Our Family Stories

When my parents first got married, my half-sister was six. All the time she would ask him for stories about when he was her age. She wanted to know all about him. My dad though, ever practical, had no desire to tell my sister the true stories of his youth. These were tales filled with disobeying parents, sneaking out of the house, freaking out babysitters and just generally getting in trouble.

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Eventually he came up with the tales that developed what I think may be his secret super power- story telling. These are detailed, dramatic stories full of perilous situations and child heroes. My favorite might be the ones where his mother is pregnant with him. She is in the car driving somewhere, lost and my father realizes her confusion. He peeks out of her bellybutton (which is apparently more like a little skylight) and tells her which way to go. She listens and they get where they are supposed to! This story is an adorable and quintessential little bit of Dad- he’s the hero but also, a bit of a know it all.

This Easter we were able to bring these stories into the lives of my nieces. My mother emailed Dad requesting he clarify the details of his Easter story and he did one better- he wrote out the whole thing! For years I have been requesting this and it was an incredible treat to have. It was made better only by my oldest niece reading the story of how “Granddaddy” saved Easter aloud to all of us.

 

I never thought of my dad as a writer until recently. These stories have been with us for so long there were just part of a part of his goofiness we cherished as children. But now that he writes us infamously long emails about his travels, I can see it. Everything he writes is full. It’s sensory, it’s visual, it’s emotional. This is the way he describes a taxi ride but also, how his travels have impacted him. It’s all with the same intensity. I’m especially glad my nieces can experience this, even if their Granddaddy is thousands of miles away.

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Public Speaking Makes Me Nauseous

You might call me a nervous Nellie. Speaking in front of a large group of people, even if I know them very well, is enough to bring heat to my face, start my heart racing and my stomach turning. It’s something I occasionally try to address but have made little progress with. My college public speaking class, my company’s speaking class for 12 weeks and even our monthly public speaking luncheon still left with my stomach in my throat every time I opened my mouth. But there is a pretty clear difference. I’m willing to speak in public now. Even though I’m red-faced while speaking rapidly while I start to sweat and might even cry, I still stand up (most of the time).

It’s what I would very generously call a work in progress, but despite all that I am actually working on it and progressing. It was a very small thing but last week I went to check out Speak Easy, a monthly story competition at Five Star Tavern. Normally there’s a theme and people sign up to tell a story on that theme. This time despite the decent sized crowd not a single person volunteered to speak. To combat this problem they had people volunteer to have the audience ask them questions. The theme was Karma Police. You may see the connection there. From the moment I was told about this change of plans I was on edge. Regardless I volunteered and answered a few questions at the mic. I even got a few laughs. Since it was a bar it’s possible no one even noticed my red face!

To take matters worse I’ve officially joined a Toastmasters Club. If you’re not familiar with this organization, people join to become better and more confident speakers. Welcome to my new constant world of nausea!

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