This is a timely writing prompt, as lately whenever my kids and I are with my parents our eight-year-old son Sean will ask them to please tell him stories from when I was kid. There are only so many that they can recall and so after awhile the same ones get repeated. Sean doesn’t mind though, as I think he gets a kick out of hearing them over and over again. I know I felt the same way when I was younger hearing tales of when my parents were kids and still do.
I have one sibling, an older sister, Meg. I was born a few months before she turned five. So many of the childhood stories our family tells involve both of us. When Meg turned 40 a few years ago we put together a memory book with friends and family for her birthday. Here are some of the snippets that I shared as part of my contribution to “40 Years of Meg,” which are also some of the stories that our family always tells about us. I kept them in the voice I used in Meg’s memory book (a combination of first and third person), as I like they way I conveyed the stories:
- As you know when I was a toddler just learning to talk I called you Gingi, when I couldn’t say Megan. On one of those audiocassette tapes Dad used to make of us talking as kids, you can hear him say to me, “who’s out in the kitchen?” I replied, “Mom” and then Dad said, “Who else?” and I said, “Gingi!” He said, do some people call Gingi, Megan?” I replied, “Gingi?!” implying, don’t you know that IS what I am saying!” (Or least I thought that was what I was saying!)
- When we lived in the Cape Cod style house in south Evanston we must have had a lot of fun playing in that big yellow basement that Mom and Dad made into our own personal indoor playground, complete with a jungle gym, a swing (attached to the ceiling) and a very cool “Pizza Hut” playhouse! Though I have few memories of our life there, since we moved just after my fourth birthday, one that I do still recall and I know we have recounted and joked about many times over the years is how you used to tell me that you had special powers and could use them to make yourself INVISIBLE… You would tell me to close my eyes, next you would put your shoes somewhere in the basement (such as on top of our Pizza Hut playhouse) and then you would hide behind our washing machine. When you told me to open my eyes you would tell me that I would know where you were by where your shoes were. Then you would talk to me for a while. I was in awe that my big sister could do that!
- One day when we were kids Meg sat me down and told me that there might come a time in the future when she would be kidnapped. She said that the people who did this could clone her! Meg told me that if I ever found my sister in a room with many other girls who looked and acted just like her, that she wanted us to have a secret signal. Meg explained that it would be something that only my “real sister” would know, but not any of the “fake Megans.” There is this thing, a sort of trick, that we discovered that we can both do with our thumbs and Meg suggested that it could be our secret signal. I always laugh now when I think about this, as for years I really believed that it was possible that my sister might be kidnapped and cloned someday and I would have to be prepared to determine which one was really Meg!
- When we were kids hanging out and/or playing together on the first floor of our home in north Evanston, where we lived for most of my childhood, I recall on more than one occasion that Meg wanted something from her bedroom upstairs and was feeling lazy. Meg would convince me to go and get whatever it was that she wanted for her and would motivate me to do it by timing me, to see how fast I could retrieve the item for her!
What story does your family always tell about you?
Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.