A friend of mine posted a video of himself singing with his grandfather recently. His Papa is 94 and apparently has a very rich musical history.
He talked about singing with Chet Atkins and Elvis, and he mentioned “a picture somewhere of Dolly Parton kissing him.” It made me think of my own Papa and his stories that I haven’t heard.
A few months ago, in some random conversation about him, I brought up my Papa’s military experience. When asked what he did in the military, I was a bit ashamed to respond: “I don’t know.”
Pretty much my whole life I knew he was in the military but never heard any war stories or even asked about it. I will be the first to tell you that I’m very self-centered. If something doesn’t concern me directly, I don’t give much attention to it. I’m working on that. But this, to me, was too much. So, I asked him about it.
As it turns out, I hadn’t heard much because there wasn’t much to hear. He was drafted, picked a field that would keep him close to home and got out as soon as he could.
Nothing wrong with that; I’d probably have done the same thing. Some people are cut out for service. I, and apparently my grandfather, am not. However, we hold the highest respect for those who do.
However, it led me to ask for more stories that I have never heard: Where he and my step-grandmother met, how she built her flower business, where they built their house, about buying my mom a Mustang for her first car, about his Harley… These are all stories that I have never heard.
Why it’s taken me 40 years to ask about them may be shameful, but I have been asking every chance I get. It’s something that none of us likes to think about, but those chances eventually run out one way or another.
It’s also led me to think about the stories I’ll eventually tell my grandkids (which better be a long time from now), and man, I need to start living differently. Most of the stories I have should not be repeated, at all, to anyone!
Or maybe I can just conveniently forget the era that was my 20s.