Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stories


I remember sitting in wonderment whenever Joan would recount tales of her childhood. The stories might not have even been that grand (well except the one about the tub of lard, it was exceptional!), but Joan's storytelling abilities could have made a trip to the grocery store seem fantastical. She knew exactly when to give a long pause, when to softy whisper, and the arm movements... oh the arm movements! It was like watching a one woman play! She had a flair for the dramatic which always was a plus when it came to her stories. Over the years parts would be exaggerated to keep her adoring audience enthralled. Even as a grown woman I enjoyed listening to her stories for not only entertainment's sake but to see how they had evolved.

So I guess when your wife is such a talented orator you decide to sit on the sidelines and let her do her thing. My Papa was always great with that, letting Joan have her rightful spot in the limelight. Joan was one of those women who should have been famous. She would have loved it! And her penmanship was fantastic, so signing autographs would have come naturally to her.

I digress... so Papa took the back seat. Now when I think back there was very few stories of my Papa's childhood shenanigans. Any stories I heard about Papa were always ones that Joan told. Since Joan's passing Papa has started sharing more and more. He is still a man who prefers to live his life in a way that does not demand notice, praise, or extra attention. However (like all of us) he still has a story uniquely his to tell. Maybe it is losing two grandparents in 2 years, maybe it is having a child of my own, but now in days I pause and take the time to hear his quieter, but just as interesting of tales.

When Papa comes for his monthly visit I relish the time when Landry is down for her nap. Yes, yes, of course I want Landry to have quality time with her Papa. But I look forward and cherish the hours we get just the two of us. I fix us up a pot of coffee and we sit around my dining room table and just talk. Usually our conversations begin over politics. Papa and I are always solving the world's problems. I bring my slightly liberal perspective and Papa brings his compassionate conservatism. We discuss how no side has it right, and no one is looking after the middle class anymore. "Did you hear what Donald Trump said now?" We both sign exasperated with the game of politics but equally captivated by it.

The conversation always takes a turn towards religion next. We discuss predestination, free will, and dissect different verses in the Bible. Papa... my self-taught theologian. The man knows the Bible better than almost anyone I know. Try going against him in Bible trivia, you will lose! And from religion comes recounting stories and sharing memories...

This week I was treated to the tales of his days in the army. Like I said before, stories of ole' were always Joan's speciality so these stories were brand new to me. Papa tells me that he usually paid someone to iron his uniform, but when he was desperate he would simply lay his clothes under his mattress and sleep on it. I chuckle because that behavior is so Papa, ever the resourceful man. Work smarter, not harder! He tells me how he got out of several days of training to drive. I think about how I am grateful the military didn't break him, how it didn't turn him into a tough man. How thankful I am that he made it home before Vietnam because I am certain he couldn't have handled the atrocities taking place. His gentle and compassionate spirit would not have lasted.

Papa said he was a terrible marched. His sergeant would come up behind him and yell "you're not pushing a plow or following a mule!" I giggle and tell Papa he was probably just like Gomer Pyle in the military. He agrees. A country boy from a small town slightly out of his element but good natured!

I'm always a little sad when our time comes to a close. I am more than aware of how fleeting time is, how the untold stories, unshared memories will be lost forever someday in the not so distant future. I have so much I wish I still knew about Joan and my Nana. So I try to take every opportunity to listen a little more when Papa has something to say, and soak up every bit of life's wisdom he has learned along the way.

5 comments:

  1. Loved Joan and love Roy! Your blog post today reminds me of what my mother says about her parents. She was so close to her mother, who was a dominant personality and always garnered the attention. She passed away way too soon and never got to know my daughter whom she would have thoroughly spoiled. Mom said that in the scheme of things she believes that it was meant to be that she lost her mother so soon because only after her passing did she really get to know her father and totally become a daddy's girl.

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  2. Brittany, This is so sweet. Mama just comes to life when you describe her. I can just see her! And precious Roy.....still waters run deep. He was always happy to let her be front and center but he was her rock!

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  3. What a sweet post! What precious time with your Papa. I can just see both of them. It makes me want to slow down and listen more.

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    1. Thanks Nicole! We all get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to listen to the wisdom and stories of the ones who came before. There is so much to learn!

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