My dad was a man of stories. If you ever met him, you would agree. I think if you spent maybe a half of hour with him you would know that he was a man of stories.
I took this picture as my dad was telling one of his stories. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about. I’m sure I had heard it before. In fact, I’m sure I had heard it at least fifteen times or more. You see, my dad had a tendency to tell me the same stories over and over again. It use to drive me nuts and so often I just wanted to say, “Dad, you’ve told me this one before…do you have anything new?” But I never did. I always felt if I did I would be interrupting him and that would be rude…I wonder if it is rude to share the same story over and over again…
My dad grew up in Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. He would tell me stories about growing up there in the 20’s and 30’s. It seemed like an odd place and an odd time to me. One time he told me that when he graduated 8th grade his parents had to send him off to high school. That seemed odd to me. I always got on a bus to go to high school or caught a ride with my friend Bruce. We rode his motorcycle once and one time we decided to stop at McDonald’s instead of going to some of our morning classes.
I guess my dad wasn’t able to do things like that because they sent him away to high school. He had to live there because there weren’t any high schools in the area. If you wanted to go to high school, you had to leave the area.
He was proud of his school. It is still around although it has gone through some transformations. It is now the College of the Ozarks. Whenever we would go down to see dad he would take me and my family and drive around the campus. It was a tour of stories. He told us about what the campus looked like when he was there and then tell us which buildings were new and which ones were old. He showed us the buildings he had worked on. Yes, while he was there he helped build the campus.
My sister when there for one or two semesters, but later transferred. Sometimes you can’t get your kids to do what you really want them to do I guess. As for me, it wasn’t even an option for some reason. I’m sure he would have been proud if I would have went there. Even as he grew older he kept connections to the school.
To be honest, I grew weary of my dad’s stories. I couldn’t understand why he kept telling me these stories. I wanted to talk with him. I wanted to know him.
I’m beginning to realize that we really live our lives in stories. I’m starting to understand that dad, by sharing his stories, was really sharing more than stories. He was sharing himself. I wish I could have realized that a few years ago. As much as I wanted him to stop telling his stories, I’m sure he was hoping I would ask to hear them again.