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Another Day in the Country

Tell me a story

© Another Day in the Country

Did you know that if you told me a story, something that happened to you in your life, just anything, that I could then tell you something about your physical and mental well being?

It’s rather magical how we reveal inner truths, even hidden things, as we tell stories about the things that have happened to us throughout the years.

These stories that we tell always have fascinated me — long before I knew there were whole psychological healing systems built around storytelling. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by stories. As a child, I began collecting them. The stories first came from my Grandma Ehrhardt. I’d have to coax and beg her to tell me stories. She thought they weren’t important, but eventually she would begin.

At first, I just remembered the high point and then I began to write the stories down. When I go through boxes of memorabilia, I still find scraps of paper with story particulars written on them. Sometimes the stories include a picture and, on the back of the photo, the names of the people written in my Grandma’s looping 3rd grade cursive handwriting.

Grandma’s stories often were sad stories of meanness, death and disappointment, but I would beg for more. 

She told me the story of her wedding day, how her mother suddenly didn’t want her to leave the house and grabbed hold of her hair in a frenzy and pulled a hank of it out; how she didn’t have a proper slip for her dress and her new sister-in-law gave her one to use; how they came home from a justice of the peace and went to work because it was harvest time. Her stories often were sad stories; her life, difficult.

My Grandpa Ehrhardt was a natural storyteller. You didn’t have to ask him for a story; he always was telling them. Grandpa told funny stories. It frustrated me as a child because the punch line of his stories was usually in German, and even if I asked for a translation of the words, something was missing.

I don’t believe I ever heard my grandpa tell a sad story. His tales — some made up, some jokes, some just about life — always were full of humor.

When we’d get together at family reunion time with the Schuberts, who were my mother’s family, someone always was telling a story.

Uncle John was a good storyteller. You never had to coax him for a story, but my aunts were hesitant.

I remember Aunt Anna telling of her younger sister, Frieda, sleep walking. I loved it when the sisters (there were six of them) would start telling stories on each other. 

There was a story of Martha learning to drive a Model A and how she didn’t know how to stop it and drove around and around the yard yelling for help.

Uncle Hank was a good storyteller, and I remember him telling me about when Anna lost her son James.

By the time James was 3, Anna (who married later in life) had two more children.

“Her hands were full, and then some,” Uncle Hank would chuckle, “and one day, when the crops were high in the field, she lost James. You know Anna. She was always so self-sufficient, it was hard for her to call for help. But we all came and found him.” 

I was so busy listening to the story unfold that I forgot to ask, “Where? Where did you find him?” So, I don’t know the ending to that tale — even now. The important thing was that he was found safe.

When my own children were small, I read them lots of stories — over and over and over. I listened to them tell stories from their day at school. I don’t know that I told them stories about when I was a child, though. I don’t remember them ever asking.

When Jana was about 4 she loved playing in her sister’s playhouse and inviting me for tea. I would sit, pretending to drink tea, and she would tell me pretend stories about her life, waxing eloquent about her husband and all of her children and the things they were doing.

One day she said, “And, Mom, do you know who my husband is?”

Well, of course, I didn’t.

“It’s Dave Igler,” she announced, “and do you know that he never comes home to help with the children?”

There was a dramatic pause as she waited for my reaction to this news. Dave Igler was my boss where I worked. She knew that I held him in high esteem and here she was telling me about a side of him she was sure I’d never imagined.

Yes, I love a good story and I must admit that, 50-odd years ago, listening to my little girl spin tales about her pretend family, I never would have imagined that someday I would be living in Ramona and on just another plain ordinary day in the country I’d be telling stories to you.

Last modified Nov. 8, 2023

 

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