Last night I called my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Rick to talk about my cousin Grant. We talked for over an hour and a half.
For the first time with my aunt over the phone, I shared the personal story of confronting my cousin's death. I referenced the two hymns and said the words but I did not sing them. Interestingly, when the story was over, my aunt requested that I sing those songs the next time I told it.
Though it has been almost 14 years since my cousin's death, I have repressed that story. When we had the one-on-one tellings in class, I told Josh that he was really the first person to hear it. I have relived it in my head, but now the story has been heard by others besides Josh.
Schank commented, "People are probably not consciously trying to repress a story. Rather, they are unconsciously trying to remember it so that they can match it to another story like it--should one ever occur" (p. 142). In the case of my cousin Grant, I believe the story surfaced for many reasons, with one reason being that a couple months ago another one of my cousins, Christopher, passed away at the age of 33 from a stroke. Usually one hears of deaths of grandparents or aunts or uncles. The death of cousins before these elders can shake the mind and soul.
After talking with my aunt, I asked if I had her blessing to share Grant's story beyond the family setting. Of course, most of the story is how I cope with death. My aunt agreed that sharing moments from Grant's life would be appropriate and healing for others. Though it will be about two weeks after this Advanced Storytelling Class, she will scan a booklet for me and send through email of other memories that classmates and family members had of Grant. She wished she could get it to me before, though I assured her that stories evolve and that I do not want to rush the development of the story. I would tell the story with what I know now.
Schank said, "The sooner you tell a story, the sooner you can begin to forget it--by never telling it again. If you want to remember the story, on the other hand, keep telling it" (p. 141). I would never want the stories of Grant to fade. In fact, I would love to piece separate stories that emphasize his loving nature for the underdog. A whole program could be dedicated to Grant, who was like the big brother I never had. I am the oldest one in my family. I do have a younger brother and a younger sister, though it seems that most people yearn for a big brother if they do not already have one.
I plan on exchanging stories about Grant with another cousin, Becky. Grant, Becky and I were one to two years apart in age so we had our adventures. When the memories are stored inside for too long, they get fuzzy. Becky and I could do some mutual reminding/storytelling so to make memories clear. I have a feeling that Schank would be pleased to hear this goal.
Until we tell again,