The Stories Manifesto

It hit me today while I was washing my hair that I am missing out on a tremendous volume of stories. When I called my mom yesterday, a Sunday afternoon routine to stay in touch, I could hear conversation and laughter in the background. Turns out that my sister, my brother-in-law, and my nephew and his girlfriend were spending time with my parents the Sunday after my dad’s birthday. While I felt a touch of sadness while I was on the phone that I wasn’t there to spend that time with them, it really didn’t bother me until today. Distance can be a real drag.

I realized quite some time ago that there would be many things that I would miss by moving almost 800 miles away from my family. I think it’s a factor of getting older that you want to squeeze as much as you can into what you perceive as the time that you have left. The weekly telephone touch-base with my mom and my sister are not doing it for me the way it used to. I’ve relied on Facebook to keep in touch with my nephews so that I can feel a connection, although distant, to what’s going on in their lives. But there is something major lacking. “Liking” a post is in no way as gratifying as a heartfelt hug and speaking words instead of typing them onto a screen. And when your sister and parents aren’t Facebook “friends” it feels like the connection distance is magnified.

It’s evident to me that I am missing way too many stories. I’m missing the stories of what my nephews are doing with their lives because Facebook can only convey so much. I’m missing hearing the old stories of my dad when he was growing up and the wild things he and his buddies used to do. I’m missing the stories of my mom’s childhood and the wonderful and odd things she and her sisters used to do when they were young. Sure, I’ve heard many of those stories in the past, but I think perspective changes as you get older. There might be a little things in the stories, little nuances, that are important – things I may have missed the first time I heard them.

I’m not there for other family events, so it’s rare that I get to see uncles, aunts cousins, etc. thank goodness I saw many of them in June for my mom’s birthday party. Prior to that it had been years. Again, I miss hearing the stories of what’s going on in their lives. Tidbits on Facebook are good, but the reality is that I’ve lost touch with what makes everyone tick.

Maybe it’s just that I miss being surrounded by family sometimes.

Facebook is great. The telephone is wonderful. But nothing can take the place of being there in person to look into the eyes of the people you love and admire.

This is the beginning of my manifesto on Stories.

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Return from Hiatus

My nephew Mike, bless his soul, sent me a Twitter text and asked me where my blog posts have been. Thanks for nudging me, Mike!

I’ve been taking an unplanned hiatus from blogging, a little overwhelmed lately with some family and personal issues. I felt like I want to reach out to someone, to bounce ideas off someone, but I didn’t know who that “someone” was. Very frustrating. Plus I felt that whatever I might have said in a blog may have been something I shouldn’t have said. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. I used to be able to bounce ideas off a friend I had a while ago. But that friend turned out to be someone who had self-serving rules of what constitutes friendship, and after 10 years of being friends, I had to walk away. Chalk it up to the process of frustration elimination.

It’s been a very emotional year so far. One of my aunts has been diagnosed with lung cancer. One of my cousins (a few years younger than me) had a stroke, and while they don’t know what caused the stroke yet, they found a brain tumor. Another aunt (who I’ve always considered more of a cousin than an aunt because she’s the same age as me) was just diagnosed with COPD and asthma. Another cousin who is my age had bypass surgery several months ago. One of my younger cousins passed away suddenly earlier this year. I’d say they’re dropping like flies, but that sounds crude, so I won’t say it. And things haven’t been going all so well for Josh either. He’s been having his share of this bad year too.

There has been a convergence of not-so-wonderful things happening. It’s all very unnerving.

But on the brighter side …

Deb and Mike, my sister and brother-in-law, visited last month. Let me tell you, I’d been waiting 13 years to see them pull into the driveway, and when they did, I started crying – not bawling, but tears of happiness. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wanted to hold onto them and not let them go back home. It was great spending time with them, talking, going to the Renaissance Festival, catching up. Yes, we talk on the phone just about every Sunday, but it’s not the same as face-to-face time.

I want (need) to take a road trip to Chicago soon (although it probably won’t happen until after March) to see the family (including Ms. Mia Zatanna Knol) and to bring back some of the fabulous Chicago culinary experience. Just to name a few food items – authentic Chicago style hot dogs (including real hot dog relish in jars I can bring home), Italian beef, Don’s Dock fish chips, Tortorice’s pizza (my favorite), Green River, Pagliacci Giardiniera, and maybe some German potato salad from Kuhn’s Deli. Ahhhhh … can’t wait!

I have a take-away for you …

Don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t let the bad events of the past prevent you from finding your own happiness in the here and now or in the future. Hold onto those who love you and those whom you love, because you can never know just how long they will be in your life. Don’t take them for granted! Share your dreams, your life, with someone who “gets” you. It’s worth everything!