Monday, October 28, 2013

Louella (The Woman I Am)

The second Louella walks into our room, you can feel the room deepen in peace and thoughtfulness. She has attended our group for months now. She never speaks too much, or too loudly, but when she picks up that pen, the woman she is inside comes boldly alive. I remember how moved I was when Louella read these sentences out loud. It is such a privilege to hear her speak - so gentle in volume yet so loud in power.
Louella Coplon
The Woman I Am

The woman I am hides deep in me beneath the woman I seem to be.

She hides away from strangers and those who know her to be passing by.

She goes her way.  And they go their way.

For those who love me dearly, look beneath the woman I seem to be and see only me!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Joan (Stuttering)

Not all of us have speech impediments but all of us have struggles of some sort, things we can't quite do, at least not yet. No matter what our particular struggle is, I feel like Joan's story applies to all of us. No matter how impossible it may seem when we are going through it, if we keep trying, we can really overcome anything we put our mind to. I really believe that.

This story is amazing as is, in its tidy typed up form here on this blog. But you know what is even more amazing? If you can all travel with me back to moment when the story was first told. Imagine sitting at the table at our storytelling class, and hearing Joan read it out loud. Watch her eyes travel down to her freshly handwritten page and up to meet the eyes of her peers, and our volunteers and visitors around the table. Imagine her voice, strong and stutter-free, filling the entire room. And now imagine that very voice echoing between the lines of the typed text below.

Joan Bunting

When I was a child, I stuttered very bad.  I heard later when I was older that it could have been caused by my sisters and my older brother scaring me a lot.  I don’t know how true that is, but could there be some truth in it?

When I was older and attending elementary school, the teacher would call individuals to read.  What I would do is when someone else was reading, I would hold my breath so that if I was next, I would be able to start reading without stuttering.

There was a girl in my class named Barbara.  I used to feel so sorry for her because she stuttered much worse than me.  In Junior High School there was a boy in my class that stuttered terribly and the children would laugh at him.  I’d feel sorry for him too.  By the time I became a teenager, most of the stuttering had stopped.  The only time I stuttered was when I got very excited or angry.

The people that never experienced stuttering don’t realize what a struggle it is.

Well, I don’t stutter anymore, but I’ll tell you a person that used to stutter, you can hardly shut them up, I know.  People think I’m quiet, but don’t start me talking.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Millie (My Sister) and Norman (My Father)

It’s easy to take family for granted… until stories like these come along to remind us to stop in our busy lives to notice our loved ones with fresh eyes. Here’s Millie sharing about her sister, and Norman sharing about his father. Two stories shaped entirely out of love. Consider sharing this blog post with a family member today, as a way to tell them you appreciate them!

Millie Lilly
My Sister Gloria

My sister Gloria is the person I am close to in my family. Three weeks ago she was operated on for breast cancer. The doctors said afterwards that they were concerned it went to her lymph nodes. We had to wait a week to find out. Her lymph nodes were clear but they had not gotten all the cancer. She was operated on again this morning. Her husband said that she was doing well in recovery. She should be home by now.

One thing I have found out is people want to tell you about their own experiences or of their Mother, friends, or sister. I don’t find it helpful to hear about other people’s experiences right now. I don’t want to be asked how she is doing. I will write about it.

Gloria kept our family together since my mother was killed at 11 a.m. in the morning when a 19-year old fell asleep at the wheel of his family’s business van. The day was sunny and the road straight. My parents had picked the safest route from my brother’s house in South Carolina to where they had moved in North Carolina.
I still miss my mother. I hope to have my sister for a while longer.

Norman Cain
Baseball, My Father and Action Speaks Louder than Words

My father was a quiet reserved man who never missed a days work. Before we awoke in the morning he would be at his job. He was a custodian at 30th Street Station. He would return in the evening, eat and immediately go to bed. While there was definitely love between us there was little interaction.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words. There were two small events that occurred between myself and my father that I will forever contain within my mind.

The first event occurred when I was around twelve. My father came home with two baseball gloves and took me to a nearby lot where we engaged in an extended lively game of catch. I never knew my father could play baseball. He was good. Each time the ball thudded against our glove it echoed love.

The second action between my father and I that spoke louder than words also had to do with baseball. This event took place when I was around 14 years old. One day we were both practicing with our respective teams at Belmont Plateau in Fairmont Park. I was with a youth baseball team and he played for a Penna Railroad  Team.

We did not know that our practices were at the same time. When we noticed each other we left our teams, walked towards one another and shook hands without uttering a word. Two events involving baseball between us spoke a multitude of words.

So actions do speak louder than words, especially when love is involved.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gogo (The Best Thing I Have Learned in My Life)

Once in a while don't you just feel like a big, bold, life-affirming 
story that sweeps you off your feet?

It would be cool if the tens and thousands of you reading could
 squeeze shoulder to shoulder around our physical table to hear our
 seniors tell their stories every week, but that's not half as cool as 
the fact that we are virtually doing that here. This blog is the most
 massive and inclusive table ever, where there is always room for one 

And so, with us all huddled together, I present to you this story by Gogo. It's one of those stories that I feel can touch us all and unite
 us as humans no matter how different our day-to-day lives are.

out loud. Living life to the absolute fullest. Yup, that's our Gogo.
 You feel it, right? The massive good vibes that she is spreading all 
around our table?

Gogo Jenny Williams
The Best Thing I Have Learned in My Life

It took many years and it seemed that I kept butting my head against hardened walls. I learned that you can begin again; you can forgive, turn around, pick up the pieces, and learn from your mistakes.

Bad decisions – I’ve made a few. Missed opportunities – yes, I’ve missed a few. Trusted the untrustworthy – yes I did. Experiencing encounters the 3rd and 4th kind made me a better human being – the so-called failures became stepping stones to my success, the backbone that enabled me to stand up and face life, not hide in a corner when it seemed that my world crumbled.

What a chain breaker. What a feeling of empowerment.

The process may be quite fragile. It might be missing people and components that were so very important to your life. But if you are still breathing, you can begin again.