Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash
So as I sat and listened to the story, I knew how it would end. I’ve already heard it four times. In fact, I know some of the details they’ve left out in this rendition. I don’t say anything. I try not to roll my eyes. I Io my best to listen, or at least appear to be listening. But in my mind I wonder, “When will I start telling the same story over and over? Do I already do that?”
Too many times, as soon as I recognize the story, my mind shuts off. I stop listening. I’ve already heard this.
To avoid being that guy, I’ll make sure I ask, “Have I told you about…?” Or I begin by saying, “Stop me if I’ve told you this before.”
And yet, there are some stories we enjoy hearing over and over again. As children, we haul out the same book over and over again for mom or dad to read to us. Or we’ll say, “Tell me that story again.”
Every get tired of hearing the Christmas story?
There are some stories I wish I could hear.
- I wish I could hear the story of how my mom’s mother and father met. She was a nanny who had immigrated from England. He was a Spanish-speaking machinist who grew up in Costa Rica. While I remember her well, I only vaguely remember him. As I look back at pictures, though, I cannot imagine who these two got together. But there is no one left in the family who can tell me that story.
- I wish I could hear the story about the birth and death of my little brother Robert. He was born just eleven months after me but only lived three months. As far as I know, we only have a birth certificate, a picture of his tombstone, and a vague description of him as a “blue baby.” He was always remembered but never talked about.
- I wish I could hear more of my dad’s stories from his travels in the South Pacific during World War II. He kept a careful record of every island and atoll he stopped at in 1944 and 45. But like many veterans, he didn’t often share details about those days. All we have are a few of his handwritten letters home.
The people who could tell me those stories have died. They’ve taken their stories with them.
So I remind myself that these are precious moments. I try to pay attention and listen. These voices are leaving stories behind for me to remember and retell.
Tell me the story.