11  10 2014

once upon a time

When I was a kid, I loved stories.  I loved being read to at night and I especially loved made up stories my dad used to tell me.  He made up these nightly adventures of a country mouse… each time he started each tale with once upon a time.  I waited impatiently for him to weave a tale of enchantment, adventure and endearment.  The mouse would find small ventures around an old farmhouse and each one had the little mouse using his wit to outsmart some obstacle faced.  The mouse would find cheese, or make a friend out of the farm animals, or uncover a hidden treasure as he outsmarted a barn cat and retired couple living in the farmhouse.  Each time my father told the story of the little mouse, he would end each tale with a cliff hanger that would have me more wide awake than lulled to sleep.  Thinking back, I can’t say that my dad told this story every single night, but I have a vivid memory of these moments in my childhood.  I looked forward to each encounter with my dad and would hop into bed eager for a bedtime story… even past the age where bedtime stories were considered a part of a child’s nightly routine.   I don’t remember when he quit telling me the stories but I wished they’d never end.  We moved quite a bit, and those stories were one of the few constants in my life.  I believed at an early age, I could over come any cliffhanger in my life.  I, like that mouse, could make strangers my friends.  I could problem solve and find solutions in the midst of insurmountable odds.  I believed that though alone, I didn’t have to be lonely.  It was so small now that I think about it, yet it was a huge lifeline for me.  My father’s voice was like few times I heard in my life time.  In the pulpit on Sundays preaching to the morning crowds of soul seekers at church, it would raise and lower with intensity.  It was unlike interaction with my siblings or my mom in which he always seemed engaged in some battle of sorts and was defending, always raising a voice to defend something in his life that seemed sacred.  During story-time, his voice was tender and calm like someone with a newborn who is enthralled with the newness of life.  The only other time I heard this hushed storytelling voice was years later when he took me hunting a few times the year before I married.  In those woods, he seemed to harken back to that soft tender voice as he directed me to the deer stand, to climb over a log, or to duck under a fence.  His voice in those south Louisiana woods was sacred and sincere and held a tenderness I only heard again in the last days of his life on earth.  When I would sit by his bed as he had mine, holding his hand sharing Psalms, old songs and hushed stories of a mouse we both knew long ago.  He whispered to me in a heart felt , longing voice, “Sweetheart… sing me a song… tell me a story.”


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