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August 10th, 2008

It’s funny how stories are passed. You hear a detail here, a detail there, and sometimes one aspect gets enlarged and becomes another story altogether. If you’ve heard a family story as a kid, often times the tale becomes just that: fireside folklore lacking even the faintest hint of truth.

 

Inspired by my post the other day and wanting to know the “real” story behind the stories my dad told us kids, I called him a few nights ago to ask for more details. He brushed me off, clearly not receptive to telling stories. I hung up, convinced more than ever that I’d grown up with a skilled and fantastical storyteller, who regaled us with fiction to lull us to sleep, but now, older and wiser, had no time for telling tales.

 

But, this morning my dad called and told me he was ready to tell me his stories. Older and wiser, indeed. Perhaps now he sees that his kids want to put our lives in some sort of context, know what’s true or not, wade through the details of our lives and pay it some testimony. I don’t know. What I can say is that I never get my dad like this: ready to tell every detail without fantasmogoria, pumping up, smoke and mirrors.

 

And so for about 45 minutes I listened in silence as my dad told me the real stories. And in the final analysis, I had some things wrong, other things very right. I’m humbled by what I wrote about “Bill,” because I made it a joke and it was very much not a joke. Real peoples’ lives were changed forever and it’s clear that my dad’s was one of them. My dad still keeps “Bill’s” suicide note, for one. And that is very real.

 

Meanwhile, I’m feeling a bit sublime. I realize my dad opened up to me this morning, and I’m going to hold onto that for a bit. Later, I’ll tell you some more stories.

 

On August 10th, 2008, Csquaredplus3 said:

Paradigm shifts can be so humbling. Tender of you to see things more clearly regarding “Bill”.

Sounds like you have a nice relationship with your father – what a gift…

On August 10th, 2008, deborah said:

Such an “every family” story to find yourself with a jumble of impressions and big gaps in history, but so often the children don’t think about following up until it’s too late. So glad you had an opportunity to find your dad in a receptive mood and that you got to the heart of some of these stories. It’s like found treasure. I wish I’d done the same before I lost my dad.

On August 10th, 2008, kate said:

my dad has about 15 stories that he loves to tell. they’re almost all with him horseback, either as a pick-up man at the rodeo or from hunting camp. i love to hear them because they get a little bit better every single time he tells them. here’s one i like to tell, at my wedding, i wore white cowboy boots under my wedding dress, mostly for my dad, and he sat on the grass at the reception, with me sitting next to him, in my wedding dress, and he read cowboy poetry to everyone. oh, he has a way.

On August 10th, 2008, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

It’s nice that your post started something positive for you.

On August 10th, 2008, Kelly@SHE-POWER said:

I love family stories and think it’s kinda irrelevant whether they’re ‘true’ or not. History gets distorted in our mind over time anyway. Shaped by prejudices, lessons learned, and stuff we NEED to believe.

It is a wonderful thing though that you got a moment of open-ness from your father. Emotional honesty always makes us feel closer to someone, and any time we feel close to our parents is great, I think.

Kelly

On August 10th, 2008, Ferd said:

I am happy for you that he opened up. My own father speaks only about the few subjects he cares about, and is very poorly connected to the rest of the family. It is frustrating and sad to want more from him, but to know he is probably simply not capable.

I look forward to the rest of your stories!

Anyway, the reason I’m here today is to say that Deb, you are a winner!
Check The Best Parts to see what you have won!

On August 11th, 2008, matteroffactmommy said:

as you know, my dad lives with us for a week or so at a time here and there. now a man of 62 yrs, he is so different from the angry, alcoholic, hard working, handsome, strong, often mean father i remember as a kid. he’s introspective. he comments on my husband and the fact that he’s making “the same mistakes i made when you kids were young…” occasionally, he will even offer up a story about Viet Nam, or his f-ed up childhood and his 4 older siblings who hated him just for being there.
it’s times like these i will cherish forever. :)

On August 11th, 2008, foradifferentkindofgirl said:

I have a handful of stories of my parents committed to memory. How I wish I had more.

On August 11th, 2008, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

What a sweet victory.

On August 11th, 2008, Shelia said:

I’m so glad he called back and you two had the opportunity to talk.

Savor it for as long as you can. What a precious time, even with it’s painful stories, listening to your dad sounds like it was comforting.

On August 11th, 2008, ilinap said:

I have yet to hear a single story from my dad. I’m gonna live vicariously.

Now check this out. http://www.dirtandnoise.com/2008/08/i-feel-just-like-sally-field.html

On August 12th, 2008, mommypie said:

How awesome. You’ve inspired me. I’m sitting Bobo down this weekend and having a storytelling hour.

He still swears he did NOT tell us he was so poor as a kid he had to brush his teeth with butter. And that’s why they’re yellow.

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