“Become an ‘Audio Ancestor’” Ensign, June 1986, 68
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