I’m a storyteller. Not by accident. I grew up listening to my parents and grandparents regale stories of celebrations, misfortune, humor, and the life they experienced. I also grew up with The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Little House on the Prairie, and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Both of my parents read to me before naps and bedtime. I am the youngest in my family and I cherished the moments before my nap. While my older sister was astutely impressing her Kindergarten teacher with high math and an unusually broad knowledge of… well… everything, I was snuggled up to my mom picturing what it would really be like to live on the prairie with only the protection of a brindle bulldog named Jack… or why the man sitting on the stump of that relentlessly generous tree looked so sad at the end of the book… or if Charlie Bucket’s father actually worked at a toothpaste factory because I had never heard of such a job.
I’m actually a story listener. Recently I finished listening to a podcast that was meted out carefully by just one episode a week. I looked forward to every Thursday, knowing that was the day that if I could find a quiet moment, I would have the luxury of listening while more details slowly dripped out to create a full cup of story. My son once told me that he loves soup because, “it hits all the spots.” Well-told stories, fiction and nonfiction, fill me up and hit all the spots… much like soup.
Early this morning, I learned of the death of a close friend’s father. I never met him. I only knew of him through my friend’s rich stories of laughter, love, struggle, loneliness, and determination. I wanted to know more about him. Thanks to Google, I was able to find an incredible account of his military career and service in Korea in an article titled, “Hometown Hero.” Several years ago, his hometown newspaper was drawn to his story and published a poignant account of how he so bravely and humbly served our country. I looked further and found photos posted by friends and family. Photos of stunning happiness with his bride, a proud father with his children, and true laughter with his friends. He was loved, admired, and blessed. He leaves behind a treasury of stories.
As 2014 comes to a close and all the TV networks are replaying all the big stories of the year, the world remembers all the tragedy, happiness, and unlikely events that unfolded throughout the year. These are, for sure, stories worth telling… but someday, I want to live in a world where the Hometown Hero gets top billing and children can hardly wait to find out if Charlie Bucket will, indeed, find the last golden ticket.