Memories can both bless and burn, and though the following words were written back in the 1980’s the power of ‘what happened’ is still the same. Hope you have or are making some of the same kind of memories.
Now, there’s no way for you to know that my husband, AW, was a radio Ham* and that WR, one of our sons is also one. It’s a great hobby and a Ham will spend hours happily sitting at the dials, ‘chinning’ as they say, with people all over the world.
So WR called me the other day and said, “Hey, Ma, something neat just happened. I was on the air and when I finished with the fellow I was talking to, began twirling the dial to see if anything interesting was going on.
“All of a sudden I heard someone calling me and, when he signed off, I recognized him as W7NMK, Ray Larsen, one of Dad’s old pals and of course, I answered him.
“It was great, my son told me. Ray said he was turning the dial, not really listening, but when he heard my voice, he said his insides turned over. The years vanished in one breath, and all of a sudden AW was back on the air. Yeah, there was W6ITW ‘chinning’ away again. It gave me quite a turn.”
“Of course, in a second, ” Ray went on, “I knew it had to be you, but for a few seconds I was actually disoriented and wasn’t really sure where or when I was.”
My husband died about ten years ago and it had been quite a while since his voice has been ‘on the air’. So when someone answered a call, just because he ‘knew’ the voice sounded like AW’s, it engulfed me in a round of memories.
He had many good times in his old radio ‘shack’ talking to people around the world, and it pleases me to know that my son does the very same thing, but, in a way it hurts.
Yes, W6ITW and W7JYI, the station call letters of AW’s rigs, sent out thousands of CQ’s . He had a powerful station, reached far and the friends he made were many.
Radio Hams you see, are a breed apart. They sit over their dials, hamming away, the world is theirs, and the friendships they made, although rarely ‘seen’, are real.
I received letters for over two years after AW died from far away people who had just heard of his death and wrote in sorrow, saying they’d wondered why they hadn’t heard him on the air waves.
And Ray Larsen had good reason to know AW’s voice, even through the voice of his son, for he’d been a friend of AW’s ever since he’d been a teenager, and all through their ham radio years. Ray was close again as AW became a Silent Key, and then served as a pallbearer at my husband’s funeral.
I used to wonder how memories could both bless and burn, but life teaches and I wonder no longer. I wouldn’t change one second of the delight my son gets as he hams away, but it’s sad to know that the remnants of the old ITW station, which still remain down stairs, has signed its final ‘over and off.’
(Hams are Amateur Radio Operators)
Copyright 2012 Ethel Ohlin Bradford