“Do you recall when Dad shared this story with you?”
I was glad to hear Jon recount Dad’s sad tale. Without knowing it, Jon had confirmed a missing piece to the puzzling last day of our paternal grandmother’s life.
Hints between the lines of what my paternal grandfather didn’t tell and what made print in two newspaper accounts of the fatal car crash allowed me to piece together the why. What came as a surprise were the two extra jigsaw pieces Jon threw on the table I hadn’t known were missing.
But isn’t this just how stories are put together? One person receives part, another deduces some other detail, both keep what they know until one day, they sit down to compare parts and piece the story together. Of course, we never know whether we’ve gotten the story right since much gets lost in history and in our own and others interpretation. But it doesn’t stop us from trying, especially when the story concerns one we love.
When it comes to Daddy and his story, there are many missing pieces and lots of room for interpretation. There is a period of Dad’s life — two years, maybe more — that I’ve come to regard as the silent years. His sister Carol once asked Dad about this period of his life but Dad declined to talk about it.
Some can’t wait to tell what’s going on in their lives while others keep their stories to themselves. Dad told his story as he felt the need, or when he hoped something good might come from the telling, which is how my brother came to know what he shared. Yesterday made me realize some stories are better kept in reserve until ripe for the telling.
Aren’t you going to tell us the story?
Actually, this is a really interesting piece. It was hard for me to read because I don’t know the “backstory” as you do. Every time you mentioned “the story” I thought, “Ah, ha! Now she’s going to tell us!” And started looking for the story again.
Now, of course you don’t need to share a personal story that may not belong on a blog page anyway. But maybe there’s a general point here for all story-telling – “Tell the story, don’t talk about the story”.
You know me well enough by now to believe me when I say this isn’t meant as criticism. I’m just absolutely amazed by my own response, and thinking again about how powerful those childhood words are: “Tell me a story….
I knew someone would notice I had decided not to tell Dad’s story.
Someday I hope to tell it… though probably not here. Maybe in that memoir I began in Iowa?
But what I know for now is Dad’s story, including the missing pieces supplied by my brother Jon, are all ripening within me.
Yesterday’s story making print in this blog was small — though my posthumous learning from Dad was big — converging on the importance of telling stories ripe.
By the way… no criticism taken.