Monday, November 11, 2019

The Story of the Stories

by Jody Feldman

Looking back, I can say that my grandfather was a storyteller. I didn't see him that way, though. He didn't make up stories or play to formal audiences, but he always wanted to tell the true tales of his childhood. And I wanted to hear them. Whenever he'd start telling his peach pie story or the one about the bananas, though, the adults and my older cousins would groan. "We've heard that, Dad," my aunt would say. Except I hadn't heard it.

My aunt may not have wanted yet another replay then, but thankfully, she understood the value of his stories. So one day she and my dad sat down with my grandfather and with a woman trained in interviewing older adults. I didn't know the cassette tapes existed until five years ago, after my dad had passed away. 

There, in my grandfather's voice, was the peach pie story and the banana story. Even more, there was the hay cart story and the record album story and his immigration story, plus the story of his father's less-than-orthodox immigration. 

The 90 minutes of stories, though, were not enough. I had so many questions. So many. Sadly, there was no one left who could give me answers. If only I'd thought to ask.

Yes, I'm privileged to have those tapes, a bounty of very colorful family history. But how I wished I'd spoken up. "Tell me a story. Tell me all the stories."

And so I urge you. Find the stories.  Ask the questions. Today.

P.S. I drafted a novel that includes many of his stories. I'm undecided whether I'll share this with the world or just with younger generations.


4 comments:

  1. Best reminder here: RECORD THESE STORIES! It's too late for me now to record the family stories I'd most like to have saved, but how I wish I had....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you can remember some and record/write them yourself.

      Delete
  2. Oooh, what a treasure! To hear his own voice!

    ReplyDelete