• Mike Fowler

These are a few of my favorite things


I've been putting some thought into expanding the focus of this project to feature items that have been left behind by those that have passed on. These items each have their own story to tell and can be an invaluable connection to peoples memories.


I have always prided myself in being somewhat of the family archivist. As I sit here writing this blog post, I'm writing it on a desk that once belonged to me as a child. At one point I whined about wanting a more modern one and eventually my parents relented. As I grew into an adult I began to appreciate this old antique and now it is one of my most treasured pieces.


The item that I want to feature today is an old record that my mom recorded with my grandfather back when she was probably just about 16 or 17 years old. My grandfather was a music teacher and song writer. Many of my family members are also musically inclined, but sadly, this seemed to skip me. My piano teacher told me to just give up and when I tried to join Band in 7th grade, the band director observed me attempt to play a few instruments and promptly sent me upstairs to join Choir.


My mom passed away in 2001 after a lengthy illness. A few days after, my dad told my brother and I that we should take a look inside her cedar chest at the foot of the bed to see if we wanted anything. We had long been banned from going in there, so going in made us both feel like we were disrespecting the rule. What we found was a time capsule of her life and ours. Old school assignments and projects had been saved, along with some of our pajamas that our grandmother had made for us.


As I got down to the bottom of the chest I found this yellowed mass that looked like skin. After initially being freaked out by it, I discovered that it was a record that had been carefully wrapped in layer upon layer of cellophane. Strangely enough, my dad still had a working 8 track player but no turnable on which to play the record. This was before the resurgence in the interest in vinyl so I was stuck with a record but no way to play it.


After doing some research I found a recording studio in town and figured they could at least play it for me. Upon entering, I was greeted by this giant of a man who resembled a fully hulked out Incredible Hulk, except he was white. I told him that my mom had just passed and about how I found this record. He told me to stay downstairs while he went up to the booth. As he started playing the record, I was greeted with scratches and a bit of dialogue on the speakers surrounding me and then all of a sudden I could hear the distinct voices of my mom and grandfather. My grandfather died before I was born so this was the first time I'd ever heard his voice. Within seconds I was a weepy mess, as was the Hulk up in the booth.


Each of the songs was written by my grandfather and one in particular was incredibly appropriate. "Don't Tell Me Goodbye" had a message how even though someone dies, we still have their memories and will one day be reunited.


It's funny how as you get older, perspectives change. As a kid, I hated going to church, mostly because I tended to get in trouble for questioning the Bible stories that were told to us. I often was told to sit in the hall or would get my snack taken away because I simply could not wrap my head around things like Noah's Ark and burning bushes. On Sunday mornings, I would stare at the clock in hopes that we'd get to the point that it was impossible for us to make it on time.


When we did go, I'd sit in the sanctuary and pray that my mom would not embarrass me with her singing. Mom would often belt out the hymns, drowning out those around her. When she did, I'd melt down in my seat. Now, as an adult, I play her record and hear her voice in a whole new way. I'm sort of embarrassed for being embarrassed.


Today, I still have the record displayed in a shadow box, along with some of my grandfathers handwritten lyrics for a song that I don't believe was ever published. I will always cherish this little piece of family history. What items do you have that tell a story? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

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