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Forgotten Gifts

By Belinda

On Sunday evening, stumbling around in my very cluttered little sitting room, I knocked over a CD tower.

It was late, and I was tempted to leave the pile of CD's where they had fallen, along with the dislocated pieces of the tower, but I knew that the next day would have enough mess of its own, so I put the  tower back together and began gathering up the old CD's that it had housed.

That was when I found magic. Back in 1978, Oma Schipper, Mum's mother, was living with her in England. A few years before that, Mum had bought a tape recorder. It was ten years after Paul and I had left for Canada and Mum had already made good use of this new technology that came into common usage in the early 1970's. 

She used her cassette tape recorder to record Dad's snoring at night. She could then prove just how loud it was!

She recorded bell ringing practice at St. Laurence church, on a Tuesday night in Alvechurch.

And she also recorded herself telling The Story of the Pixie Man, a story Mum used to tell to Rob and me when we were small. It was intended to frighten us into staying close to home when we went outside to play. The little pixie man wandered outside of his garden gate to pick flowers for his mummy, and then one flower led to another and in no time it was getting dark and by then he was lost in the depths of a forest. He was rescued by a giant who heard him crying and who carried him all the way home high up in his shirt pocket. Mrs. Pixie man was so happy that she baked the giant a BIG apple pie on the biggest plate she could find and the giant and the pixies became fast friends. No wonder I feel compelled to bake apple pies for my friends!! :) Mum sent this tape to us so that Peter and Brenda could hear her story. I have it still somewhere.

In 1979 she made a tape recording to send to my Tante Adrie, one of her sisters in Holland. Because Omie was living with Mum in England at the time, she knew it would mean a lot to Tante Adrie to hear their voices, and also they had just had a visit from Tante Adrie's daughter Deborah, with her little son Olivier and husband Jose.

So Mum set up the tape recorder and set it running while she and Omie chatted in Dutch about their plans for the evening; the socks Omie was knitting; having coffee and a cookie; and laughing and generally going on about all of the small things of that seem so insignificant, but which are the warp and weft of life. 

In 2006, almost thirty years later, I went to Holland again to spend time with some cousins and Deb, Tante Adrie's daughter, flew from Switzerland to meet me there. We met at Schiphol Airport and traveled by train to stay in Rotterdam. By then Tante Adrie was in a senior's residence, but the tape still existed, and Deb made a CD of it for me.

This is the gold I found in the pile of plastic. I put it on and for the first time in years, I heard Mum's voice as it was; it's timbre; the laughter that came so quickly; her vibrancy. And I heard Omie's voice too, chuckling, happy, so real again after all these years. She would have been 86 then, and not long after that returned to Holland to live the brief time she had left on earth.

Tonight after cell group, when Susan stayed for her "second cup" before going home, I played a few minutes of the CD for her. I translated the fast flowing conversation as best I could, but she recognized Mum's voice. She fully appreciated the gift that the CD is and her eyes misted over as she listened, smiling.

It is going to be placed near my luggage, ready for my next trip to England so that I can play it for Mum.

Sometimes when you knock something over you discover a forgotten gift.


Marilyn said…
THIS is a fabulous find that brings tears, but good tears. I love it!
Belinda said…
Sighing and so grateful for a mum that cared to record her voice for those who love her.
swissdebbie said…
Hi Belinda, I had forgotten about the tape but I remember now.....
PS, my son s name is Olivier, José is his dad!
Belinda said…
Of course, Deb, I know; Olivier! I got mixed up. Mum was talking about Jose on the tape and in my mind he became Olivier because they were talking about the darling baby. I'll change it in the blog.
Susan said…
You noticed the misting? I'm such sap... But you know what? When I heard Mum's voice again last night I MISSED her! It was like she was right there chatting away with your Omie. Though I only had the pleasure of being with your mum a few times, to know her at all - even just a little - is to KNOW you are loved. No wonder every vacation you are where she is... You are so blessed!

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