The stories we share

I met a woman the other day, at my internship, who is in her late 80's. She picked cotton in Arkansas with her mother, starting at the teeny tiny age of 6. SIX. She remembers picking cotton and putting it in her mother's apron.
She is the first person I have met that picked cotton throughout her childhood and into adulthood.

I met a man last month, at my internship, who has lost his ears and several fingers due to diabetes. He will soon lose at least one of his legs, up to the knee. He rides an electric scooter wheelchair thingy. He honks at people as he speeds through the halls. We raced one another-I was on foot. He won. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and such a fascinating memory.
He is the first man I have met that has outlived his wife.

I am meeting such amazing people at my internship, their histories rich with love, loss, joy, and sadness. I am humbled daily, by their ability to ask for help, graciously. I am so appreciative of the things they share with me, tidbits about their children, their childhoods, their marriages, their losses. I am in awe of them.

The stories they share (and those they hold onto) are so important to all of us. They provide us with the missing pages ripped out of our history books. They can guide us in our own screwed up lives, if we just stop and listen, really listen. They can teach us things about grief, strength, motivation, love, and forgiveness-things we all could use some lessons on.

As I walk the hallways of the facility, I speak to everyone I pass. I shake with anticipation when I enter the building every morning: Who will I meet today? What will I learn? Who will share a piece of themselves with me? How will I make someone's day?

For the lady who told me about the cotton farms in Arkansas, all it took was someone taking an interest in what she had to say. She spoke more to me, in that 35 minutes, than she has in the past month. And it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with my ability to just LISTEN and take interest.

When I leave at the end of the day, I am reminded that I have so much to learn-about life, love, patience.....

Driving home the other day, I was struck by how similar these two communities are: the aging population and the blogging community. With a blog, we have so much to offer one another, just in sharing about our own lives, our own hurts, experiences, mistakes, joys. A blog post can be a gift to someone else. It can offer relief, a sense of not feeling so alone in something.

I have said many times that I blog for ME. That I pour myself out for my own sanity, my own relief, my own self-analyzation. And that's true. This space is my soul on paper, in print, carved into the tabletop of the real world. As my followers come and go, I continue writing....when it's easy, when it's hard. When the story is silly, and when it is heartwrenching and frightening. This is MY story.

At the same time, I try to keep in mind that I have readers-REAL people with REAL problems and REAL hearts and minds. I have readers who might get something out of what I put here-a sense of peace, an inspiration, an answer, a starting point for a change....or even just a laugh. And that just amazes me. Truly amazes me.

I am equally amazed when my readers inspire me, lift me up, and calm me down. You guys are a blessing. I am so thankful for this blogging community, so thankful for you, and you, and YOU.


Tara said...

It truly is amazing the stories we hear when we stop and listen to what someone has to say. I'm glad that you're excited about your internship and learning so many things through these people. Part of the reason I enjoy the diversity of my blog roll is the stories that people have to tell. They might think they're boring, but I'm absolutely fascinated most of the time!

Dee said...

Not many people will listen to the elderly (thank you!), they have amazing stories to tell.

I love all the stories I read here on blogger!

Anonymous said...

That makes me think of that Wear Your Sunscreen (in a good way):

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

TUWABVB said...

I love that you love what you are doing - and you are making such a difference, I just admire you so much. I hope you know that.

These people sound amazing and so do their stories...I ove that I can experience a piece of these people's histories through you.