Friday, April 17, 2015

Tell your story

 This is not my actual family, but it looks eerily like us.

I grew up in a family of four, sort of. 

With an older brother whom I adored, I happily accepted the role of “baby.”  But then, as these things sometimes go, that little unit fell apart and over time, scattered.

My brother and I grew up under the able tutelage of our single mother.  We eked by on her teacher’s salary and the support our dad sent without fail.

Soon enough, our lives cast us across the country.  Mom moved to Arizona.  I traveled farther west.  Our dad lived and worked in the Middle East.  

Then, my mom, my brother and my dad all three died, in that order, before I reached age 30.

From that point forward, my recollections of my early life had no first-hand energy behind them.  No one who had been there with me could confirm or deny my accounts of the significant or the trivial.

Being a ‘bright side’ person, I can conjure some advantages to that – I can claim to have the highest IQ of them all, for example, though it’s hard for me to hold a straight face when I say it.

There is no one to dispute that I sparkled in the church choir – so long as I don’t mention it in front of my high school friend who really could harmonize.  Why, I can recount tales of my prowess on the softball field if I want to!  Who’s to know the difference?

All in good fun, of course, though it is tinged with the melancholy of loss.  Who’s to know, indeed?

Wouldn’t it be just the best thing ever if I could ask a question or two?  How did you decide to be a teacher, Mom?  Daddy, why did we choose that house on the corner with the swamp cooler and the hard pan clay yard?  What was the hardest thing about starting your own business, my dearest Brother?

And I’d love to tell my little family of origin how it is that I, a scrawny, stringy-haired girl from Tulsa came to be living her dream with the man of her dreams in a tiny dream-like town by the water in California.

I’ve risked sharing these pieces of my personal history, Dear Reader, so that I can urge you to share your memories at an upcoming event here in town.

Benicia Literary Arts is inviting locals to join us in the Dona Benicia Room at the Benicia Public Library on Saturday, April 25th, between 2 and 4 p.m. to tell their Benicia stories.

Tell us why you came here.  Why you’ve stayed.  Do you have a story related to Benicia’s history?  Share a funny or odd incident that has happened to you here in your town.  

What’s your favorite thing to do in Benicia?  What makes Benicia special for you?  Your history as a Benician is part of the fabric of our community and we’d like to make a record of it.

If you have a story to tell you can just show up that day and get in line to share your story.  Or, you can send an email to and tell us you plan to come.  

A writer will listen to your story and write it down.  After the event, we’ll send your transcribed story back to you.  All rights remain with the storytellers.  If Benicia Literary Arts decides they want to use your story, they will get in touch with you and ask your permission.

Would you like to participate as a writer?  Let us know ~ we’ll train you and we could really use your help.

Questions?  Call me at 707 297-6175 or email me at

Meanwhile, so as not to leave you bereft on my behalf, I’m happy to tell you that my dad remarried, way back when, and had a second family.  Though my original family is gone, I have three younger half-brothers whom I also adore. 

In that funny twist, I was promoted from the position of spoiled baby to the elevated station of oldest, wisest (?) role model! 

My ‘little’ brothers listen patiently to the stories of my glory days before they were born.  They don’t know any better!