In Honor of the Storytellers

I love stories about our past. I love the facts, embellishments, pictures and jokes about our younger years. It follows that I that I love the storytellers... the ones who remember the past and are able to share those memories with the rest of us.

It is a fact that I married a man who remembers everything from his childhood and so much more. Though some of those memories are painful, he was able to preserve the ones that were good and that made him laugh. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with Mr. S.

In the good old days when we traveled and met new people, I was fascinated by the way he could tell a story and coax someone to do the same. That ability is special. There's more in timing here than talking. You have to know when to talk and when to be silent. You have to know when to give a polite acknowledgment, a shake of the head or a pat on the hand. You have to listen.

In layman's terms... there should always be a talker and a talkee ...the delicate balance is determined between these two. One can't be more than the other. It's an agreement which flows through conversation.

In our recent journey to Brownsville I was reminded of this balance of words because I was surrounded by stories. Some were painful and some were very, very funny. If you get more than four members of the Geezer Tribe together in one place... you'll find stories that will make the tips of your ears turn red while you laugh. Why? We have some masters in our group.

In this case, we had a group of six... which is a bonus. Stories of childhood, family and school were shared. We also talked about our lives now, always a good thing. We're friends and share a great deal in common... not only in our upbringing and history...but in our lives today.

Without Facebook, some members of this group of friends wouldn't know each other... but they do, and those friendships get stronger as time goes by. Why? We are telling our stories and sharing pictures of family and friends each week and often, every day. One line, one picture or one paragraph, many of us are closer to each other than we were to our own families. We've become a family and are making our own stories.

I grew up in a military family with a mother who was a storyteller of a different kind. We lived along way from home. Emergency calls were the only ones we could afford to make. Since we couldn't talk with family members, Mom wrote letters home to Oregon and sent pictures so that our story would be told. She did this for more than 25 years. At the same time she sent letters to my father every day, telling him the story of his own family.

Storytellers come in all shapes and sizes. The truth is we are no different than anyone else. We have had the same lives other people have had, some more exciting, some more tragic, others dull as dirt. Storytellers are only so because they look at life a little differently. They find pieces of it to keep and retell. They find humor where others see tragedy. They sift through life and spin the good and bad into words we want to hear.

I know these things because I spent 35 years in the newspaper business and I'm a storyteller, too. I didn't think of myself that way until one day in a doctor's office when I made him laugh until he got teary over my adventures with a pretty serious medical problem. I said, “Well, I guess I've wasted this appointment time.” He said, “Never. You made my day better because you can't help yourself. You are a reporter so you have more words to say, you have to report everything!” Then he laughed some more. I did, too.

Think about the storytellers you know and I'll bet you'll get a giggle. I really like the animated ones and find that we do more acting out as we get older. Of course some of us are limited to flailing our arms because if we try to get up and show you a story, we'll probably fall down and create another one. Bet it'll be a good one, too.

If you let it be, getting old is the best story fodder of all because we remember all the good stuff from when we were young and find old gold in each new day.

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