I’ve reached the age where I have to read every obituary that’s posted on Facebook. I can’t resist the temptation. And every time I read about the person’s life, I wonder how many stories he or she took to the grave. My father was a great storyteller. His stories enraptured me most of my childhood the same way they enchanted my own children. Most of us would never think our own stories are that fascinating because our lives are ordinary. For some reason, my dad never felt that way. When he died, I wondered how many stories he took with him.
My favorite of Dad’s stories were the ones about his horses. I loved to hear how, when he was very small, his dad put him on a quarter horse that he was breaking. The horse pitched a little when she broke into a gallop and threw Dad to the ground, breaking his arm and spraining his ankle. My grandmother didn’t let my dad on that horse again for a couple of years. Despite a rough start with that horse, Beauty became my dad’s favorite. As he would tell me about her, he’d grin and his eyes would sparkle as he looked beyond me to his memory of jumping Beauty over fallen trees in the pasture or of how he never lost a race with her. Through these stories, Dad showed me what an honor it was to gain a horse’s trust and to be able to trust her just the same. When I experienced the same honor with my own horse decades later, I appreciated the miracle of it more because of Dad’s stories. Through his stories, I got to know relatives that I never met and see another side of my precious grandparents. He told his stories not so he would be remembered, but so that those who were no longer living would not be forgotten. It was his responsibility to pass on their legacy.
Now it is mine.
Dad’s stories weren’t unique or incredible. They were just of a boy who was born during the Depression, survived the Dustbowl in the 1930s, and loved baseball and horses. His stories taught me not only about his own experiences, but also about who I am. We need to tell our stories to our children, even if we think that they aren’t that special.
If you are blessed to still have your grandparents, ask them to tell their stories about their childhood, their marriage, what your parents were like when they were small. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask your parents about what their lives were like before you were a part of their story. They may say that their stories are not that fascinating and probably not worth listening to, but I promise you, they will be honored to share their history with you, and you will be so glad that you’d asked.
I challenge you to tell your story to your children. Tell them what it was like when you were small, what their aunts and uncles were like as you were growing up together. Tell them about how you and your spouse met and what it was like when you discovered that they were on the way. Tell them what they were like when they were babies and how proud you still are when you look at them. Don’t be afraid to share your story.
I can almost hear my dad’s laughter when I remember him. It’s what I miss the most about him. I know that he would be proud to know that his stories live on. Someday, I hope that my grandchildren will be telling my dad’s stories to their own children. And maybe they’ll have a few stories about me to tell as well.
Lisa R. Perron
I have a heart for adoption. Three of my five children are adopted. Because of that, our family looks different than most. In this blog, I want to give you a glimpse of my God-sized, God-designed family and share all of the lessons I've learned along the way.