It's strange, how sometimes you don't know what you want to say until you tell a story. Sometimes, the unfolding of that story, the time you take to re-write it from a new perspective, is how you find a little bit of something your memory was trying to tell you. You just didn't understand until you wrote it out.
I've been seeing us, my brothers and me, walking to the edge of our lawn. When we were inches from the gravel road, we cupped our hands around our mouths and yelled through the rows of peach trees to my cousin's house. We had a code word we'd yell that meant "Can you come and play?"
Two of my dad's siblings raised their families in our town. My cousins and I grew up and most of us are still here. I don't stand outside and yell to get their attention, but I could, if I wanted to.
My husband's dad was in the military and they moved a lot. I don't have to say for you know how different his story is from mine. A package came last week, a late Christmas from his parents who live on the East Coast. My little boy opened up a Hallmark recordable story, and with a push of a button, they were in the room.
My in-laws never do anything halfway. They told the story together, repeating whatever lines they wanted, inserting my son's name at random, and using the word "indubitably" the end of every page. My husband rolled his eyes when they began an impromptu song mid-way through the book, making up a tune to the words, and singing with more gusto than even most people manage in the shower. I laughed along, but honestly, thought I might cry. Not a sad cry, but one of those happy cries husbands like to tease about.
For a girl who once stood at the edge of her lawn to get her cousin, learning about distance has been hard. But I have learned something.
I can count on my fingers the number of times I've seen my husband's parents. There are stories there. The first time they held my son. The way she sneaked into the baby's room and got him before he woke me. The tire swing and my father-in-law laughing at the round legged baby smiling up at him. I didn't teach my son to walk. They did. Indubitably, the word they think would be just hilarious to hear him say.
I hear them in my living room, now. My son dances to them singing. Some stories are worth telling. Across an entire country, there are people who love us. I am thankful for all the stories that we keep, just waiting to re-tale. A story, a simple voice, a few words on paper, and I remember all the love I've felt, years ago on a dirt road, to a few days ago in my living room. And that is the power of a story.
JoLyn Brown is a wife and mother turned author. She writes Contemporary YA and is currently working on a LDS collection of short stories about the Relief Society. To learn more about her or her current project, check out her blog at jolynbrown.blogspot.com