Gathering all the inner strength I could find, I took the the streets of our little town. It was a foggy night with less than an hour before all the stores would be closed. Armed with what tangible pieces I had been able to create for the “Grandma, Tell Me Your Story” kit, I took the plunge.
First stop—the neighborhood used bookstore where I know the owners. The time she took and the input she gave was amazing. So helpful. I thought that I had considered every possible angle on this thing. Wrong. OK, so something to think about and rework. Not a big problem, but figure she may have saved me a lot of dollars just by giving her input. She offered to introduce me to the shop owner next door, but, (to my relief), her store was closed. Too bad;-).
Next step—By now most of the stores in town are closed. But . . . there’s one store that’s still open. Looks like an interesting store. One customer. Should I do it? Oh Lord, give me strength to conquer these fears. This store owner looks friendly enough, but so did Two-Face Harvey Dent in Batman. “Get over it!” I reprimand myself. OK. Here goes . . .
I walked right up to the front desk. The store owner was finishing up some paperwork. Told him I was scared to death to bring this project to him and that he was the first stranger that I’ve shown it to. (Didn’t your mom teach you not to talk to strangers?)
He told me there’s nothing to be afraid of. He showed a great deal of interest as he took a good 30 minutes going through the kit. It brought many memories to mind for him. What began as a petrifying experience, quickly melted into a delightful conversation centering around the whole “Tell Me Your Story Grandpa” book and his childhood memories with his grandpa, letters, telephone calls. When I left, there was no doubt in my mind that his day became just a little bit brighter as he travelled through some of his past memories. Not all of them were happy, of course, but they were part of his story.
By now all the stores were closed. Whew! I conquered my fears, talked with a complete stranger (sorry, Mom, but it comes with the territory), and felt a whole lot lighter knowing that this project brought goodness and joy into this man’s life.
I had no idea that such an amazing, brilliant, accomplished person would reside right here in my small town. My feet barely touched the ground as the thoughts collided in my mind as I began to wonder about the stories of the other shop owners here. I bet this town is full of incredible stories from people. But, how do we discover them?
One thing I am certain of, if I am to uncover the stories of others, I cannot hide behind the computer in my safe zone. At home, research took on an entirely new dimension . . .
Yes. This is it! Provide an outlet for people to share their stories. Back at home in my office, on the computer in my safe zone researching for inspiration, I discovered Story Corps. They have 44.7k followers. Their mission: . . . to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just & compassionate world.” Score!
The vision birthed in my heart that night began to take shape. My passion is both the oral and the written word. Why the written word? God chose to speak to us through His Written Word. There’s some sort of deep pleasure I get looking through my grandmother’s cookbooks with her handwritten recipes and notes. She only had an 8th grade education. She never even learned to print. Her handwriting is special—quite large, actually, with lots of swirls.
Then there’s George Washington’s “Rules of Civility” that he wrote when he was just 16 (if memory serves me correctly—don’t count on it though). His cursive is pure art. Or, what about Noah Webster who taught himself something like 17 languages so he could write his 1828 dictionary? Oh yes, I have a thing about words, about stories, and about the handwriting of a loved—or respected—individual.
Which is more endearing to you—the written word or the spoken word?
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