The Next Voice You Hear

One of my to-do items lately has been finishing my audio book recording for Learning to Walk. I have no idea why I think this is worthy of being on a list of goals, but it is. Testing the waters, I guess. People have mentioned it.

I started this months (over a year, maybe) ago, but there were technical problems. Airplanes tend to fly over my house. The minimal audio requirements for this are still stringent for a home studio. It was just a hassle.

But I learned a few things, and the more I read the more I sounded like myself. I found a plug-in for my recording software that analyzes the clip to see if it meets the standards, and I’ve figured out the normalizing and leveling settings that make it fit, every time.

So I just need to finish the rest. About a third of the way done. These planes could give me a break and it might be quicker.

***

I was always a reader. I read better than I write. And when I say “reading,” I mean aloud. So this should be not hard.

It was thinking about this, though, and a card that came yesterday, that made me realize I have big shoes to fill. And I can write about this now.

For my mom’s birthday celebration, the idea of a slideshow or some other tribute was never far from my thoughts, but only got into the conversation a little late. For a year my siblings and I communicated about details, with my brother (who’s retired and has two grandchildren in central-south Arizona) doing most of the scouting and detail work in terms of invitations, etc., and my sister, who is definitely not retired but lives the closest to Mom, trying to keep us informed about her mood and condition. That rheumatoid arthritis, exacerbated by a slip on the ice and a wrist injury, made her miserable for the better part of a year.

She was in great shape for the party, though, and as we talked about this slideshow idea, I got a little pessimistic. Mom’s got all the good pictures, for one thing. Kind of hard to make this sort of thing without her help.

And we didn’t need one, really. My brother got enough pictures scanned that we had them placed around the party site. Her life in review was on display for anyone to peruse.

What I really wanted – what I think it needed – was a short film in which I could get interviews will all sorts of people from her life, talking about her. That would have been sweet. And if I’d been on the ball, I could have maybe made it work with an early start. A short trip to California would have yielded a whole bunch of riches in terms of old friends, and family.

But it was November already, with a January party looming, and that’s when I got the idea of asking the grandchildren.

Who else could confirm and testify to my mother’s best qualities than the ones who were showered with her attention from the beginning? She became a grandmother at age 44, and over the next 15 years she’d have seven of her children’s children to work her magic on, and her magic held multitudes but was particularly special for one thing.

A thing I would have never guessed. A thing I only distantly remembered. But it wasn’t for me, anyway.

Mom would take her tape recorder (which she still has) and record stories for her grandkids. Lots of them, and she had lots of grandkids.

And when I asked her grandchildren to say something about their grandmother, take their phones or pads or cameras and record a little tribute, it was fabulous. The shy ones surprised me, and the more outgoing ones did, too.

Those cassettes were a theme, then, mentioned specifically by several. Including my daughter, who talked about going to sleep every night to the sound of my mother’s voice. Gulp.

So my little project doesn’t seem that daunting, not in comparison. I think I finish it this week.

***

Our showing of Groundhog Day was last night, and was as much of a success as I could realistically hope for, which means pretty successful. I didn’t get a head count, but around 20 people wandered over to the church (any given Sunday we might have 45 or so, sometimes more, sometimes less), ate some food, got delayed by a scheduling snafu with the Cub Scouts, who use the sanctuary as a gathering place for their weekly meetings before breaking up into groups in the classrooms, and then had a surprisingly fun time, or so it seemed. A projector, a laptop with DVD player, and a screen. All we needed to wander back to 1993 and wallow in the sweetness of that story, which gets sweeter and more substantial each time I watch it.

One of the attendees brought up an interesting idea, or at least I thought that was where he was heading. It’s one I’d never thought of, at any rate, although we discussed allegory quite a bit. This is just a romantic comedy until you start thinking about allegory.

And this man seemed to suggest that maybe the whole fantasy of one unpleasant man living out the same day, over and over again, might be analogous to all of our lives. We do the same things, we deal with the same people, we have the same routines. Not all of us, but most.

And if this is life, then the last scene, the quiet town covered with new snow as the two romantic leads head off toward their future, looks a lot like heaven. Whatever heaven is to you.

I can see that, I think. It’s as good a take on this film as any other, and one I need to ponder. In the meantime, I’m just happy it turned out well, that there was enough food, and that people seemed eager to do it again.

I’m supposed to say, “And again, and again…” but you know. Way too easy.

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