Early November. We were supposed to have been in Toronto by November first. Things always take longer than you think they're going to, especially when you're moving. It's difficult for Mom to leave the house, even if it's just for the winter. But last winter was so hard and she will be turning 87 this year, she needs to be where she can keep active. Nonetheless, it's the only home she's known in Canada; her mother lived here for a time, also, when she first arrived and later when age made it too difficult for her to keep her apartment in Picton. Dad's mom, who he cared for, died in this house. Grandfather Frizzell died out by the barn, I believe. Dad wanted to die here, too, but had to go to the hospital in the end. Though his spirit does linger.
I decided to give the grass one last cut. I wasn't going to, but Dad always gave it that one last low cut in the fall after letting it grow long. It was supposed to help keep the weeds down in the spring and make the first cut easier. The extra mulch was also good for the lawn.
The headphone jack on my iphone had been damaged in September and my ipod was no longer holding a charge so I had resorted to using my Walkman (which I hadn't used in years and had only recently found one that worked) a few cuts ago. I grabbed three cassettes: Tony Apler, A Taste for Wine, a Fuji recordable tape without a label, and a cassette with a home-made label with Irish comedy written on it in green. I had found the Irish comedy tape in my office when I was packing the office up the day before; I didn't recognize it and I don't know where it come from.
While cutting I listened to the wine tape, first. It gave pointers on tasting and cooking with wine and the joy of sharing it with friends etc.. I had always enjoyed drinking wine (since developing a taste for it, through necessity, as a teen. The necessity being that I was at a party and there was nothing else to drink.) After my native home, Prince Edward County, became a wine region, and I went to work at Rosehall Run and then Devil's Wishbone winery, my interest grew. When Tony Aper had finished I put on the Fuji tape. It turned out to be Toad to Wet Sprocket, recorded back when I was in college.
I finished the lawn quickly. Some parts, that were shaded by trees, hadn’t grown much since last time I cut it; not having to cut close to the trees sped things up considerably.
“Dad would be happy,” I said, as came into the house. He was very proud of his well-kept lawn.
I had a cup of coffee. I checked my facebook and took a call. I went to go back out and put the lawnmower away for the winter.
I was on my way out the door when I turned back. It wouldn't take me long to put the lawnmower away, so it wasn't really worth getting wired for sound. Nonetheless, I picked up the Walkman, again. I felt I should check to see what was on the Irish Comedy cassette before it went into the back of a drawer and was again forgotten about.
I inserted the cassette into the yellow player. I pressed play. Nothing. I fast forwarded it a little bit. Nothing. I fast forwarded it a little bit more. Nothing. I was about to turn it off when I heard a crackle. I didn’t recognize that crackled, it’s been so long since I heard it, but it was the sound of someone pressing the record button.
I heard her start to sing, ‘The Mountains of Mourne’, and then I heard his voice. I can’t really describe in this moment what that moment was like. I needed to be sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing. I walked into the room and held an ear bud to Mom’s ear.
She smiled slightly, tears came to her eyes.
“Is that you and Dad singing?” I asked.
I put the cassette into the stereo so we could hear it properly.
It was the first time hearing him in 11 years. Their singing filled the room, once more.
There was just the one song and then the tape went into an Irish Comedy routine that it was labelled for.
The cassette in is a protective case now. Dad’s name added to the label. It won’t be going into the back of a drawer. For a back-up I recorded it with my camera and am sharing it here, with you. It's only a minute, but it's a minute that crossed time, and the great divide, and it means so much.