True Story

A few days ago, a woman named Olive Riley passed away in NSW.  She was 108, almost 109, and was called the world’s oldest blogger by many.  She was a popular blogger and visited by people across the world as she shared her life’s story in short vignettes and told the day to day life of her current existence.  That’s what many bloggers do – share their lives through the medium of the internet, allowing us to connect with yet another person across time and distance.

Anyone beyond the age of five has at least one story.  Anyone at that age has a vast resource of life spent to draw upon and share, which we seldom recognize.  I can remember a woman from my church who I visited to use as a source her memories of the WPA when I was doing a history paper.  We sat together in her living room and I asked her questions, but our conversation went far beyond that as my eyes were arrested by different objects around the rooms.  I remember the copper watering cans she got on her trip to Germany and the stained glass windows she had created herself, this and every room packed with the remnants of a life well-lived, a life filled with hidden stories.

I think of my grandfather, and going through his things after he passed away.  I think of visiting him in a nursing home, listening to him tell the same stories over and over again, and how they must have circled just the same when we were not there to listen.  I wonder what other stories were lost to him and us as well as his memory faded.  I wonder what he could’ve told me about the wooden fan and small ceramic vase he left behind for me to claim.  I try to make an effort to ask my parents their stories – who did you love before you met each other?  How did you decide what to study in school?  What are your favorite memories of your own parents?  I want to claim as much as I can, while I can, to find the hidden secrets of my own life, couched in others.

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