recorded in memory

During a recent phone conversation with my sister, I was struck by a tender memory.

She was telling me about how her son, my littlest nephew, had most of the alphabet memorized, although the middle letters were blurred together. She put him on the phone and he recited it for me, with the h through p all a jumble. It was adorable, and it made me miss both of my nephews dearly. It’s difficult to be an aunty so far away from her nephews. They grow up so fast.

I remembered how when my son was just that young I had been living with an eccentric recording artist who let me use his equipment from time to time. I had recorded myself reading to my son his favorite stories with his joyfully voiced additions. He had those stories memorized by heart, and he would follow along as if he were reading them himself.

When I played back those recordings for him, he would squeal with delight. “That’s me, mommy!”

And I would answer him, “Yes, that’s you, baby. And someday when you grow up you can listen to yourself reading your favorite stories as a child. But your voice will be much much different then.”

I never made a hard copy of those recordings. At the time, I thought — rather naively — that they would always be there along with that artist/love.

It’s funny the things we leave behind when we’re ending one chapter and beginning a new one. Those stories, his voice shouting, “A told B and B told C…” and whispering, “g’night ‘tars, g’night air, g’night noises… everywhere” are forever seared into my memory.

I only wish that my son could remember that child voice, and those lovely little stories, as well. It wasn’t very long ago that all I had to do was say “chicka chicka” and he would follow with an emphatic “boom boom BOOM BOOM!!!”

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