Know Your Audience… A Story About Sharing Stories…

Have you ever shared a story and found yourself so amused?  And then noticed… Oops, wrong audience?!?  Oh yeah!  That was me and can be me still… Here’s a great story about sharing a funny story.

About 3 years after my mother-in-law died, I was taking a drawing class as I finished up some classes before beginning grad school.  This class was made up of all sorts of types of people.  Some my age, at the time late 20s, a few older and many just out of high school.  Those of us that were over 21, headed out for a few drinks after class.

As the night progressed, we were just sharing stories about all sorts of things.  Mostly funny situations that have come about.  We were talking about funny and inappropriate things dogs can do when it happened… the deafening silence in a crowded bar…

I shared, what I thought to be, a hilarious story about my dog, Aragorn and my mother-in-law.  Now, my mother-in-law loved animals.  She was known to bring home stray animals, kittens, dogs and even birds.  She had a soft spot for cats, though.  And Aragorn… well, he gave us lots of stories to tell!

Back then, my husband and I had just adopted a sweet little 30 lb doberman/rottie puppy we named Aragorn. Shortly afterward, my mother-in-law had moved in to live with us as we cared for her – her cancer was no longer treatable.

One of the first mornings after she moved in, I was just about to leave for work when she came into the kitchen.  My mother-in-law was quite thin, though she was able to move about well.  She walked into the kitchen in her two sizes too big sweatpants.  Aragorn was so excited to see her, he bumped her bottom with a paw and her pants fell straight down to the floor… My mother-in-law and I looked at each other and busted up laughing.  It was so funny!  It was funny at a time when we needed a bit of humor to lighten the tough time we were living through together.

To this day, I smile thinking of her face of shock, her laugh, and lightness we shared.  I also laugh at the fact that when I shared that story with my classmates, they had no idea how to laugh at a story about a woman who died so young.  This was one of many lessons of my family’s relationship with grief, death and stories is different than others.

My family is very open to share stories of those Loved Ones that have blessed us with sharing their lives and have since died.  The audience matters…  The wrong audience will give you crickets instead of cheers or giggles.  The right audience will cry along with you or let out a belly laugh.

It can be hard sharing stories of our Loved Ones after they have died… we can show others in our lives that it’s okay to say their name… My mother-in-law is Sherrie.  We can show others that it’s okay to talk about all sorts of things about them.  They didn’t vanish or not exist… In fact, it’s quite the opposite, our Loved Ones lived and touched our hearts.  It’s up to us to be the example of saying and hearing their names and sharing their story too.