Saturday, November 26, 2011

Story Telling Runs In The Family

Guest blog by Rena Nickerson:

" Would you like to write on my blog while I'm on my honeymoon?" my son, Michael, asked.
"Ah-----------I'm not sure. What the heck is a blog, anyway? What do you write on this blog thing of yours?"
"I write about writing."
I laughed. Did he expect me to write about writing? For what  little I know about writing, he may as well have asked me if I wanted to perform brain surgery.

I considered my great grandmother, Cora, a writer, despite her inability to read and write. Why would I think of an illiterate woman as being a writer?

She was a woman with a great imagination, a way with words and an inborn talent for story telling.
Five acres housed four generations of my father’s family. My great grandmother, whom I called Big Grammie, lived in a two room, tarred paper shack, just beyond the apple orchard. I, a child of few years, was allowed to freely wander. Nearly everyday I followed the path to Big Grammie’s house.

No matter the weather, Big Grammie sat in her rocking chair in front of her wood burning cook stove.Her stockinged feet rested on the open oven door, while a haze of smoke, from her corncob pipe, circled her head.

I sat across from the oven door on a three legged, rickety, milking stool with a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies precariously balanced in my lap. I was there partly for the cookies, but mainly for her stories.
She didn't have a new story for me everyday, but there were plenty of my old favorites to choose from.
"Big Grammie? Can you tell me that one, again, about when you heard the voice growling in the sink spout?"
"Oh, child. I done told that story so many times already."
Technically true. But with each re-telling there were subtractions and new additions, making the story all fresh and new.

More often than not I would have a story of my own to tell. "Big Grammie, guess what? I made up another story all by myself! Do ya wanna hear my story, Big Grammie?"
She'd grin. She always wanted to hear my stories. "Sure do, child. Sure do."
Sometimes we made stories together. She would begin by saying, "You know, child, I been thinking. What if-------."
Ah, the what if game. My favorite way to pass an afternoon. Big Grammie and I sitting across from each other, me munching cookies and she puffing her pipe. We'd laugh as we let our imaginations soar, making a new story.

My family often said of me, "You can't believe anything, Rena, tells you."
Maybe so. I learned from a master story teller that if the truth is boring then fix it. The truth is always more interesting with a bit of embellishhment.
It seems to me that any intelligent person can learn to write well, but story telling is an inborn talent, that can't be taught.


Kathi said...

Wonderful guest blog! I love the tale and I particularly love this line, "I learned from a master story teller that if the truth is boring then fix it. " LOL Good job!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mom, you done your son proud. Love it.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I love guest blogs! What a wonderful story! Hope you come back again soon.

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

What a delightful tale, Rena! Good job.

Michael better watch out upon his return :)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post, even though I'm not quite sure I agree with the last statement. It made me think, at least, and inspired me to comment on it in my own blog post, which, if you're interested, you can read here:

MT Nickerson said...

Ah- the fickle fans are turning on me... :)