A story’s worth

My father traveled a lot when I was a child. He was a tugboat captain, running all over the Mississippi River, the Red River, and even as far up as Ohio River — and many between.

But — as much as he traveled — every night he was home when I was a child, he would come tuck me into bed, and I’d say the old familiar refrain:

“Daddy, tell me a story.”

My dad was poor growing up, but he was joyful and kind and wanted only the best for everyone. He told me stories about throwing out bad tests out of the school bus window (and getting caught!). He told me stories about riding his horses across fields. He told me pretty stories about his childhood, ones that made me laugh and smile and soothed my child’s heart.

He never told me the whole story.

I recognize that so much more as an adult and when I tell stories to my children, because I tell them stories myself. They love hearing about my childhood Chihuahua Che-che, who was sassy and the source of much laughter in my life. They love hearing of the cats that we adopted and raised, the dogs we loved, the yard games that my friends and cousins and I played as we were growing up. 

I don’t tell them the hard things; they’re old enough now and lived through COVID. They know bad things exist. They know this world is not perfect; but they know, because of me and Kyle, that as bad as some things can seem, a silver lining is shining. It may be hard to find — it may not be easy to see — but good and positivity is out there.

Sometimes when I tell them a story, I do tell stories of warning — of when I decided at church camp to show off and did a stupid diving trick that nearly ended up with me falling instead of into water onto asphalt. I tell them that while I did have fun riding behind the lawn mower, I did fall off my piece of cardboard (hey, we were resourceful) and got grass stickers all up and down my legs — but it was fun.

Life as a kid wasn’t always perfect by any means, but it was good. My dad’s life was not perfect by any means — but he saw the good in it.

And I want my kids to see the good in theirs.

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