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Old 11-24-2008, 12:38 PM   #1
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Share a Story for The National Day of Listening

NPR's StoryCorps series is designating this Friday, Nov. 28 as The National Day of Listening:

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.

So while we can't talk to each other online, we can still share our stories. What are some of your favorite stories, the ones you tell over and over again with family and friends?

My story is about my grandparents and a former coworker. My grandparents met and fell in love during the Great Depression. They wanted to get married but their parents were resistant, particularly my grandpa's dad who wanted him to save up $500 before getting married.
They decided to elope, thanks to my grandma's parish priest. The two were married in the rectory, accompanied by two friends, spent the day together and then my grandpa dropped my grandma off for the night. They continued seeing other, having dates, and didn't tell anyone they were married.
After a week or so, they decided to tell my grandma's parents that they were going to go to Arizona to elope (that's where people went before Vegas). My great-grandparents were against it because the trip required an overnight stay. Finally, my grandparents had to come clean and say they were already married.
They were together for 55 years.
I told this story to a coworker who's family didn't want her to marry her boyfriend because he's a Syrian Muslim and she's a Mexican Catholic. The story got her wheels spinning and the two of them eloped at a local mosque. They were married for months and told very few people.
She credits me for the idea. They've now been married for seven years and both families have fully accepted the relationship.

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Old 11-24-2008, 06:58 PM   #2
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Great idea for a new thread! Nice story you shared also.

My mother is aging and asked me to visit again last week to take care of some things. While there we had several talks, among them reviewing her Will & Living Trust, her Power of Attorney forms, going over her last wishes, etc. She became pretty reminiscent telling me stories of her parents, her growing up having been an ARMY Brat living all over the world, how she met and married my father and again the story the night my father had a seizure in 1993 that was a blood clot in his brain leading to his coma and our disconnecting his life support. This was the hardest thing my mother ever had to do in her life. I just let her talk. Then she shared with me a visit she claims to have had from my father a year ago, the night before my mom's mastectomy. My mother was so nervous and feelings of anger toward my father for having abandoned her years before and not being there to help her through this medical crisis even though my sister and I were both by mom's side. Mom claims my father appeared clear as day in their bedroom, at the side of the bed and spoke to her so clearly. He was dressed in the blue suit she always loved in a dress shirt and even a tie. She said he was so handsome and she just lay there listening as he said he only had a moment but wanted her to know that he was OK and that she would be OK, that he wasn't angry with our decision letting him go. He told her he was sorry for anything he ever said or did to hurt her and that he'd always be around but it was finally time for him to go. She started to cry, then felt an indentation on her bed like he sat down beside her, and a hand on her shoulder, then he was gone. She swears it was real and not a dream. Best of all she claims she was finally able to let my father go after all those years. She will never forget him, but that visit helped her get through her surgery and recovery. A year later my mother remains cancer free. I often wonder if Mom hadn't had that vision, visit, whatever it really was, how different her outcome would have been? I miss my father but I'm thankful I still have my Mom.

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Old 11-24-2008, 09:43 PM   #3
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^ ^ Thank you for posting the National Day of Listening information. I wish we still had our elders here to talk to!

And Karen, I believe your father visited your mother. Give your mom lots of hugs while you still have her.

My early life was spent on a farm in a valley in rural central Virginia. The family farm house was built in the 1800s and was very well kept; but it never had water, plumbing, or central heating installed--there was a well in the front yard (with a pulley with a bucket at each end of the rope), wood-burning stoves in each room and a big wood-burning range in the kitchen, and an outhouse down the hill behind the house. Sounds like right out of "The Waltons", doesn't it? (As a matter of fact, the author of "The Waltons", Earl Hamner, and his whole family lived about 30 miles from our home place; and my mom and her siblings went to school with him and his siblings.)

The reason I mention this is that all but one of Mom's brothers, and her sister, are gone now. Our uncle who lived in the house passed away in 1990 without a will, and the house and most of the land was sold out of the family. Most of the older residents of that valley were descendents of Scots-Irish settlers and to this day still pronounce the "ou" sound in the Scottish way. My siblings and cousins and I have started collecting things that we heard our parents say when we were kids, as well as remembrances of times spent there when we were young. I hope my cousin will record her mother speaking, because when that generation has all gone, so will that lovely accent be gone, as well.
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:17 PM   #4
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Thanks MsPurrl.
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:56 PM   #5
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Ohh, I'll share!

The Ohio river flooded badly in the winter of 1937. My grandmother was 10 years old. Our city, which is right on the river (and near the tail end of it), ended up half under water before it was over. In my grandmother's house, there was a hole in the kitchen floor where the old ice box (which used a real chunk of ice to keep the food cold) had drained under the house. They were able to look through the hole and see when the water got under the house. Then they knew they had to leave.
The family, which included my great grandparents, my great uncle James (who was older than my grandmother, and my grandmother, left the house to head, along with their neighbours, to the juniour high, which was on high ground. They took their cat with them, though they left their goldfish, in his bowl, on the mantle.
They stayed overnight (or maybe for a couple of days?) at the school. The men went to a nearby store and brought back food for everyone. The national guard brought a bunch of ice cream from the dairy for the children to share. They hung the ice cream out the window to keep it frozen (it was winter.)
Soon though, it was time to evacuate further. Leaving the cat at the school (where it was sure to stay fed on mice), my grandmother and her family left along with everyone else, to go to the southern edge of the town (the river was to the north), where everyone was loaded into buses and taken to a train station in a county south of us. Then my grandmother's family took a train down to Tennessee to stay with family for about a month, sleeping on the floor.
When they were finally able to come back home, they were surprised to find that the goldfish they'd left on the mantle was alive and well. Presumably, the fish had fed on flies or other insects that happened to wander into its bowl.

Also interesting, I knew that my great grandfather (my grandmother's father) had run away from home and lied about his age (he was 16) in order to join up with the army for World War I, but I found out today that they stationed him to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, because he was dark complected and looked kinda Mexican (he was French Creole.) So that's cool
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