Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Time Between the Telling

I'm afraid that one day I'd run out of stories to tell.

I've come to the conclusion that telling stories is one of the things I do best, and one of the ways all people relate. I reminisce with old friends or acquaintances. I share invented stories with people who like to hear stories or read them. But mostly, my conversation is composed largely of telling stories--some over and over again, some only once or twice before they are worn, and then they are gone.

But I'm afraid that one day I might run out. That I'll be sitting around a fire or in front of football game on tv, having a couple beers with the guys after a soccer game, where ever I am, one day, I might be the one who starts a story they've all heard a hundred times and I won't realize it's me they are rolling their eyes at.

I fear this for my father, too. maybe because I have turned out so much like him that seeing this happen to him would be like getting a highly probable look into my own future.

I've grown more into a proper respect for my father than I had when I was a teen. I suppose I didn't hate him or rebel against him as severely as some boys have their fathers, but there were definitely times when I strayed or didn't give his advice the weight the wisdom of his years dictate it should have.

I wouldn't say that I revere him, and perhaps it's because I worry about the imperfections in people in the stories I read and write, that I can certainly say I'm far from sainting him. I don't think there are many people that could/should be sainted.

But I will say that he is a good man. He works hard, even now, when he should be enjoying the lighter load of an empty nester, but perhaps never so hard as when my siblings and I were small children.

Being a father of one, now, myself, and knowing what he accomplished as a father of 4, it seems an almost Herculean task. And he earned stories. Some from his various jobs, some from us being kids. And I always liked hearing his work stories when I was little. I never got tired of them. When I think back, they were most often told to gathered parts of the family when we had all piled into a Caprice and driven the 9-12 hours to Michigan or Ohio. I was probably only 9 or 10 at the time, but the nights, late in the visit, when we'd be thinking more about the trip home, than just being there, when the aunts and uncles were over, and something forgettable was on tv or maybe the thing was actually turned off, but everyone would sit around my grandparents couches and assembled chairs and tell stories.

I loved those nights. So when I go camping with my inlaws, and we huddle around the camp fire or when the holiday dinner is over, and the teams playing on the televised games don't mean a lick to us, I really like the times when the conversation evolves into story telling--everyone has their favorite one they can tell, and some even come with parts for other family members who routinely cut in at the same point to add their part of the recollection.

There isn't anything better than that.

So I'm afraid I'll run out of stories. That maybe one day, I'll have retold a story too many times, and in the time between the telling, haven't lived enough to have any new ones.

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