The craft of story telling is as old as humankind. For some cultural reason, the Irish have always been known as great storytellers, and my grandfather was the epitome of that tradition. My father was a military man, so I spent many of my growing up years living on my grandparent's farm, listening to wonderful stories as told by my grandfather. I learned of the hardships of our family immigration, I learned about members of my extended family, and I learned a whole lot about life from an elderly man who sat in an old stuffed chair and related true and fiction to the eager mind of a pre teen young man.
Many of my grandfather's stories would later appear in his Sunday sermons. He was the local pastor of small country church. Actually, he shared the pastorship with his twin brother. Together they served as a link to the word of God for a couple dozen farmers and their families.
He might pick up my chin, "Look into someone's eyes, and you will see a story," then he would look into my eyes and chuckle, "laddie, there be a story there for sure." His big brown eyes twinkling as he rubbed my head.
I know I squirmed and said something like, "tell me the one about the pigs."
I can still hear his laugh as he leaned back in his chair. "That ol' tale has been told a thousand years." Then he began another telling of a favorite Irish story, but soon his story changed and he included the antics of a little boy, and always the main character in the story was named something very close to my own name. He was a craftsman at the art, creating stories without a script and on the very mention or suggestion of a topic.
Often, when I approached him while he was deep in study in his Bible, he would smile and simply tell me the scripture story from the Bible. He could take the deepest thoughts of Ezra and make them come alive for a troublesome eight year old. If he knew of a particular mischief in which I had been involved, he might make his story relate to my young consternation.
Even when he took me fishing, his favorite pastime, there was a story on his lips. Stories of great fish living in a particular pond, or the stories of Jonah, the stories all seemed to blend together. I had to watch closely though, if I was being very gullible and nave he turned his head to the side and winked, then laughed a wonderful deep voiced laugh.
Sometimes we rode to a country store to get a soda. We sat at the counter together and he would point to big piece of cake, and the next thing I knew, I heard the story of the cake served to the king. Occasionally, the waitress or another person stopped and listened to the story he was telling. As I look back now, I wonder if they were as interested in moral of the story or his Irish brogue. By the end of the story that piece of cake would be sitting in front of me often with two forks.
Many people, including whole families, dropped by the farmhouse to speak with my grandfather. He would usually take his cane and wander out onto the wide porch to greet the visitors. I stayed behind in the living room and played whatever games were set before me. I remember a collection of tops and a gyroscope. Now and then, I could overhear my grandfather out on the porch telling one of his stories.
When he came back in the house he usually said something like, "ah, the lad wanted to know about fishing," or "the wee ones asked for a story." He was just an old storyteller, a country preacher, and a grandfather to a pretentious little boy who loved listening to him practice his craft.
"dub" is a freelance Christian writer, best known for his straight forward approach to common issues. His 38 year professional writing career gives him keen insight into successful reporting. To contact dub email firstname.lastname@example.org
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