I am a connoisseur of stories. I read a bit, watch a bit, and listen to people chat more than a bit. That is why customer service agrees with me. There is always someone to acquire stories from and, in those rare moments, a time to share one.
As I was listening to the radio, they told of a woman that lost a major father figure in her life some years ago. People handle grief in different ways. In this case, the woman chose to send text messages. Using the number that belonged to her loved one, she would send updates, feelings, and complaints.
On the four-year anniversary, she sent a lengthy message. She described life after high school. She went on about falling in love and having her heart broken. She wrote about missing this father-figure and where life was at.
For all the messages she had sent over the years, she never received a reply. The notes went out into the airwaves. Silence was all that came back. Until that four-year missive was sent.
The text messages had all been received by a man. A man, who as it turned out, had lost his daughter four years ago. He had taken great comfort in hearing from this woman who had started out as a stranger. In the one-sided conversations, he had found humor, hope, and a reason for living after losing his child to a car accident.
So he wrote back. He told her about himself, told her he had been keeping up with her, and told her he was proud of her. They had never met, but her notes had meant the world to him. He hoped the best for her, cheered her on, and found a sense of love.
I was moved by that story. It stuck with me. There is no point to collecting stories if I do not share them.
I do not tell stories simply to tell them. I enjoy performing and having attention when I am sharing a narrative, but so do billions of other people. For me to take up five minutes of a person’s time, I need some sort of prompting. A gut instinct, a nudge, God’s leading; call it whatever you like. Every time it becomes a little clearer when I am to shut up and when I am to share.
There is a security guard that I know just well enough. He has let me tell him stories before. We both have Christian backgrounds, we both like Paul Harvey’s, “Rest of the Story”, broadcasts; he is receptive to my sharing.
That is why it was not surprising that he responded well to my recounting. What I did not expect was how personally he would take it. He and his daughter’s mother are not together. He intimated that there had been some bad-mouthing about him from the mother to the daughter. Whatever the situation, he had recently been connecting with his daughter over text messages.
The man does not believe in coincidences. The story resonated deeply with him. This man, who is paid to be calm and collected in trying times, was visibly stirred. He was shaken, if not misty-eyed. Father’s Day is not really a once a year occurrence.
I want to share stories. When stories really hit home? When I get to feel like I had some small part in keeping a story going? That does a lot for my sense of self.
The best stories do not every really die. The cream rises to the top and floats there. We need reminders every now and then, but the best stories are never really forgotten. There are new stories joining those ranks every day. I try to keep my ears open. I read as much as my eyes can take. I absorb as many tales as I can. When I feel prompted, I send them back out and hope they find one more home.