Stories keep life interesting | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
June 22, 2012 · Updated 2:15 PM
I gravitate to people. My husband, children and many of our friends can be counted as some of the most fun. During summers, our schedules have increased flexibility and when the kids make their way home we take full advantage of the long and warmer days. We often sit around a fire ring in the backyard and it is outside, away from technology, that the banter makes me laugh, brings energy to our family gatherings and fills our evenings with happy sound.
They did not get their amazing humor from me. I’m the worst possible joke teller if there is an audience. I get nervous and usually flub the punch line or forget it altogether. Thankfully, I’ve been gifted with really funny young adult kids and friends, so I tolerate my own shortcomings in the humor department.
However, it’s not as much their joke telling as their stories that keep me in stitches or deeply moved. When I long to hear a story I pass around the ingredients for s’mores and set the bait in this way: “It’s so good to have you all here. Anybody have a great story to tell?”
It works every time. These days I hear about third-graders at Queen Anne Elementary, hair salon stories, college shenanigans and environmental work for the Navy. These worlds are all filled with people who live fascinating lives of their own. These worlds have their own language, their own issues, their own dramas and always their own humorous anecdotes.
There is joy in sharing a moment that fills your heart all over again each time you tell it. Or makes you laugh. Or connects you with a perfect stranger. Or honors someone you know and appreciate. As author Dave Isay says in his book “Listening is an Act of Love,” “Telling stories shakes us out of a reality TV-induced slumber and redirects our energy toward careful listening, honoring our elders and embracing our neighbors.”
When my dad was alive he especially enjoyed spending time with my son Dan. Over the years they would play games, read and work on projects. One time, they went out to the garage and built a tiny putter from wood. To this day Dan carries that putter in his set of clubs.
Dad would compliment Dan through the years by saying, “Dan, you’re a gentleman and a scholar.” This was only spoken to Dan and he looks back on those moments with great tenderness, especially when he misses being with his granddad.
Recently, Dan ran into a local store to grab a cold drink and approached an older woman doing her shopping seated in a scooter and attempting to reach an item on an upper shelf.
“Can I give you a hand?” Dan asked. She took him up on his offer and pointed out the item. As he set the jar in her basket she looked up and offered her appreciation with these words: “Thank you, young man. You’re a gentleman and a scholar.”
Tell your stories. There is laughter and beauty in this life and it’s meant to be shared.