Posted by: chlost | February 1, 2015

A Once-in-a Lifetime Gift

This past week I received a gift. It came from my daughter-in-law.

It was a complete surprise. Well, she did tell me that she was sending a package to me, but that was all. I had no idea that it was a gift. I expected that maybe it was something that had to do with my granddaughters. Drawings, notes, or perhaps treats from those three little girls. They love to make things like that and give them as presents.

I was totally wrong.

This gift was given in love, and is the most amazing gift I have ever received.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my sister had brought copies of old family videos which included my sister Kathleen.  We had not seen the videos before, and it was quite emotional to see her and to hear her talking. If you recall, I posted about that.

Kathleen was a professional singer. She had a spectacular voice. She sang for a Temple choir, a church choir, a professional Chorale, and had roles in operatic shows as well as more traditional musicals. She lived on the East coast, so we did not see many of her performances.

After watching the videos of my sister at Thanksgiving, we realized that no one has a recording of my sister singing. She sang for over 30 years in one venue or another, and no one had any copies of a performance. Not even a casual song like Happy Birthday.

My daughter-in-law tells me that conversation hit her hard. She never heard my sister sing. She only met her a couple of times. But d-i-l decided then and there to track down any recording that might exist. She knew that the fifth anniversary of Kathleen’s death was coming up, and she was determined to try to find a recording of her singing before that February date.

And she did.

She contacted my sister’s college. They have archived all performances of the school musical performances. Over 30 years ago, my sister performed solos in the school’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. She was a senior in college, at the very beginning of her career. The school sent d-i-l a copy of the performance, as well as several photos and articles about Kathleen.

And out of the blue, I received a small package in the mail containing a jump drive with my college-aged sister singing her Messiah solo

There also was an amazing note from d-i-l, filled with love and the explanation of how and why she did this.

“I never got to hear her sing, and while this is from some time ago, I am glad to have the chance to     hear her voice. I hope though this may cause you sadness, it will also bring you a touch of joy to have her voice near you again.”

I cried like a baby. Even when I think about it now, tears fill my eyes and my heart hurts.

What a true gift. My heart is full of amazement and gratitude that she did this.

My sister would be cringing to know that it is her young, virtually untrained and immature voice that we have in this recording. Her voice sounded much different in later years.

But one of the even more amazing twists to this gift is that Merle and I were at this 1981 performance of the Messiah. We traveled through a very dangerous ice storm, along with our oldest son (then just a year old) and Merle’s parents in order to see this concert.

Of course we never could have guessed that I would be listening to it again 34 years later while bawling my eyes out.

Thank you.



  1. What an incredible gift. I am crying just reading about this.

    I recently acquired my mom’s diaries spanning more than 60 years. I, too, have been thinking of a way I can share this incredible treasure with the rest of my family.

    Bless your daughter-in-law for giving your family a most memorable and treasured gift.

  2. Wow, that is an amazing gift. That was such a thoughtful thing your DIL did. It is kind of eerie that the recording is of the performance that you’d gone to.

    • Yes. It was a performance I specifically recall, and now it is the only one we have. Thanks aren’t really enough for that.

  3. Lovely gift and d-i-l!

    • Agreed.

  4. My goodness. What a shock. But of the good kind:) The serendipities here almost defy belief: this is a truly wonderful, thoughtful and more-than-special gift. It also implies a great bond between you and your daughter in law. I am sure that, in part, your own attitude has brought this about. How lovely to see the “bread coming back from the water”.

    • Yes, I think serendipity is the word. My dil and I have had our differences, but I do love her. This gift shows that I think she loves us too.

  5. A beautiful story and your DIL is a real keeper.

    • It still makes me teary.

  6. Well, now I’m crying. The gift in itself is extraordinary–I mean EXTRAORDINARY. But the fact that it came from your daughter-in-law adds a whole new dimension to this expression of love. Wow.

    My dad was a voice professor and opera singer. Only in the last two months (12 years after his death) have I been able to listen to his voice; it’s such a deep part of my memories of him.

    • My dad loved to sing as well, and was in an all male chorus when I was a kid. Even now, I love to hear male voices singing, and the lower their voice range, the more it moves me. My dad was a very large man with a large bass voice.

      Music is a large part of my whole family. My daughter also has a beautiful voice, and did vocal performance through college.

  7. Wow. That gave me chills. Just an amazing gift?

    • I hope to someday give someone a gift like this one.

  8. That is truly a gift from the heart. What an act of love from your dil, and what a serenade of love from beyond. So happy for you!

    • Thanks. It is wonderful on so many levels. I cherish it.

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