My Nan used to stay over at my parents mostly every week for a couple of days at a time. Whenever I was there it was always nice to spend time with her, be in the same space and listen to her stories. After some time, I thought why not audio record her stories while she tells them and hear how they sound? So one day I sat with her and she started to tell me a story, something from when she was growing up as a child – and I pressed record on my portable audio recorder. It was one of the best things I have ever done.
Afterwards, I listened back to it and felt as if I was experiencing her speak for the very first time. I became ‘conscious’ of her in a unique way when I listened to only her voice. The tone and subtleties of her voice was more apparent than ever. I could describe these details just as if I was describing the sound of a singer that I admired. I played the recordings back to Mum and she loved it. She asked me to record her stories from time to time. So over the course of about a year, I sat with her and recorded her stories.
It has been said that listening with attention and awareness brings a deeper quality to our lives and our relationships. It is very hard for us to be self-reflexive as we see and hear ourselves in a very limited way. Through this method of just pressing record, it enabled me to re-acquaint myself with my Nan. And in this day and age it has become even easier to do this as our mobile (cell) phones have the capability to make audio recordings and you can save them just as easily.
In 2016 my Nan had a stroke and her voice hasn’t fully recovered yet. It has become a greater effort to communicate with her and for her to communicate. These recordings have become more precious than before.
If we can cultivate a freshness of appreciation from time to time for the things we unconsciously take for granted, it’s meaning to our lives can be continuously renewed . We have a relationship not just with people, but with the bed we sleep on, the clothes we wear, the streets we walk down or drive along. This is our life that we are spending, not our time.
And spending time with my Nan, however small or great it has been throughout the years, was not time being spent, it has been moments of sharing my life with her life.