How An Audio Recording of My Grandmother Inspired Me

Hailey's Comment

“It was good to hear her voice.”

This sentence was on the tip of my tongue, but the words wouldn’t come out without my eyes welling up. So I didn’t say it, but it was on my heart.

I was having lunch with my mom, my husband my sister and her boyfriend at a mexican food restaurant in central Phoenix. My sister had been asking about the CD we listened to earlier that day in the car ride back from Prescott. She didn’t make the trip this time to see my Great Uncle and Aunt who live there. During this trip my Uncle made us a copy of an interview he recorded back in 2010 with my great grandmother, my ‘grams’.. everybody’s ‘grams’..when she was still alive.

We were all very close with my Great Grandmother, my mother’s Grandmother “Grams” Frances Mahony. She was 92-years-old and full of life and hilarity until the end. She was the matriarch of our family, and I am her namesake. She hit the gym, regularly went to mass, enjoyed a clean house, a good smoke and tanning topless by the pool. Oh, and she wanted President Barack Obama to be our President. A very progressive woman, she worked full-time, raised her children and helped raise my mother and her siblings too.

She passed three years ago in April, but it still feels as if she is very present in our lives through stories we share and “grams-like” sayings we recite.

“To the moon Alice”

“Well.. I’ll be dammmmned.” This one always said with general excitement and astonishment.

There’s just something about being able to listen to her voice as my Uncle navigated her through stories about her life that feels so comforting to me now. She talked about her childhood, 8 siblings sharing 2 bedrooms and 1 outhouse. Not having the heart to watch her dad slaughter the family cow. Her family helping her get back on her feet after a failed marriage left her raising two small kids. And her managers working her to the bone at her bank job.

“What did they want me to stick a broom up my ___ so I could sweep the floor too?!”.

Slightly colorful and wickedly funny phrases like this were so typically my Great Grandmother.  

I am so thankful my Uncle had the foresight to sit her down and document her life in her own voice.

After listening to this I feel compelled to encourage you to do this for yourself. If you have an aging or sick family member, please waste no time documenting their stories through video or audio. I promise you it will be the best gift you can give your family. This audio recording is truly more precious than any inheritance she could have left us with. I can’t wait to share this with my children one day. I hope they won’t pick up any off-color remarks from it, but then again maybe I hope they do.


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