What a title, but it’s true. Today, December 20, 2014 was rather ordinary for the holiday season. My nephews are up with my brother and sister-in-law to celebrate Christmas before going to another part of the family for the actual day of Christmas. So presents were opened and toys played with, candy eaten and cards played (a typical occurrence when the family is together). All good and fun. So mostly holiday typical.
However, today is pretty special.
My dad’s dad died when he was 62 years old, in February 1973, months before my second brother (the one just now visiting) was born. He is the only grandparent I never met, the other three living well into their 80s. I’ve heard a lot about Grandpa Jack over the years and have always been extremely bummed (to put it lightly) that I never got to know him and love him, etc, because by all accounts, he was a pretty awesome guy. In photos he’s an combination of my dad and aunt (or they have definite traits of his). He used to dress up in the Santa suit that he made (which my dad still has and wears when duty calls) and he and Dad have the same eyes, which makes their Santas identical, practically. All in all, I hate that I don’t know him. But he died eight years before I was born, so that’s that.
I’m not sure where Dad found these cassette tapes but there are quite a few from long ago (i mean, they’re cassette tapes). There’s even one of Dad recording one of his stories for me to listen to while he was traveling. But he found one of Grandpa and Grandma about six months before he died, talking to my dad, his wife and my oldest brother.
I heard my grandpa’s voice today.
And it was incredible. I didn’t expect to tear up, but here I was forty years after his death, hearing his voice for the first time. He didn’t sound like I expected. I’m not sure I’d ever really consciously thought about what he’d sound like, but his voice was surprising. It wasn’t as deep and it was a lot more country/Oklahoma twanged than I’d realized.
My grandpa sounded like Burl Ives.
It was a 30 minute tape, just Grandpa and Grandma talking as they traveled to Tulsa from their home town. They went to see a play (which was a little risque according to them both). And they were discussing when my dad and family would come visit. It was so normal and yet, it was my grandfather. Who didn’t even know I would ever come into the picture.
I listened to every bit of it. Even hearing Grandma, who’s been gone for over a decade. From cassette tapes to the computer as an MP3 to a CD that is now in my possession (Kudos to my dad for figuring all that out on his own, I’m impressed). And I just cried.
So, it was nice finally get to hear you, Grandpa Jack. I miss you without ever getting to hug you.
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