Recently I told stories to a group at a senior citizen's home. They came with wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids and other assistive devices. They were bent, crippled, old and many just plain tired of living. What could I possibly say to them that would be worth their attention? That was what passed through my mind as they came into the room.
I decided that I needed to get to know them, each one. I introduced myself to each person, asking their name. I met Sophia, Marie, Mary. Willadean, Dale, Bob, and many others. Each told me their name and where they were from. Most were from that very county, a few from out of state. Each told me their name carefully, and each name I recorded in my memory.
Then it was time to tell stories. They listened. I sang, they sang, I laughed and they did too. The stories flowed; sometimes they shared a memory with me.
The hour ended too soon. When it was over, I went to each to say good-bye, to give and get hugs, and look into each pair of aging eyes. As they are, so will I be one day. It is not a frightening thought; if I am like them, how blessed I will be to be able to hear a story with my friends, to laugh and sing and enjoy yet one more day in this world.
When I left I thought over the time with this group and what I could learn from it. Of all the lessons I learned, the most valuable was this: remember the names. Listen to the names, for that is most important. Remember the names and the valiant people attached to them. What other means of identifying ourselves do we have?
I am Susanna, teller of stories, mother of sons, grandmother of many. Who are you?