There was no place I'd have rather been, sitting at the dining table with two old gents, one seventy, the other sixty-five. I was certain of that going in.
Conversation started simple enough: jokes from the one who showed up to our beans and cornbread with his overalls on; the other explaining with vim the difference between a bowl of beans and soup.
But it really became so, that I'd not trade my spot to anybody, when talk took a turn. When their memories sparked at one word, maybe two, and the past was revived. Right there in front of me, the stories lived.
They were stories from forty and fifty years ago, somehow relevant -- if only because recollection stirred -- as we sat together. I heard about days when these men were just past boyhood, working like horses, starting families. When their lives were touched by good people or bad crime. When they had fears and worries, or knew they would be okay. I heard about the days they lived, before life now.
As my belly filled with the old-timey meal, my ears listened. My heart engaged. And my writer's soul, too, was fed. I took in times gone by, the human condition as it spanned decades, insignificant little details that work together to create important history.
They are stories that will live on, because I've tucked them away. Because I'm a writer, yes, and some of this stuff may end up in my fiction someday. They are stories to tell. But, too, I've tucked them away because they came from my family, and they are my history.
They've become, in a way, my stories to tell.
This post is dedicated to my dad and uncle Bob, these two old gents. Life-livers and storytellers, they are. Love you both.
And thanks, too, to my mom for the old-timey meal...