Radio nights 

the thump of feet on floor and a shadow in my doorway… my youngest daughter arrives with a bad dream in her arms for me to hug away.  i tuck her in again and she presses her eyes shut but cannot sleep.  the noises of the world frighten her this night, the night after the attacks.  i bring a radio to her room, a thing virtually unknown to my children. i turn it on, and love the slight pressure of dialing the big knob to scratchy low classical music.  i tell her a story against the backdrop of some beethoven and pat her back until she breathes easy and her eyes droop low into a restful sleep. 

*    *    *

when i was young, i went to sleep to the sound of the radio every night.  i’m not sure how it started but maybe it was just like this – a bad dream child and a sleepy head parent both looking for a path to comfort and rest. my father set up the heavy glossy receiver in my room and each evening i would turn the big round knob to a radio station on which a low throated man was gently calling out songs all night long. sometimes i memorized the more popular evening lyrics and wrote down snippets the next morning before school.  when a massive ice storm struck town and we had no electricity for several weeks, my dad bought a generator to run essentials at home. and even though power was precious and we otherwise sat huddled around the gas stove in our small kitchen and took frosty cold showers, he hooked up the radio so i could sleep at night. it was one of my father’s most affectionate gestures and i never forgot it. 

*    *    *

now, my father has been dead a good long time and my mother has died too. my recollections of their love are small and dim and i strain to hear these distant memories through the static reception of the radio speaker. 

all of this i remember aloud while i sit with my daughter. i’m not even certain she hears all of my story.  

i leave the radio in her room for several days in case she wants it again, in case she wants this memory too. but she does not : she has her own happy memories and many more good nights than i did as a girl.

at week’s end, i tuck the silent radio into storage. 


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