• Debra Berry

Listen to The Story

My dad left this world nearly nine years ago. I think of him almost daily. He has been described as a fine gentleman with a demeanor reflecting his parents’ upbringing. I remember him for many things, one of my favorite things is his stories.

Dad’s parents, my grandparents, came to the United States in the early 1900s from Zacatecas, Mexico. He was the sixth child of twelve and the second child to be born in Michigan to The Zamarron’s of Zacatecas.

I knew little about my grandparents' lives. My grandparents understood English, however grandpa spoke very broken English and grandma spoke very little English. It was challenging communicating and visiting with them, and I seldom did without my dad or an uncle or aunt present.

As an adult I would ask dad to tell me about my grandparents. How did they meet, why did they decide to leave Mexico, I asked. He usually said it was a sad story, and it would make me cry. As much as I begged, dad never talked about it. He was equally reluctant to talk about his youth. Therefore, I know little about my ancestors.

Although dad never did talk about my grandparents’ or his youth, as he aged, he began telling long winded stories, with great joy and enthusiasm, about his adult life. My dad spent his life as the father of eight children, grandpa to twenty-one grandchildren, great-great grandpa to eleven children. He was an electrician, farmer, always a friend, and he never met a stranger. Dad was rich with stories, some more interesting than others, but all precious in his memories.

My siblings, grandchildren included, still talk about dad’s stories. He would start out on a particular subject, but soon he meandered down many different trails on his way. We still laugh, as we recall how we knew it was going to be awhile when dad started telling one of his stories, so we better get comfortable. Sometimes we would joke with dad and ask if we would needed a map to follow his story. He would grin and tell us to just be patient, he was going to make a point.

What I realize now is dad was doing his work. He was reminiscing about his life. He was reflecting back on the events of his life and taking stock in what Erik Erikson refers to as the eighth stage of human development: integrity versus despair. Dad was finding fulfillment, accomplishment, and purpose from his life.

We all have stories to tell, life creates stories. I invite you to bear witness to someone’s story. Give the gift of being patient, present and holding a space of each story. You just might enjoy it and even learn something wonderful.

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