To Amy From Dad
December 01, 2015
This post is sponsored by Legacybox.
After my dad died and my mom downsized to an apartment, I inherited multiple bags and boxes of family albums, loose photos, random clippings and mementos. I believe the idea was that as I am laughingly (lolingly) considered to be one of the more "tech savvy" types in the family, I was best suited for the task of scanning and digitizing the sprawling heaps of ephemera.
That...never happened. You're shocked, I know. I went through everything and did my best to sort it into categories, but ultimately it all returned to the various bags and boxes and ended up on a shelf in the basement. A terrible place for such delicate, irreplaceable items, a fact I knew perfectly well (humidity! floods! fire! snakes!) and felt plenty guilty about, but ugh. Where to start? Our scanner is soooooo sloooowwwww and really doesn't do a great job with the older, poorly color-corrected photos, plus there were all kinds of old VHS/video tapes from various camcorders that I didn't know what to do with.
In August of 1997, my dad underwent surgery to remove his larynx due to cancer. The surgeon planned to create a "voice" for him using whatever could be salvaged of his vocal cords, but we didn't really know for sure if that would work or what it would sound like.
Before the surgery, at my request, he recorded this tape for me. It's about 15 minutes of him talking to me, then reading his favorite passages from Shakespeare and the bible.
I listened to it once, maybe twice. It felt...sadder rather than helpful, since his voice was already so hoarse and ravaged and not quite what I remembered.
And then I couldn't listen to it anymore, because it was a cassette tape. I remember trading in an old car and getting behind the wheel of my new one and realizing that I'd just parted ways with the only cassette tape player I owned, and wondered if I should've taken a moment to pop this tape in.
But my dad was still around. With his "new" voice, but one that sounded "normal" to me by that point, so whatever. The tape remained in the bottom of a box, along with extra wedding invitations, old Playbills, photos, etc.
And it was the FIRST THING I thought of when I was asked if I'd like to try out Legacybox.
A kit quickly arrived at my door with detailed instructions. I bagged up photos and newspaper clippings, dusted off old VHS tapes of our wedding and those tiny camcorder cartridges we used to document Noah's first year or so.
(Legacybox can convert just about every format possible, one-stop-shop style, and it felt SO GOOD to know that finally -- FINALLY -- everything worth preserving digitally was getting taken care of all at once, with no more procrastination.)
Ezra was home sick, but rallied to go through my baby album, which he found fascinating.
Here's everything I ended up packing into my Legacybox:
Approximately 100 old family photos, three VHS tapes (two wedding and Noah's 3D ultrasound), two camcorder cassettes and of course, To Amy From Dad.
I dropped it off at the post office with a bit of trepidation (plz don't lose this guys or drop it in a fire pit of snakes okay?) but I was able to safely track the package from delivery through the entire conversion process at the Legacybox website using my order number. It arrived back at my house in no time, filled with all my originals and a nice clean stack of CDs and DVDs.
And there it was.
It took me a couple days to work up the nerve to listen to this. I was afraid I'd cry, or be devastatingly sad for awhile, or maybe it would just feel kind of strange and morbid, like the way I felt visiting his grave.
I finally took a deep breath and slipped it into a laptop drive.
And there he was. Talking to me. Reading to me. Telling me he loved me.
Jason and I got married almost exactly one year after my dad's throat surgery. His "new" voice was very rough and raspy, and he'd be prone to throat problems and coughing fits for the rest of his life.
He still read 1 Corinthians 13 out loud at our wedding.
Thank you so, so much to Legacybox for sponsoring this post and for offering such an amazing service. (and for letting me send you SO MANY MANY THINGSSSS).
Have your own backlog of precious irreplaceable memories to digitize into this current century? The first 50 people who enter the code AMALAH at checkout will receive 40% OFF their first Legacybox. Go, go!
I have a recording of my great grandmother talking to my mom about things that happened in her lifetime. I'm so glad that my mom recorded it and that it's now no longer on a cassette/it's on a cd. I've listened to it a couple times this year.
Posted by: bean | December 01, 2015 at 10:47 AM
So many quiet tears reading this. What a beautiful way to preserve the thing we all wish we had when someone passes.
Posted by: Stacey M. | December 01, 2015 at 10:57 AM
Yup, tears. I can only imagine how much you miss him.
Posted by: Luisa | December 01, 2015 at 11:11 AM
Thanks for posting this - I have a box of reel-to-reel tapes that I would dearly love to have converted, dug out of my mother's garage. She was a concert pianist, and they're the only recordings of her performances that exist.
Posted by: Pamela | December 01, 2015 at 11:25 AM
Amy, you don't know what a comfort this is to me. My husband passed away unexpectedly on 11.25, and now I know a way our children and I can cherish his memories forever. Thank you.
Posted by: Kelley | December 01, 2015 at 11:49 AM
I'm trying really hard to convince my dad to let me send in our old videotapes and pictures...he's too worried about them getting lost. My mom died over the summer, and I so badly want a way to preserve her voice for my daughter. And for the rest of us, too.
Posted by: Cathy | December 01, 2015 at 01:13 PM
Not that I'm complaining because it's probably the only way I got a code, but the link to this post on Twitter is wrong: amalah.com/amalah/2015/11/to-amy-from-dad.html should be amalah.com/amalah/2015/12/to-amy-from-dad.html.
Posted by: Laura | December 01, 2015 at 01:29 PM
I just got this for my mom for christmas. This is perfect. Thank you so much. She'll be thrilled (and I'll get to see those photos that are always boxed away)
Posted by: Erin Withans | December 01, 2015 at 02:10 PM
My dad died five years ago last week and I am ugly-crying at my desk at work right now. Luckily that sort of thing's not frowned upon here. Thanks for this.
Posted by: Molly | December 01, 2015 at 02:26 PM
I was totally meant to see this today. My Dad died a little over 2 years ago and I have a cassette tape from Christmas 1978 that not only has my Dad's voice, but my Grandparents who have since passed.
Thank you for this..
Posted by: Tam. | December 01, 2015 at 03:21 PM
Oh, yes! This is exactly what I want to give my mom for Christmas. My sister died when she was 15 months and we only have a few videos and photos of her that are slowly aging and becoming useless. She will be so happy to have them safe!
Posted by: Jessica | December 01, 2015 at 05:42 PM
Stop making me cry, Amy. (Not really. Never stop.)
Posted by: Christy | December 01, 2015 at 05:57 PM
Good Lord am I glad I haven't put on makeup today because I sobbed through this whole thing.
Posted by: Jesabes | December 01, 2015 at 07:23 PM
Thank you for this! I've been meaning to have my parents 8mm movies converted for years. They haven't seen them in 30+ years. This will be a great gift.
Posted by: Ashley | December 01, 2015 at 08:34 PM
Tears over here too. I have a VHS tape of old 8MM movies that my mom and dad did before he passed 23 years ago. They didn't do much talking, but what they did I treasure more than words can say. I need to send this to Legacybox along with the VHS of our wedding from 26 years ago and have them converted. Thank you for sharing, Amy.
Posted by: Sue W. | December 02, 2015 at 06:28 AM
Dammit someone is cutting onions in my house too. I read the post and every comment so far and kept looking for the "Like" button to give everyone some love. Thanks for the post, Amy.
Posted by: Bee | December 02, 2015 at 02:02 PM
Dear heavens, the dang onion cutting going on! For Pete's sake, open a window or something.
Seriously, this was one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long time (and I read a LOT of things every day). Thank you for sharing with us.
Posted by: Angie V | December 03, 2015 at 01:51 PM
This is so amazing, so great to know about this company - thank you! So many people don't realize they should record video, capture the voice - pictures are easy but the voice is so critical. The best gift my husband gave me was he was able to retrieve all of these voicemails I thought I had lost. They're dumb messages - simple regular messages from my dad - but man, are they one of my most treasured things.
Posted by: Kat | December 03, 2015 at 04:03 PM
Just days after you made this post, my mother tasked me with digitizing all their old files. Thank you so much for making my job so easy.
Posted by: Cait | December 05, 2015 at 11:51 AM