She was my first and favorite storyteller. My mom. She can paint a picture of what growing up in a small town was like and make me long to be there, too. When I was little, she told me all about her family, friends, and neighbors in that small town. The people there seemed to be suspended in time until she told me another story, and they would come to life again.
Here’s a favorite little clip from her life: When Mom was a pre-teen, her family had ducks, and those ducks had an excellent sense of time and direction. Every Saturday afternoon, they would waddle from her house past the neighbors’ houses, down Main Street, past the café and the courthouse, to the movie theater. They would stand by the side door and wait until a theater employee threw out the unpopped popcorn kernels. The ducks would feast on the kernels and then turn around and waddle toward home in front of the whole town. Mom says, “It was so embarrassing!”
Mom’s stories taught me how to be content with what you have; how to be grateful for small things, like home-grown tomatoes in the summertime and oranges in your Christmas stocking; how to be a good neighbor; how to keep going even in the midst of great losses.
In addition to her stories, I grew up listening to the Bible, read and taught to us in Sunday School every week and Vacation Bible School every summer. The Bible is a book of fascinating stories that, together, tell one big, compelling story. If you haven’t read it, it’s well worth your time. Get a copy or look it up online. Start in the book of Mark, and then let me know what you think.
Another good storyteller in my life is my husband Mart, who uses voices and accents to make you laugh. He comes by it honestly; his father is a consummate storyteller, and his siblings and their spouses all love stories—the funnier the better. They’ve taught me how laughter can make hard times a little easier.
For someone who loves story, I’m sad to say that I’m not good at telling them. I often forget important details, or my timing is off, or I mess up the last line. So I usually just look over at Mart and say, “Tell them about the time when…”
Personally, I prefer the pen-to-paper, or fingers-to-keys, method of storytelling. I love the process of writing, and I love sharing the finished result.
But it all started when I was a little girl, when I heard stories from the Bible, old, familiar treasures to me now. And when I heard my mother tell her stories. As I was writing this post, I called her up. “Hey, Mom. Tell me about the time when…”
Do you like story? Do you like to tell stories? What’s your favorite story? I’d love to hear.