Voices from the past on the phone

Wouldn’t it be great if my sister could still hear our grandparents’ voices?

Voices from the past can tug at our heartstrings like nothing else, especially if the voice belongs to a loved one. When we hear voices from the past, our recall is vivid and emotional. The voices take us back.

However, recording our voices can do more than spark recall. Hearing a voice from a relative you never knew can also forge a strong—even spiritual—connection.

In an article for Inside Magazine, Gail Snyder wrote about the priceless gift she received: a short 78 RPM recording of her uncle.

“… Uncle Yosh had inadvertently given me — a niece who did not even exist when he was killed by a Japanese sniper on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines in the waning months of World War II — a priceless gift: the chance to hear the timbre of his voice, glimpse the youthful exuberance it held and experience firsthand his impish sense of humor.”

Save Your Own Voice

Technically your voice isn’t yet from the past. But, generations from now, it might be. And you want to “be there” in some form to connect with future family members.

Consider “telling” your memory stories to a video or audio recorder. Your humor, inflections, and personality will be preserved along with the story. Don’t just read what you’ve written. Visualize precious children hanging on your every word as you tell them what happened. Better yet, have a sibling or your spouse in the video with you.

You can also use recordable storybooks available through Hallmark and other retailers. Not only are you sharing your voice, you’re also giving children in your life a new memory. You’re giving them memories of you reading their favorite books.

Use Video or Audio Recorder to Cement Family Traditions

Voices from the Past reaading a story

I love hearing voices from the past reading The Night Before Christmas as I see the diorama scenes. Photo credit chapmanculturalcenter.org

When I was young, a department store in town had a series of The Night before Christmas dioramas in the store windows. Part of our family’s Christmas Eve tradition involved a trip downtown to visit the Aug W. Smith Company’s storefront. My dad would read the story as we looked at the scenes. Years later, those diorama scenes ended up in a local history museum. With the museum’s permission, my mom videotaped as my dad read the story to my kids. This tape of voices from the past is one of my most treasured possessions.

You can also simply film your holiday traditions or a greeting to loved ones in which you explain your traditions. Sometimes this type of show and tell flows more naturally than writing.

Voices from the Past via Technology

You can record short sound bites from old filmstrips, video, and cassette recordings and add the audio file into your writings. You can do this digitally, i.e. by inserting an audio file in your text file, or you can simply provide a companion recording.

For instance, because my niece was born after my parents’ deaths, she didn’t know what her grandparents’ voices sounded like. Using a The Night before Christmas recordable storybook, I made her a book with her grandfather’s voice that I lifted off of the video Daddy had made.





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