Listen to ordinary things. . . .
—Naomi Shihab Nye
NPR’s StoryCorps project has designated the day after Thanksgiving as a National Day of Listening–a day set aside for listening . . . really listening . . . to and recording a loved one’s stories, with special emphasis put on hearing that person’s story without judgment and with an eye toward better understanding those who might not share our particular points of view. That, it seems to me, pretty well runs the gamut of family: mothers/daughters; sons/fathers; husbands/wives; sisters/brothers. All the people we at once hold dear but often have a hard time tolerating, or at least understanding. People we tune out from time to time, forgetting to listen to what makes them uniquely ordinary.
Both of my parents are deceased. I won’t be recording any more of their stories, but I’m glad that I took time when I could to hear some of them. I even got my mother to write down one or two of hers. Here, then, in honor of today–and because I’m trying these days to listen to the ordinary–are a few (condensed) stories my mother passed down to me that I’m passing down to you:
my mother’s mother
sweeps dirt into a lawn
where grass won’t grow
they eat turnips (smashed not whole)
if no one comes calling . . .
she won the penny
she holds in the photograph:
–In memory of Aragene Lane Dornaus
Thank you for listening along with me.