Become an “Audio Ancestor”

When our children plead to listen to “the tapes,” they are asking to hear their favorite recording stars—themselves!

Our first baby was only a few weeks old when we decided to record her unique (so we thought) cooing and gurgling. We plugged in our old reel-to-reel recorder one evening and then waited for her nightly recital to begin. She didn’t let us down. In fact, she babbled happily for over an hour, and we were able to capture every minute of it.

As her first birthday approached, her chattering became even more fun, and she began to say a few words. We added a new chapter to her tape. Then, as time went on, we included her first sentences, funny word pronunciations, and little poems and songs she had memorized. We just couldn’t allow such priceless gems to disappear forever.

Now, eighteen years and five children later, we’re somewhat embarrassed by our exuberance as new parents. But the experience launched a family tradition, and over the years we have put together audio histories for each of our six children.

We update these “talking journals” at least annually. Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions are good times to add a few words. As Dad checks out the recorder and sets the mike on its stand, the children take a few minutes to decide what to say. Each in turn then records his or her own tape, reporting on age, current friends, school, sports, music, and club activities. Each expresses goals for the future as well as problems and concerns. Once in a while one of the children will bear a sweet, budding testimony of the gospel.

Primary and Sunday School talks, school essays, and homemade radio plays have also been preserved on the tapes, along with the many stages of our children’s struggle to master musical instruments. One extra benefit of keeping these tapes is hearing the gradual improvement and realizing how much we are progressing,

We also keep a family tape. My husband and I describe the ups and downs of the year, new babies, home improvements, changes in our business or church callings, and our feelings about life.

Besides helping us keep a family history, the tapes provide another benefit. In hearing from our past, we realize that most problems eventually go away, that some pursuits aren’t really very worthwhile, and that important goals may have faded and need more effort. This helps us keep life in perspective.

One Christmas my parents gave our children a cassette recording of personal accounts of their lives. The tape included descriptions of memorable Christmases they had had when they were young. They had also shared some of their memories of me when I was young and still at home. Although these grandparents live nearby, this recording became the most popular item in our home. For months, night after night, the children listened to it at bedtime.

As the years pass, I believe these tapes will become even more valuable to our family. They contain a very personalized part of ourselves—a part we can leave behind for our posterity. Jean A. Benson, Idaho Falls, Idaho

In Case You’re Left Alone: A Checklist

It is easy to become discouraged at the loss of a spouse. Besides the problem of loneliness, there are the endless everyday details—the little odds and ends that have always been taken care of by the spouse—that suddenly become overwhelming once the spouse is gone.

One sister whose husband was killed suddenly had seldom driven the car and didn’t know how to put in gas. An elderly widowed brother had never done any cooking and had no idea where to begin. Still another sister was left with massive medical bills when her husband died after a long illness. Her husband had always taken care of the household bills, and she felt overwhelmed by the sudden financial responsibility. Fortunately, he had prepared a ledger with vital information in it, including his life insurance policy, a list of his assets and other available money, and information about his individual retirement account.

The Lord has counseled us, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.) Our individual and family preparedness should include being able to take care of ourselves and our families in such trying situations. Even if one spouse takes the major financial responsibility, both spouses should be familiar with necessary financial information. You should know the answers to the following questions, in case of the loss of a spouse:

  • Do you have insurance? If so, what kind? Life? Health and accident? Mortgage? Other special types? Do you know the name of the company and where to find the policy number? Be familiar with what the policy covers, and keep the beneficiaries up to date.

  • Do you have a safety deposit box? If so, do you know what is kept in it? Where is the key? Where is the box located?

  • Do you have real property? Where is it? How is the title listed? Do you have income from real estate? If so, how much?

  • Do you and your spouse both have a will, listing items and how they should be distributed? If you have young children, does it designate who should care for them if something should happen to you?

  • Do you have monthly bills, such as a car payment, a house payment, or bills for telephone, electricity, or heat? You should know approximately how much each of these runs each month, and where to pay them.

  • Do you need to file a tax return? State? Federal? A quarterly income tax estimate? An estimated tax return? An estate and/or inheritance tax return? Know which of these apply to you in case you need to file and pay them yourself.

  • Do you know your annuity number and that of your spouse? Do you know your social security numbers? You should know where to find them quickly.

  • Do you know where important papers are, such as birth certificates of your children or the death certificate of your spouse?

If you have questions, consult a specialist—an accountant or an attorney.

The responsibilities do not stop with financial matters. One recently divorced sister couldn’t understand why her car kept swerving off the road until a kind neighbor asked how long it had been since she had the tires aligned. She didn’t even know that car tires needed to be aligned! Such skills as basic cooking, sewing, mending, shopping, and cleaning, as well as car, house, and yard maintenance can be learned and practiced now. Such preparation lends great peace of mind; the key is to prepare now.Joyce D. Maxfield, Provo, Utah

Procrastination? You’re Stalled for a Reason

Some time ago I received a challenging Church assignment. Nervous but excited, I thought, “I’ll get started on this tomorrow!” Unfortunately, I said the same thing the next day and the next.

Several weeks later, I was trying to throw together a presentation the day before it was to be given—at the same time I was trying to do all the things I normally have to do to keep a household with four small children running smoothly. It was then, late at night when I was exhausted and confused, that I discovered why I had been procrastinating! I didn’t have some of the necessary information and materials. I needed the help of some people I had hesitated to ask. Worst of all, I didn’t really have a clear understanding of what was expected of me in the first place. There was no time to practice; my presentation was a flop. And the worst part was the vision I had of how I knew it could have been!

We procrastinate for many reasons. Not wanting to do something may be one. But it is just as likely that we lack something we need in order to get started. The following ideas can help you get started on your projects sooner and help you break out of the procrastination habit.

Find out what is expected. A careful orientation in any calling or assignment—with specific assignments and instructions—is critical if we are to have the confidence we need to begin. Repeating back instructions when we receive an assignment is one way we can make sure we understand.

Gather information and materials. Develop skills. The Lord expects nothing of us that we cannot accomplish. But sometimes what is expected seems impossible because we lack the information, materials, or skills to do the work.

Gathering information can mean talking with others, brainstorming, or getting information, materials, or ideas from the scriptures, manuals, Church publications, libraries, or classes. It may also involve learning or developing new skills or talents.

Set a goal. Make a plan. Setting a goal means we are giving ourselves a vote of confidence. Written down, a goal seems to say, “You can!” But goals themselves can’t get us started. We need a plan of action. You might make and fill out a chart listing your objective, your final deadline, secondary deadlines, the tasks involved, and the materials needed.

Begin—the rest is easy. Someone once said that the tiniest flicker of effort can cast a whole new light on any subject. The Lord will help us, strengthen us, and inspire us—if we just get started! Christy Williams, Bellevue, Washington

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch