Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Every Day We Grow-I-Oh!

First things first:

Yes... it is possible for me to blog from America.  Observe:

For Christmas this past year I asked for a device that could transfer cassette tapes to digital files.  You see, I have this tape that my grandfather (we called him Gandalf) made for me for Christmas in 1982 or 1983... I think it was '82.  At any rate, it's full of him, my grandmother (Nana) and some assorted aunts singing me songs and telling me stories.  It's kind of my favorite thing in the entire world.  And since Gandalf has been gone for a little over ten years now, I thought it would be neat to be able to put this recording into a format that I could share with the rest of the family.  

Since Christmas, I haven't really had the time to work on this (I really should have been studying tonight), but for some reason, tonight I felt the need to give it a try.  There are probably a lot of things that were pulling me this way.  For one thing, my paternal grandfather passed away at the end of May, which has had me thinking a lot about all of my grandparents.  Also, while I was in Moscow, a conversation/interrogation with JT (the head of my program) led me back to this tape as one of the roots of my interest in the comic... so it's been back on the tip of my brain in the last month.  I was also feeling kinda blue these last couple of weeks for a variety of reasons - one of which is the sudden passing of one of my cousins (I have to admit, I haven't known her that well in our adult lives, but it's still such a shock when someone that young is just suddenly gone) - so I thought it might be nice to reach back into the family memory banks.  So, I pulled out my little device, dug out my tape (as well as another tape I didn't care about just to test it) and gave it a try.  After some wheedling and tweaking and such, I got the test tape to work, so I popped in my Christmas tape.  Now, this is a tape that I listened to as I fell asleep almost every night for years and years.  And this is also a tape I haven't listened to since before Gandalf passed's probably been about 15 years at least.  I put in the tape and pressed play, and I heard Gandalf's voice for the first time in over a decade... and I just started to cry.  I think I sort of expected that.  He was a Barbershop singer with this thundering bass voice... it was one of his most identifiable traits.  A wave of sadness and joy and love just washed over me.  It was really neat.  

But what was really remarkable was how completely I remember so much of this tape.  I heard just the introduction of the first song, stopped the tape, and then proceeded to sing almost the entire song from memory.  Then I plugged the device back in and listened to the whole 8 minute story/song.  It's a story about Alexander Friendly III - a little boy who gets lost in the woods, and has to learn a song called "Every Day We Grow-I-Oh" in order to find his way out of the woods.  He learns said song with the help of a sleepy old opossum, one yellow butterfly, two fuzzy chipmunks, three brown chihuahua dogs, four green bullfrogs and five red birds, each of whom knows a part of the song (there are some sheep and horses too, but they prove to be no help).  I just sat there watching the sound waves popping up on my screen and laughed and cried and shared a moment with my grandfather - which is something I have really missed since he passed away.  

When it all comes down to it, I really do think that this tape is one of my most prized possessions.  It's just a bunch of silly songs and stories, but it's such an important connection to where I came from... I can't wait to listen to the rest of it!