Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A Designated Task


An unfinished project is weighing heavily on my mind lately.  Actually, strike that...it's an unSTARTed project.  My Uncle Bob was a great fan of my writing, even though I'm not sure why or how.  To my knowledge, he only ever read the eulogy I wrote for Granny, and maybe some really bad poetry when I was a girl. Regardless, he was a man of culture and the arts, even as a scientist, so he MUST have known greatness when he saw it.  (Please read that with the intended tongue in cheek.)

Years before we lost both Uncle Bob and Granny, and before the idea of buying this house was ever conceived, Uncle Bob asked me, encouraged me, WANTED me to write my grandmother's life story, if for no other reason than to have the oral history recorded for the youngsters and future generations.  I agreed to do it, and sat with my grandmother on several occasions to do an interview.  

Granny and I sat together a lot, she in the recliner that she spent vast portions of her final years in, and I on the couch next to her.  We would sometimes watch TV together, sometimes crochet, but as often as not, we would just sit together.  This house, when silent, sounds just the same today as it used to--the slightly louder hum of the interstate, the same noisy blue jays in the yard, the faint noise of the compressor in the refrigerator...this house has a "silence" all its own, those ghosts, if you will.  I am very thankful that we weren't cursed with the technology that we are today, otherwise I might not have heard all that I did.

But I digress.  I did interviews with Granny over several afternoons sitting in this exact spot (I'm a creature of habit, and "my spot" hasn't changed in all these years, even though the furniture has.). I recorded her stories with a micro -cassette recorder purchased for that very reason, sometimes asking questions, but mostly just letting her talk. It was clear that she enjoyed it, not just to break the monotony and the silence, but also to put her own unique spin on things and tell the finer details of some of the scandals and mysteries of her life.

So, my research is done, for the most part, other than tracking down some details.  It's a matter of transcribing the interviews and piecing them together with the store of her old photos that I also inherited with the house.  Part of the process was also sitting and labeling pictures, not too hard a task considering her penchance for writing directly on the photo, (she was a labeler, that one) so it shouldn't be hard.

The hard part, though, and the part holding me back (along with a healthy case of procrastination)?  Well, here's  the thing...to embark on the process, I'll have to actually listen to the tapes.  And I'm not sure I can hear her call me "Sister" without bawling, much less listen to her for hours as I type her narration. It's a gift to have it recorded, as it will be a treasure for others in the family to read and know her story, but I just don't have the courage most days to do it, to listen.

But, I need to, and I will, because as the years pass quickly, those for whom the story will have the most significance are also getting up in the years and starting to have their own health issues.  Uncle Bob didn't get a chance to read it, which I will always, always regret, but if I act quickly, the others will.  

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