It’s one of the best things I ever did. I encourage you to do the same.
Today would have been my grandpa’s 87th birthday. Truthfully, I cannot fathom what it would be like to live for 80+ years. I’m already tired, and I’m not half his age.
Unfortunately–for those of us he left behind–Grandpa died in January of this year. So it’s the first birthday without him, and I must say, I was surprised by the impact of his absense. I expected to be sad, of course, but I didn’t expect to want so badly to hear his voice.
Perhaps like some of your family members, my grandpa loved to tell the stories of his life. He really did have an incredible set to share. He grew up in the back woods of upstate New York without electricity. He considered bologna to be the greatest treat known to man. During his lifetime, he would start several churches and grow a faith strong enough to sustain him through the loss of a young wife and little boy.
His life sounded like fiction, but he had the character and the eyes of a man who had lived it all.
So when I was in college, I decided to ask Grandpa if, in lieu of a traditional Christmas gift, he would put some of his favorite memories on an audio tape. I supplied him with one sixty-minute tape and told him that he didn’t need to feel like he was supposed to fill it. But that anything he put on it would be special to me.
Well, he didn’t fill it. Instead, he filled 12 90-minute tapes, front and back, with the lessons of his life. Those 18 hours are time I can spend with my grandpa whenever I want to. Hearing him talk about the decisions that shaped him always prompts me to make decisions that I won’t be afraid to record for my family.
Christmas is coming. Need a gift? I encourage you to do the same with those you love. Record their voices. Listen to their stories. And on days when you don’t have your loved one nearby, you’ll still have the ability to hear their voices. And it’ll feel–at least for a moment–like old times.