Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Love the Stories!

This evening I was at my old church, Faith-Westwood, to help the kids at their fund-raiser Valentine's Dinner. I just had to play the piano for a few songs, so it was an easy gig and a great chance for me to say hello to friends.

What I didn't know when I said 'yes' to doing this was that it would turn out to be one of the most fascinating evenings I have had in a long time.

As much as I love to tell my stories, I love to hear others tell their stories. I could sit for hours and listen to an articulate and passionate speaker tell his or her history. I didn't get enough time tonight to listen to all that I wanted to hear.

As people began to gather for dinner, I set my stuff down beside a very good friend, expecting to enjoy her company for the evening, not knowing who else would fill out the table. I moved around the room, hugging and greeting friends and then returned to the table to find that another couple had joined us. I knew these people just as acquaintances while at Faith-Westwood, never having an opportunity to discover more about them. As the evening progressed, I discovered a couple that had lived an interesting life and one that they were thrilled to have been able to live.

Vada beamed the entire time that she was telling me things that had happened in her life and her husband was in his element as he described his life in the military and then as a civilian. When I asked him where his most interesting post had been, he told me that he had spent quite a few years in Air Force intelligence during the Viet Nam war. He left the Pentagon to go to Viet Nam and upon returning ended up back at the Pentagon until he retired (not too much later, he was done with that job).

She was part of the Singing Sergeants and got to have tea with Mamie Eisenhower. She met many foreign dignitaries as they came into Washington, DC and always found her life filled with fascinating people.

They lived in Japan and Hawaii, after retiring from the military, he began teaching kids with learning disabilities in Florida. They both grew up in Nebraska and after moving back from other locations several different times in their lives have finally settled here to be close to a son and their grandkids.

I got a little choked up as I listened to them talk about their lives. Here are stories that I might never have known, but this evening I was given a chance to sit back and listen as they talked. He talked about working as a projectionist in a movie theater in Colorado when the Korean War started. He wanted to join up, but his boss wasn't thrilled with both he and his buddy leaving him in a lurch, so he coerced them to wait to sign up until they had someone trained to take their places. They looked for the oldest men available to work the projectors so that this wouldn't happen again. But, the only problem was, it took the old guys 3 months to learn the craft. He could hardly stand waiting that long to get involved!

One of the things that I realize I had lost with my Grandfather McFarlane (Mac) was his stories. He was an amazingly brilliant and creative man, but to me, he was an old man who was terribly needy. I was too busy to realize how cool his stories would have been. I missed it all and today, that just breaks my heart.

People are so much more interesting than I am. I am thankful that I have a curious mind that looks for their stories. They love telling those stories and a new listener is always welcome. I was reminded tonight that encouraging the story is so important. This is what makes life fun. I can't wait to see who I will meet next!

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