Why You Need to Know

You don’t need to know anything I have to say, not really. And yet I am compelled to tell you. I’m compelled to take the time to enter into a different era, a time when stories were told from beginning to end, when people listened to the end as a matter of course. Patience and time were abundant then. These days, a story had better be short and funny to be heard from beginning to end.

My grandma used to tell the same stories over and over. I’ve forgotten so many of her stories and now that she’s gone, I can’t ask her to tell me again the way I would have when I was a child. I can remember her though, swinging in the porch swing on a muggy evening at dusk. I always see her in a red and white cotton dress that she often wore, even in the garden, using her apron to gather potatoes, green beans, and corn for dinner. I loved that red and white dress. My mother would have been sitting upright in a caned chair, knitting. My dad might be perched on the old milk stool while my grandpa sat at the top of the three porch steps, ash from his cigarette ready to fall to the sandy soil. My sister would have been reading a book, one leg swung over the arm of a rickety lawn chair. My brother and I would have fly swatters in hand, as if killing one fly would diminish their number. The old house sat across the street from a field of the neighbor’s horses. Flies just came. I used to imagine that a fly, perched on the peeling white column at one corner of the porch, eyes wide, would be listening to my grandma’s story, before I tried to squash him flat.

And grandma would weave her stories and everyone, except perhaps my sister, would be listening until the end.

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