Hi there everyone! This is Erin’s mom, Terry, posting while she is on vacation. I wanted to share some pictures of her and her older sister with you. They are about the same age as Sarah and Ephraim are now, can you see the family resemblance? (I know these are not near the quality this blog usually shares but they do have in common the fact that the mom who took these pictures loves her children just as much as Erin loves hers!)
I also wanted to share something I had written a few years ago from my own blog. I think it is wonderful that the internet has enabled so many families to document their kiddos growth and have a real history. I envy you all that you have that opportunity and wish I had more mementos of my children’s childhood. Anyway, I do have something. Pretty low-tech but they mean a lot to me none the less. These pictures of my children were taken during the time I talk about. (I tried making them smaller but I’m not familiar with this blog so… you all just get to see nice BIG pictures of my children!!)
The Toddler Tapes (written May 12, 2006)
In addition to this, Erin and Brent also made a DVD of short video clips of Sarah’s first six months as a Mother’s Day gift for me and Brent’s mom. Their digital camera can record about a minute at a time so this DVD includes many milestones of her life thus far. I treasure it now but know it will mean even more to me in the future.
All this searching through old pictures, watching as my granddaughter grows and develops, and using the latest technology to chronicle it all has made me a bit nostalgic. I’ve let my mind and memories wander back to the time when my own children were young, and I’m reminded that I also used the latest technology available back then.
We were living in the suburbs of Athens, Greece in the early eighties. Meghan was twenty-one months and Erin three months when we arrived to begin our nearly three-year stay. We resided in a fairly modern Greek apartment building with four other American military families. The girls thrived despite (or probably because of) the lack of television during this time. They loved “reading” children’s books-on-tape which they would listen to while looking at the pictures in the books. As they got older, their bedtime ritual included listening to the taped stories in the dark as they fell asleep. Not unlike my parent’s generation which, as children, had listened to their favorite shows on the radio in the evenings.
The tape player on which they listened to their stories came to serve another purpose as my daughters became more verbal. Because the installation and monthly cost of a telephone in Greece was prohibitive, we didn’t even try to fit this outrageous expense into our budget. As a result, my husband and I went for nearly three years without having a conversation with any members of our family in America. But we filled the gap and strengthened our daughters’ red threads as best we could. In addition to writing many letters, we began exchanging cassette tapes with our mothers. This gave “Grama” and “Granny” the opportunity to hear the girls as they played together and learned to talk, and gave us the ability to actually “hear” what was going on in our parents’ homes. I looked forward anxiously to getting those tapes in the mail. There was often a long chat from my own wheel-chair bound grandmother. She lived with my parents at the time and arthritis had left her unable to hold a pencil long enough to write a letter, but she loved to talk to us on the tapes. Oh, how I wish I still had just one of those tapes holding my grandmother’s voice. But, when we returned to the states we had a telephone (in nearly every room), and having served their purpose, the tapes were all gone. Or so I thought….
A few years ago my mother handed me a small plastic bag and said, “I’ve been cleaning out drawers and closets and thought you might want these…” Inside there were about ten of these tapes. They were pretty beat-up; having been recorded over many times and sent back and forth between Athens and California. But what a treasure! As I listen to these tapes I’m carried back to my early adulthood. I hear my children learning to talk. Meghan tells the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and Erin recites her favorite nursery rhymes. They sing songs together. Their voices are small and questioning, they call me “mama”. One tape was recorded as they came into the living room on Christmas morning; I listen intently to their joy at what Santa has delivered. The rooms of that apartment come into my view; the arrangement of the furniture, the toys they played with, the color of the bedspread, the stove where I cooked our meals, the smells from the nearby kebab stand. I don’t need the picture albums from those years, I remember it all. The voices of my daughters, as well as my own, and the background noises on these tapes take me there. In my own 27 year old voice I hear my daughters now. As I speak to them on the tapes, I also hear Erin speaking to Sarah and Meghan speaking to Charlotte; the cadence, the tone, and the inflection are the same. Another line from Lucy’s song comes to mind, “They say the red thread that ties me to you, ties her to me.” And so it goes….
Though I cherish my pictures and the few video tapes I have of the events of my life, none of it gets into my soul as these audio tapes do. Just as my daughters imagined the stories when they listened to their books-on-tape, and my parents visualized what was happening as they listened to their favorite radio shows; I also see the details of my life as a young mother unfold when I listen to those tapes. I remember once reading a quote from Helen Keller. She indicated that if she could choose, she would want the ability to hear returned to her over the ability to see. This surprised many people until she went on to explain that while the loss of sight separates us from things; the loss of hearing separates us from people. When I think about listening to my children’s “Toddler Tapes” (as I’ve come to call them), I understand exactly what she means. I feel the red threads connecting me with my daughters and my mother, with my granddaughters and my grandmother, much more strongly when I hear the voices on these tapes than I ever have while looking at the pictures in my many albums.