Sunday, January 4, 2009
GUEST POSTING BY JOHN CUNNINGHAM: Why don’t other people tell their stories?
For Christmas I went to visit my family in Florida which consists of my brother Buddy, his wife Tracy, nephew Ryan, and two nieces, Nichole and Jennifer and their families. Over the course of spending an evening together, my Mom, Buddy, and I began telling stories about the crazy times we had growing up.
Like the time my Mom decided to leave my Dad. She loaded all of us (five kids) in the car along with some random mailman my sister had met and wanted to bring along and headed from Florida to Michigan. This was around 1973-74. So there we were 7 of us, cruising in a old school Pontiac Lemans down the highway to Michigan. We stopped along the way and ate cereal out of the little box it came in and that was probably about it. When we arrived in Michigan, my uncle Jim (Mom’s brother) promptly put the mailman on a bus back to Florida. We moved into a house my cousin Debbie owned. The house was on swamp land, the basement was completely flooded and we would catch Minnows off our porch, for fun - not food. It wasn’t long until my Dad arrived and we were back to together again.
We didn’t stay long in Michigan but my two memories are 1) my sister getting married (not to the mailman but a boyfriend from high school….whole other story) and 2) me getting off the bus after school, running towards the house where my Mom was waiting on the porch, hitting the ice and sliding all the way to porch steps…that must have made quite an impression on the other kids on the bus. I don’t think I ever went back to school there.
Then there was the time that we went to the grocery store with my step-grandmother Norma. Her real name was not Norma but she went by Norma because she had forged her brother’s birth certificate, changing the name from Norman to Norma, so she could join the army…so suffice it to stay, Norma was a big girl. So big that when we went to pay the grocery clerk, she couldn’t find her wallet and we had to go back home without the groceries only so she could find the wallet was stuck so deep under her arm she didn't know it was there! (NO LIE)
Back to Christmas, so after everyone had left, my brother asked a great question. Why do we have all these crazy stories to tell and others don’t seem to either have them or be willing to them?
Believe me, some of our stories are not so funny but they are what gave us our character and shaped who we are. Of my Mom’s six kids, none of us have been to jail (for any extended amount of time…J), failed out of school, been homeless or on welfare (though I tried during my recent sabbatical but Kevin wouldn’t allow). Yea, we’ve had our hard times and experienced some of the tougher sides of life, but all in all, we have been blessed. So why are we alone in this story telling?
For example, I was on a date with a guy about five years ago, we had been seeing each other for a few months, and over the course of dinner, I began telling him stories. At one point, I realized that all the color had gone from his face and he was in a state of shock and total judgment. I was blown away by his closed mind and fear of knowing the truth about where I came from…..
In today’s terms, we would have been poor white trailer trash….I don’t always relate to who we were growing up but I never want to forget and sure as hell never want to be ashamed! So, if on this road to happy destiny I should tell you one of my stories, laugh with me…..there is no one happier about one’s journey so far in life than me!