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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"To survive, you must tell stories." Umberto Eco


Hubby talks about the time he fished on Sophie's Island with his step-dad. I must have heard that story a few times early in our marriage, just before I met Wes, just after Wes died, and lately, quite often, and at odd times.  He knows I met Wes. He knows I know the relationship; yet, he keeps telling that story re-establishing the relationship his step-dad had with his mother; and the relationship Hubby himself had with his mother. He has Wes down pat; his mannerisms, catch phrases; short cuts; short temper. He talks about him at length, with occasional snippets of this and that involving his mother as well. Yet, she never becomes the subject of a full story.

I have met Mary, a stunningly tall and slender woman with green eyes and blond hair on our way to Washington to meet my husband's family with our new baby, and since  his mother still lived in Portland, on the way to our final destination, we stopped there for one night. In pictures taken when Hubby was a small boy, the two of them look so much alike that I had no trouble recognizing her. I kept wanting to ask her questions about so many things, but especially about the time she had left the family, when her two sons were six and four, respectively. How could she leave her babies, I kept thinking, noticing how soft and gentle she was around us; how generous she was with her time and resources.

Even years later, under more leisurely circumstances, I never did find out her story from her point of view, her experiences as a young mother left alone for weeks at a time as her husband followed jobs here and there. The last time I saw her she came to visit with a dog and a cat who were fussy and messy, if I remember correctly. We hardly spoke. She spent days by herself in an empty house while we were all at school or work,  and when we all gathered in the evening for supper, she left the table in a hurry, gathering her pets and retiring to the guest room. Children noticed nothing, of course.

I did coax a couple of recipes out of her, a chicken and dumplings and a beef stroganoff. And yes, there was a lot of chopping and talking during those cooking sessions.

Later, after she had left, and I made chicken and dumplings on my own, Hubby told me for the first time that he had always missed his mother's cooking. Chicken and dumplings is the requested dish on his birthday. And Beef stroganoff became my youngest son's favorite dish.

Today, my husband has begun to write his memoirs.
Mary's story may show up as a full length portrait really soon.

13 comments:

Patricia Edie said...

THIS story holds so much...spoken and unspoken, written and not-written. But it stays with me like wisps of a dandelion puff. I guess our memoirs are an attempt to pull it all together. Thank you!

rosaria williams said...

Ann Best
10:24 AM (1 hour ago)

to rosariainpo
Ann Best has left a new comment on your post ""To survive, you must tell stories." Umberto Eco":

Yes. We must write stories for our posterity, and for us to survive, as you say, and I agree. I'm finally doing my spiritual journey and not worrying about any audience except myself and close friends/family. Tell your husband I am cheering him on. His mother sounds like a fascinating person and he needs to do her story!!!

Anne Best

L. D. said...

I have gotten better as a story teller after my experiences the past years as a blogger.

yaya said...

One reason I'm blogging is to tell my story in the every day simple things of my life. I put it in book form so maybe someday my posterity will want a peek at how we lived and played and how much we love them. Everyone has a story. They do need to be told and sadly many pass on before they are recorded. I do hope your hubby gets his written and I think it's a wonderful thing to do...bravo to him!

Retired English Teacher said...

I agree. We must tell stories to survive. I love to tell stories. Maybe that is why I blog.

This story intrigues me. I do wonder what your husband will write about his mother. I wonder what her "story" would have been. She had to have had her reasons. Perhaps her story was one of survival also.

Rob-bear said...

Maybe I should be working this, too.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

The Broad said...

The sad truth is that many of us want to our stories, but are afraid -- of what I do not exactly know, unless it of the 'reckoning' that we will come face with in confronting our lives. Another wonderful and thought-provoking post, Rosaria...

Becky Jerdee said...

And when telling our stories over the years, don't they shift a little? I notice that my perspective changes as I mature...

LindyLou Mac said...

As always I enjoyed your post and your writing. Now looking forward to you publishing your husband's memoirs. :)

A Cuban In London said...

What a story! I wish your husband the best of luck with this memoir. It sounds as if it will be full of fascinating tales.

Greetings from London.

Lydia said...

Ah, his memoir will likely be like therapy for him to work on. This is a deep story and your interest will help him to dive. You have written the preface here already......

Diana Griffin said...

I love this quote. And I have missed your beautiful way of putting deep moments into words. I hope you are well sweet lady.

Amanda Summer said...

Humanity is one big story and we each have our own version. Ain't life grand?