Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family Storytellers

Yesterday I wrote urging all who read this to get those family stories written. Have them in black and white for future generations to read and learn about the family history, the characters who were part of the family. It brought to mind some storytellers in my own family.

My Aunt Vivienne couldn't reach the five foot mark if she streteched on tiptoe. She was about four feet ten but a bundle of energy. She had dark eyes that snapped with liveliness, and she was always running somewhere. Never one to take life slowly, she moved the energy level up a notch or two wherever she went. After she'd come for a visit, my mother would often remark that having Vivienne drop by was like a tornado whirling through the house.

But Aunt Vee, as she was sometimes called, told great stories. My dad was her younger brother, and we always begged for a story about Junior, as he was called in his childhood days. Many years later, I learned that the Junior stories were entertaining but not always completely true. Oh, there was an element of truth in them, but Aunt Vivienne had a way of embellishing a story to make it far more exciting than it really was. We kids all loved her for it.

My dad often told us stories about his mother and father, both of whom had passed away before my brothers and I were born. We never knew our grandparents other than through those stories Dad told. About the special little piecrust leftovers his mother always made, sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on them before baking. About how our grandfather was one of the first auto mechanics in the Chicago area. About the summer cottage they bult so the family could get out of the hot Chicago summers. About the day his dad died in his arms, victim of a heart attack while washing the family car in the driveway. Dad was only 14 at the time, and every time he told the story, it hurt me deeply to know what he'd gone through in losing his father.

My mother was also a great storyteller, but her stories invovled her growing up years in a small Iowa coal mining town, coming to Chicago at age 11 and learning the ways of life in a city, so different from her happy existance in Iowa. We learned so much about her dad's life as a coal miner, her mother's bakery in Chicago which she started to support my mother and herself during Depression years. So many stories told again and again at out dinner table while my parents had coffee.

Think about some of the storytellers in your own family. Do you remember some of the stories?
Tell them to your own kids and grandkids, write them down to be saved forever. Be the family storyteller.

No comments:

Post a Comment