"How do we know about those around us?...Sit close to someone you love and implore that person to tell and tell and tell their story. " -Thanhha Lai
We’d sit close on the sofa, but not before my grandmother smoothed the scratchy coverlet, the one with white gray roses as big as cabbages that seemed to match the wallpaper in Papa’s room. She’d tell me stories. I only remember a few. As a young impressionable boy, my father aimed for piety. He would pretend that he was a priest. His religious collar-a Kotex pad. Each time Gram told me that story she would laugh holding her belly, but she told it in a way that expressed her love for my father and his resourceful ways. He did not become a priest. I think that thought was short lived.
My grandmother threw up just once in her life. The cross country trip from Washington, DC to San Francisco was hot. She unloaded in a gas station rest room that did not meet my grandmother’s strict standards of cleanliness. Two stories. One kotex and a whole life time of experiencing the wretchedness of “tossing your cookies” just once. I remember that story because it seemed like I had become adept at holding a bowl under my chin. Oh how I long to remember something really really important. Something really really meaningful. Decades of stories lost on a girl who didn’t know better.
Do I know better now? I am not sure. At one point in my life, actually several points in my life I toyed with the idea of becoming a Social Worker. Psychology fascinated me. Mostly, I thought I was a good listener. Is it because life has become complex? Everyone is moving about so fast. Is it that I have a tendency to be anxious and to jump to conclusions? I stopped listening. I stopped listening well.
Listen. Invite the stories to come.