There is a lovely suburb in Sydney known for its federation homes, immaculate gardens, and Italian pastries! This ‘little Italy’ of Haberfield is a great place to soak in some Italian atmosphere and taste delicious cuisine. Our two children love the library there (and the gelato!), so we spent a morning in Haberfield during the recent school holidays.
As we were driving home, we passed a large group of people wearing black. They were hugging and talking outside a church and it was clear they had just attended a funeral.
I noticed one lady walk away from the group to pluck a small bunch of rosemary that was planted near the footpath. I watched her twist the thin leaves between her fingers and lean in to breathe in the aroma before looking up to the clear blue sky.
Rosemary, the plant of remembrance, seemed to beckon this lady to her own quiet moment to remember.
There are moments in life when distractions slip away, allowing the heart to clearly see what really matters.
It can be in a moment of bliss, in the flow of inspiration, when life feels light and clear. It can also be in moments of sadness and loss.
When celebrating the life of someone dear to us we also feel the preciousness of our existence. The heart seeks to live better and to love better.
In late 2020, I sat with my beloved Auntie Monnie to guide her spoken greeting for my mum’s Story Collection. In a friendly ‘interview’, my Auntie talked about her memories of Mum: their shared childhood, the games they would play, times spent with their parents and extended family, travel stories, the songs they would sing together, the fun they would have, their similarities, and their differences… Despite my aunt’s declining health, I was able to capture her memories in this precious voice recording.
Almost a year ago, my Auntie Monnie passed away. We will always have her recollections, but almost more importantly, we will have her reactions to my questions! Her laugh, her quick-witted jokes, her quirky way of weaving song lyrics into her daily dialogue… We will have the timbre of her voice in this relaxed moment, sharing words just for her sister. My mum, in these hard times of grief, can hear her sister’s words when she needs comfort or connection.
When I started The Story Collection, the optimistic romantic in me wanted to focus on love and the power of someone knowing – right here and now – all the ways in which they are cherished. My focus was not on all the ways this audio gift could leave a legacy.
But life isn’t always about optimistic romance. Sometimes life is horribly hard, laden with disappointment, uncertainty, fear, loss, and sorrow and there is a place for storytelling in every season of human emotion.
In some ways, The Story Collection is a joyful eulogy for the living – a moment for someone to be able to listen to their life, spoken by others: the memories, the love, and the friendship they have gathered so far in their life’s journey.
The legacy of audio storytelling is not only wonderful for future generations to hear about lives lived before them but also in the here and now, connecting voice and story to those we love.