Ham Radio – Life After Death

A Silent Key* is still heard . . .

      I thought I was long through with the tears that memories after a death can bring.  That the hurts were all tucked away in closed rooms that I only glance in now and then.  Almost as if they had happened to another person.

       But the I received a start the other day that taught me no matter how busy and happy I am (and I am) the past is still a tangible part of me and–I suppose–always will be.

       Now, you may or may not know that my husband, AW, was a radio ‘Ham’* and 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, Mom, something odd just happened that I think you’ll like.  I was on the air and when I finished with the fellow I was talking to, I twirled 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.  It was Ray Larsen, one of Dad’s old pals and so I answered him.

       “It was nice,” WR said.  “Ray said he was also turning the dial, not really listening, when he heard my voice and he told me, ‘My insides turned over.  All of a sudden the years vanished in one breath and it was AW back ‘on the air’.  Yup, all of a sudden it was W7JYI on the air and there was AW chinning away.  It gave me quite a turn.’

       “’ I knew in a second, of course,’ Ray went on, ‘That it had to be you, one of AW’s sons (ham call sign K7EA), but for a few seconds I wasn’t really sure where or when I was. ’ ”

       My husband, AW, of course is no longer with us, and so it’s been quite a while since his voice has been ‘on the air’.  So when someone answered a call, just because he ‘knew’ the voice was AW’s, I was immediately engulfed in a round of memories.

       We had many a good time in the radio ‘shack’** talking to people around the world, and it pleases me to know that WR now does the very same thing, but – – – in a way it hurts.

       Yes, W6ITW and W7JYI, the station call letters of AW’s stations, were sent out thousands of times.  He had a powerful station, that reached far and the friends he made were many.

       Radio Hams, you see, are a breed apart.  They sit over their dials, hamming away and the world is theirs.  The friendships they make, although rarely ‘seen’, are most 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 recently heard him on the air waves.

       And Ray Larsen had good reason to know AW’s voice–even through the body of his son–for he’d been a friend of AW’s ever since he’d been a teenager, and had been 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 old W7JYI station, down in my basement, became long ago, a Silent Key.***

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 *“Hams” are officially known as Amateur Radio Operators.   

**Their Station is called a “Ham Shack”, the equipment is their ‘rig’,  and their conversations with other Hams are called  ‘Chinning’.

*** “Silent Key” refers to the piece of Equipment, (The Key) that the operator used to tap out the Dits and Dahs of the original Morse Code and became  Silent, and   sends out no more messages because of the Operator’s death.’

ethelbrad@comcast.net

Today’s blog with the needed help of my son WR, aka  K7EA 

 

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