Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Don't Ever Leaf Me!

I collect stories the way others collect shells – shotgun or sea, it does not matter - I pick them up, brush them off, shine them up a little, examine them, and then either toss them back or place them in my pocket.

I’ve got stories about friends that I share with strangers, and stories about family I share with friends (and stories about myself I share with anyone who will listen.) Recently I heard what very well may be the BEST story ever told. It has memorable characters, an interesting set-up, a relatable premise, and an absolutely HILARIOUS pay-off – but, unfortunately, I can’t share it here...yet!

Ask me in person, and I’ll gladly tell it. Just be forewarned, it is awesomely awful! The sort of story you can’t unhear. I’ve already told it a dozen times since I picked it up last week, and it gets better each time.

As for a story I CAN share here, allow me to offer up an all-time fave. It’s one of many that come courtesy of my in-laws.  And while knowing them definitely adds to the humor, it’s still a good story for anyone...

Back about 25 years or so ago, my father-in-law was taking an Environmental Science course, part of which required a weekend of camping and canoeing down the Connecticut River with his classmates. 

He had his wife drive him up there, and when they arrived at the drop-off site, she was surprised to find a bunch of much younger students, mostly artsy, bearded dudes and  attractive, bra-less, free love hippie type women, all waiting to paddle off with her husband (and father of her two children) for a weekend in the woods.

As she waved goodbye from the shore -  he may have waved back – it was hard to tell among all the jiggling boobs and hoisted beer cans - she was certain she would never see him again.  So much so, that when she returned home, her first action was to remove the leaf from the kitchen table as her children looked on.

“Why did you do that?” the kids wanted to know.

“We don’t need it anymore,” she said. “Your father is never coming back!”

Of course, he did come back.  And remained a wonderful and faithful husband right up to (and through) her death in 2010 - but what I really love about the story is my mother-in-law’s physical reaction to cope with an emotional response. In her heart, she knew her husband would return, but the way she dealt with that shadow of a doubt in such a dramatic, yet sensible, manner, really pinpointed her personality for me. And even though I did not know her at the time it happened, hearing it retold cemented my respect for her. 

I know that to an outsider, this is probably just a funny story about the ups and downs of marriage. To friends and family, it might be the essence of Kathy captured in a nutshell.  To me, it's a time capsule peak into my wife's family before I came on the scene. And to you...well, you can share your reaction in the comments below! But that's the true mark of a good story, when both teller and listener come away with something to put in their pockets. 

1 comment:

  1. Your thoughts and writing of this story is just another part of you that cements in my mind just what a special man you are.......