This picture is a couple weeks old.
I’d intended to write about this night when it was fresh. But life happened.
The night in this picture was one of those nights that was unplanned but magical.
The “hey my great uncle is coming over for dinner” text about two hours before the workday ends kind of night.
He was in town from California for a funeral.
“Can I get you something to drink?” I asked him.
“No, I’ve been sipping this vodka tonic since this afternoon.”
I pretended to take dishes to the sink, for the sole reason of grabbing my phone.
I had gone almost three hours without it.
I had to document this evening somehow.
Stories. Conversation. Red wine. Laughter.
Not what I had planned for my Monday night that week.
I remember thinking, “he might be the best story-teller I’ve ever heard.”
Every story he told was communicated with vivid detail.
Like a magician, I never knew where he was leading us but I was hooked.
You know people like that. They’re captivating.
I have been married to his niece’s daughter for 13 years. I’m her person. We know everything, good and bad, about each other.
But there were a dozen things about her I had never known until that Monday night.
Things she did. Things she said. Trouble she got in.
And there were even more about him I’d never heard.
Where he grew up. How he grew up. How he made a difference in the lives of young people. How he’s still making a difference.
How he encouraged a budding actor to go for it and chase his dreams.
Stories are a precious gift. They’re powerful. They communicate far more than the story that’s simply being told.
In them, we find ourselves. We find resonance. We find hope.
As I get older, I want to grow in my story-telling.
I want to be able to hold court around a long farm table while the red wine is poured where checking notifications on a phone is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.
Like Great Uncle John does.