Posts Tagged family

Loss of Stories

Everyone has a story. Do you ever look at a person and wonder about his personal history? What experiences shaped this individual?

I am endlessly fascinated with personal stories, those based in reality. I’ve never been interested in fantasy or science-fiction genres. I’m quite narrow in my genre selection and prefer things that are true to life. Perhaps that’s an effect of my unimaginative ruler tendencies.

It may also be why I love StoryCorps on NPR. The audio broadcasts of just a few minutes tell stories of ordinary people interviewing each other. The tales always seem to evoke an emotional response in me from tears to awe. I realize that the broadcasts are edited versions of longer conversations, but it’s some amazing storytelling!

Ms. HalfEmpty with relative

Ms. HalfEmpty at her wedding reception in 2009 with Ms. WhiteHouse (1918-2013)

Lately, we’ve had a few deaths in the family. One was a local relative who had some hilarious stories about her professional life in the White House. I’ve heard a few at family gatherings over the years, but I wanted to learn more. My plan was to interview Ms. WhiteHouse and write an article, but she preferred to remain private and declined.

Now Ms. WhiteHouse is gone along with her stories. The loss of stories is sad, but it’s also important to respect people’s wishes for their lives and stories.

Mr. HalfFull is a great storyteller and gregarious human who puts others at ease to tell their stories. Before his mom died, they discussed her life over wine. In vino veritas! (Perhaps I’ll have to use that interview technique someday, Mr. HalfFull.) Mr. HalfFull was able to learn about how she met her husband in her own words.

But he knows less about his dad’s perspective from those early years. In fact, he just learned that his dad’s football career at Dartmouth ended due to injury after listening to his sister’s podcast. It’s interesting how different siblings have various pieces of the story.

Perhaps you’ve grown tired of that one relative retelling the same life story each time you meet. But that repetition may help the story live on with you. Not everyone is a great storyteller; sometimes it can be tiresome to sit through the extraneous details and tangents. If only we all had StoryCorps editors to weave it into a concise, moving tale!

As people pass away, stories are lost forever. Perhaps we need to spend some time asking questions and listening while we can.

  • Are you interested in personal stories?
  • What’s your preferred genre for pleasure reading?
  • Do you listen to StoryCorps? Do you have a favorite episode?
  • How much do you know about your parents as young adults?
  • Is there someone you know whose story should be preserved?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Engagement, Wedding, Anniversary, and Happily Ever After

Last week was Obama’s 20th wedding anniversary, and this week is my 3rd.  Mr. HalfFull and I celebrated last night with dinner at the restaurant where we celebrated our engagement in 2008.

Tidal Basin

Ms. HalfEmpty and Mr. HalfFull at the Cherry Blossom Festival on the evening of their engagement. Does Mr. HalfFull look nervous?  He’s about to propose!

Our actual engagement occurred the night before while watching the fireworks at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC.  Mr. HalfFull told me that he didn’t want to make a dinner reservation because he was sure that would be dead giveaway.  Instead, he opted for a brunch reservation the next morning.

I was led to believe that this brunch would be just for the two of us to revel in our engaged bliss.  So I suggested that we stop at my parents’ house on the way to show them my ring.  Mr. HalfFull, who usually loves to visit my parents, kept throwing out reasons why the timing wouldn’t work.  It seemed strange, but I went with it.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I saw a car that looked just like my dad’s parked out front.  Mr. HalfFull assured me that lots of people had Lincoln Town Cars, but I was pretty sure it was my father’s license plate.

Once we entered the restaurant, I saw a big round table with my parents, brothers, Mr. HalfFull’s sister from Pennsylvania, and her son.  Everyone was in on the plan, except me!

Engagement Brunch

Surprise brunch with our families the morning after our engagement

But I was right about one thing:  it was my dad’s Lincoln Town Car!  I guess Mr. HalfFull didn’t specify that they should park around the corner, or at least not in the most prominent spot.  Way to be secretive, Dad!

Isn’t it interesting how proposals are all about half-truths, lies, and secrets?  That’s how a brilliant, surprising proposal is crafted.  But those behaviors spell disaster for a marriage!

Fortunately, we got some better marriage advice over the summer when we visited my aunt and uncle in North Carolina on our drive home from the beach.  We were lucky enough to join them for dinner along with another couple; the dinner conversation was delightful.

Aunt & Uncle

My aunt and uncle spontaneously started dancing during dinner on my wedding day.  Must be love!

During dinner, each couple explained how they met and started dating.  My aunt didn’t seem to be very interested in my uncle when they first met, but he made sure to tell us about her “cute butt.”  He reiterated that comment several times to our amusement and embarrassment.

The other couple met in high school where they both played violin in the orchestra.  He was a 17-year-old 1st chair violinist, while she was only 14.  When she accidentally knocked over the bridge on her violin, the teacher instructed him to help her fix it.  She was so enamored with him after the first fix, that she decided to purposefully knock over her bridge so he would have to come back again.

Both couples have been married for over 40 years, and still seem quite in love.  Interestingly, they both gave the same marriage advice: rely on each other.  They stressed the importance of resolving problems together, rather than outside the marriage.

I think Mr. HalfFull and I have relied on each other for years, and hopefully will for years to come.

  • How do you feel about the secrets that led to your proposal?  Does the end justify the means?
  • Do you enjoy hearing how couples met?
  • Do you look to older couples for advice?
  • What marriage advice has resonated with you?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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