Erin’s Mom Here!

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)

This has been a high-tech Mother’s Day. While in Colorado, Erin and I put together a DVD collage of pictures set to music. The pictures were of my mother, Dixie; my sister, Lori; my daughters, Meghan and Erin; my granddaughters; Sarah and Charlotte (still inside her mommy’s tummy) and me. They were taken over the past 25 years, and included one shot of my maternal grandmother who died in 1989. The music we chose was Lucy Kaplansky’s, The Red Thread. The liner notes read, “There is an ancient belief in China that when a child is born, invisible red threads reach out from the child’s spirit to all the important people who will be part of the child’s life. The threads may tangle but they will never break.” Our favorite line in Lucy’s song is “I’m the girl who learned to love from watching you.” We are definitely “red threads” to each other so Erin burned us all a copy.

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.

JennyJune 23, 2010 - 10:48 am

This is beautiful Ms.Terry! And I’m off to find that song!

JessJune 23, 2010 - 10:50 am

I think that is so sweet, the tapes. Oh I wish I had tapes of my mom’s voice and of my grandma’s, I miss them so. I’m only 31 and I see so much of my mother and grandmother in me, and I know our voices were similar…the tone, everything. It would be like how a smell brings you an instant memory of a place in time, where you were, what you were doing. I frequently imagine if I am the mother mine was at my age…oh to only have tapes of her voice. What a legacy to leave.

Stephanie @ La Dolce VitaJune 23, 2010 - 10:59 am

This is beautiful and so sweet! No wonder where Erin gets it from – definitely her mama!

EBPitcherJune 23, 2010 - 12:28 pm

I’ve often wondered why I continue to blog about my everyday life and my new mama frustrations two and a half years into it. Yes – I do it for our extended family who aren’t here everyday. And they often tell me how it makes them feel closer or even here, sometimes. But in reality, I think I do it for the reasons you described. I want to look back someday and remember our early life with our son, both enjoyable and frustrating. Thanks for sharing your very touching story!

heather mayberryJune 23, 2010 - 12:47 pm

thank you so much for this reminder. memories are amazing things. i can only hope to have memories so vivid that i don’t need pictures. awesome post!

LaurenJune 23, 2010 - 12:55 pm

So so sweet. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful memories. And I love your big pictures….old pictures are so precious to me!

P.C.June 23, 2010 - 5:43 pm

Hi Terry! Lovely post. You have a wonderful way with words as does Erin. I too agree with what EBPitcher said…It is a great time we live in with all the new technology!

JoeyJune 23, 2010 - 8:05 pm

Ahh, now I see that Ephraim gets those lips from his mama and Sara, sure looks a lot like her aunt Meghan. I know the kiddos have a lot fo Brent in them as well. But, the Erin/Meghan resemblance came through strong today with those old pictures…thanks for sharing!

JodiJune 24, 2010 - 7:39 am

I think we all have a good idea of where Erin gets a lot of her talent from…

Beautiful post!

PennyJune 24, 2010 - 9:58 am

Oh my gosh. Such a fascinating story of your life in Greece. You have a way with words and are a fabulous writer!! I’m not ashamed to say I’m choaked up. The description of the “red thread” between you and your family is so heart warming – I felt it go straight into my heart too! Really wonderful. You have a lovely family. God bless you.

Lorena MoraJune 24, 2010 - 1:43 pm

What sweet pictures and your words are just beautiful.

TanyaJune 24, 2010 - 3:02 pm

This made me tear up. I, too, grew up with tapes of my childhood that my mum sent to family in England and to friends and family across the country. A few years ago, my mother gave me a couple of them, and then last month she brought me another that I’d never heard before. There really IS something about “hearing” our past selves and our loved ones that is truly remarkable and moving. Thank you for your lovely words and for sharing them with us.

Barb PuttersJune 24, 2010 - 5:18 pm

beautiful story to share..touched my heart

AnonymousJune 24, 2010 - 6:11 pm

Thank you for posting this, Terry! It brought tears to my eyes as I imagine myself (currently the mom of 2 boys, ages 3 and 7) in 20 years, my children grown up, getting married, and beginning their own families. I take photos, occasionally videos, and I try to record as much as I can, though some days seem like a blur til the end of the day. Thank you for the reminder of how sweet and short this time with my children really is. I want to remember to take the time to savor it and enjoy it before it’s gone.

LaceyJune 25, 2010 - 6:52 am

Sounds like Erin is as fortunate as her children are! Your family is so full of love! P.S. That photo of Erin reminds me of B’ro!

P.C.June 25, 2010 - 1:33 pm

Yes, B’Ro looks SO much like Erin’s pic here. Cute.

JoyceJune 26, 2010 - 8:29 am

Oh Terry,
You are so very fortunate. To have and hold these special tapes and most of all, for having a mother who not only kept them, but gave them to you.
As always, in my eye, many thanks for sharing these most important time in your life.
I love you, my friend,

Betsy MurrayJune 30, 2010 - 2:06 pm

these are such beautiful stories!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

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