Stories

Goldie
One of my favorite memories from when I was young is of sitting on my grandmother's covered front porch during thunderstorms. Generally when we visited, there were other relaThe house in Sterlingtives there, too, and the house was full. The only time I remember not sleeping in a small double bed with at least two other relatives was when I slept on my grandfather's recliner. It was one of the early recliners with an oak frame and a push button in one arm that released the back of the chair. It's in my studio now. After attempting to sleep in it one night, I decided I preferred to share a bed and risk having the covers pulled off, or worse, falling onto the floor. I even preferred sleeping with my elderly grandma who did the old person breathing--you know, the "shnort, schnunkle, shnort" then silence for 30 seconds breathing. I'd lie next to her in bed, awake, thinking, "breathe, Grandma, please breathe.."

I digress...

During thunderstorms, we all sat on the front porch and ate pie. There was room for maybe six or seven people to fit comfortably. We'd usually have 15 or 20 of us crammed together, sitting on the chairs, the railings, the floor, and on laps. While the thunder crashed and the lightening lit up the sky and the rain fell and reminded us that we did, after all, live in a high desert, my uncles and aunts would tell stories.

Their stories were just simple tales of growing up on the farm in northeast Colorado. We heard about all the different ways my uncles got into mischief, about how my mom rode a horse that was not the most obedient creature and would often run away with her, how her first "horse" was a stick of fence wood that her brothers names "Old Stick-a-Fence". We heard about the time Grandma was baking bread and forgot to punch down the dough and came back in to see the dough had risen so much it was over the edge of the bowl and over the edge of the table.

I thought about this again after my daughter and I watched the movie, Dreamkeeper, the other day. I highly recommend this beautiful movie. It is filled with stories from various Native American traditions. As a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, storytelling was a big part of my job and stories are told in all the grades. It is considered part of the art of teaching and was the part of teaching I fell in love with. Stories can be healing, reassuring, powerful.

It made me think. What are the stories we are learning from our parents and grandparents? What are the stories we are handing down to our children and grandchildren. The last time our grandkids were over, I took a moment to tell them one of my stories. I barely got started when our oldest grandson looked at me and smiled and said, "Papa (their dad/my son) told us this story."

Made my day.

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