It’s good to be home! I really enjoyed my Christmas in Smalltownville and I visit my mother about once a month when the weather is good for making the drive, but it felt good to pull into my own garage.
Goodnight got into her jammies right away even though it was late afternoon. But home is home and I don’t care. I sat down to knit. I had already finished the blue/green baby sweater and was well into a pink one.
It was kind of quiet after our fun holiday.
I asked Goodnight if she wanted to hear another tape of her mother. She said she was ready.
This one isn’t sad either.
Goodnight’s mother got her first job when she was nine years old. She talked on the radio for 90 seconds once a week. She told listeners about summer in the life of a nine-year-old.
It was all her doing. She wrote to the radio station and asked if they needed any help while one of the on-air guys was going to be away. What she didn’t realize was that he wasn’t really going anywhere. He did character voices and one of the characters was going to be ‘gone’ for the summer. Anyway, she wrote the letter and mailed it.
It was at a public radio station. She spelled ‘public’ wrong on the envelope and that was the only correction I asked her to make. If you think about it . . . . . you’ll figure out what she had spelled instead of public. If you don’t get it, think Christmas. Think NO-EL, then look at public again.
About two weeks later, the phone rang after she was already in bed. It was on of the guys on the radio asking to speak with her. She hadn’t fallen asleep yet, so she took the phone call. They made arrangements about her job and when he would call and do the phone interview recordings. She was to simply talk about something fun she did on summer vacation.
She started out rather shyly in the early interviews, but she found her groove after a few weeks.
What Goodnight heard on my tape was the recordings I made from the radio when her spot aired. Goodnight loved hearing her mother’s voice as a young child.
It was more time for laughter as my daughter talked about having a friend over to play and then getting into a little fight. The interviewer asked her if she and her friend had hit each other. My daughter said quietly, “Well . . . but only when we were fighting.”
Then there was a story about a bike trip we took to the lake. Goodnight’s mom went on about how tough the bike ride was, how hot it was, how tired she was, etc. Then the interviewer said, “But when you finally got to the lake you could go swimming.” My daughter said, “Well, no not really. When we got there they were dragging the lake so we had to sit on the sand.” He laughed out loud, stopped the tape, and started the interview over to avoid that ‘dragging the lake’ part.
(FYI – the child they thought had drowned had actually gone home without telling anyone.)
It was a very good thing that the interviews were pre-recorded so some judicious editing could take place.
I don’t know how many stories there are on that tape. She did it once a week for the summer, so that math is easy, but they loved it so much that they invited her back for some 4th grade updates. The last one was the day before Christmas.
The interviewer asked her to imagine that he was an alien from another planet and she was to describe to him how to celebrate Christmas. She told him the first thing he needed to do was get a job so he would have money to buy gifts. Then he asked her what he was supposed to eat. She said, “Well, if you spent all your money on gifts, then I guess you have to eat leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.”
I had to stop the tape until Goodnight and I stopped laughing at that one. I guess we must have had leftover turkey that year. Sigh!
Then Goodnight’s mother told the guy that he needed to send Christmas cards in a rocket back to his planet.
Goodnight’s mom loved math and science and hated spelling – just like Goodnight.
I don’t listen to the tape very often – haven’t in a long time. Her voice and her stories are in my heart. But Goodnight needs to know them too.
When my daughter passed away, I called the radio station and spoke to the guy who had done all the on-air interviews with her. He was still on the air. I told him when her funeral was in case he wanted to be there.
He came. And what he had done so quickly between the day I phoned him and the day of the funeral was to go into the station’s library, find the old interviews and burn a CD of them. It’s was a very touching gift to receive. I’ve always worried about the life of the cassette tape, and because of his kindness, I have the back-up.
Listening to the tapes has been good for Goodnight. This has been the most difficult year for her since her mother’s death. The tapes give her some history that she feels is lost. They give her laughter about her mother without guilt. They give her opportunities to ask questions that she wouldn’t know she wanted the answers to. And she gets to find out how much she is like her mother without her mother’s physical presence.
The stories of the postcards from a long ago trip to Chicago, making potato chips from scratch, catching caterpillars in a canning jar, collecting clam shells from the river all came alive again last night. Why not!!! We look back at this time of year, don’t we?
Today, though – a New Year’s Eve party at the community center swimming pool. They call it a flotation party because they get out all the blow-up stuff they own and allow it in the pool. Most of the time it’s not allowed because it’s a nightmare for the lifeguards to see under and around all the flotation devices.
But today . . . we are going to float in the New Year! Or at least splash it in!
HAPPY – I hope there is more ’happy’ for you than anything else.
NEW – We get to start afresh!
YEAR – 365 days to make the world a better place.