This Is Not A Newsflash But It Is A Damn Good Story

I love stories.

Sostegno e aiuto a persone anziane

This is not a newsflash.  LOL.  I’m a novelist, so of course I love stories.

But don’t you?  Ah, hearing what makes people tick, how their lives have run their course, listening to what they’ve learned, doesn’t that just tweak you?  It sure does me. Not that I can ever learn from them! Learning the hard way has been my choice 🙂

I also seem to have one of those faces that just says, “Please tell me about you.”  Because no matter where I go, folks just do.

Think I’m exaggerating?  I’ll relate just one, which just happened, and still has me laughing.

I had to get new tires on the van.  And was feeling both annoyed and blessed about it.  Annoyed that it was taking a piece of my day, but truly grateful I didn’t wreck as one tire had worn smooth.  I know, I know—I should have paid more attention!

But to mitigate the time-waste annoyance, I took along a manuscript to edit.  Lucky for me, I can work just about anywhere.

As long as I can keep to myself . . .

So there I sit in Discount Tire.  Head buried in manuscript pages, red pen flying away.  And open seats all over the place.

When here comes this little old lady, who plunks down right beside me, cane and all.

“You must be a teacher,” she said, nodding to the work in my lap.

I swallowed my sigh, knowing the gig was up.  No way could I not talk to this sweet wrinkled face, and the crystal-clear blue eyes sparkling at me.

“A book editor,” I replied.

“Oh, what an exciting line of work!” she said, and we were off and running to wherever this meeting would take us.

We of course first bemoaned the lack of people actually reading these days, and how that’s led to the dumbing down of our country.  What with all the “smart” devices, people have sure gotten stupid, was her take on that.

I could only laugh. And agree.  Of course, I think everybody on the planet should read books 🙂

Not once did she say, “In my day . . .” but she did soon tell me she was 90 years old this year.

I about fell over.  She didn’t look nearly that old.  Especially with those sparkly eyes.  But I also felt a pretty sharp catch.   My mom would have been 90 this year . . .

We talked about living on the farm, and how that nurtured the values that our culture seems to have lost—chiefly, hard work and honesty.

Which got her onto politics.  I kid you not.  Sharp as a tack, she knew all the facts and was disgusted by the political climate we find ourselves in.

A lifelong Republican, she said she was sickened by what this group of clowns was doing to her party.  And, before you throw tomatoes at me, “clowns” was her word!

I did mention that my parents would be revolving in their graves over this.  And was so heartened when she reached over to squeeze my hand . . .

She did harken back to days of yore about one thing—how the journalists of her day wouldn’t let all these politicians get away with bald-facing lying to the camera without calling BS on them.

Again, BS was her word.

Lest you think she wasn’t proper, she was a prim and perfectly put together as any woman of that generation ever would be.  She just said what she meant, and meant what she said.

And it was then that our conversation sort of merged journalists, politics, and men.   I know, an odd combination, right?

But she talked about how the journalists today were just pretty faces, especially the female ones, and especially on the FOX news channel.  Whom she would never normally see because this channel spread lies all day, with no facts involved.

Once more—I’m just reporting what she said!

And how the news readers were all these talentless but pretty young perfect girls, makeup expertly applied, and especially in tight, short skirts.

“Isn’t it funny,” she said, “how they always get a shot of their legs.  And the skirts are so short, you can almost see to possible.”

Now, if you have spent much time with older generations of women, you get the “possible” joke.  If you haven’t, such a pity!

She went on to say that she and her husband volunteer at the nursing home!  They’re 90, mind you.  Every time I think about it, that just makes me laugh.

And that the “old” men are always glued to FOX news, watching the pretty young things.

“They’re just staring at the girls’ legs,” she said with a chuckle of her own.  “I told one of the old men that, and you know what he said? He turned to me with a mischievous grin and said, ‘Isn’t she wearing such purty shoes.’”

I’m still laughing.

Such marvelous stories are all around us. Such beautiful lives people have led. And how incredibly blessed I am that they tell me their tales with such unabashed abandon.

So now it’s your turn—what are the stories you’ve heard?

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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39 comments
Joan Potter says May 11, 2016

Susan – Before I’d even read your next paragraph, I’d copied & pasted the line “can almost see to possible” to my collection of wonderful word choices that I keep for future writings of my own. I’d never heard that phrase before!
I think what we love is the delightful AUTHENTIC conversations. My 22 y.o. nephew died in February, and I suggested to my sister that she write letters to him – kind of a diary/communications she would want him to know if he could look down on her & read. She took my advice to heart (I think it’s probably the only thing that’s kept her from putting her head in the oven). Anyway, she e-mails me the letters from time to time, and of course, they’re one big cry-fest, but I devour them because they’re so authentic.
Recently, I’ve been watching on e-bay for collections of old war letters, for ammunition for future writing. Those old phrases – spoken with such an authentic open heart (kind of the opposite of bitching) – is exactly what I’m looking for.
And, as a wise person once said: I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have time to write a shorter one!

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

    Isn’t it so true, Joan! And oh, I’m so sorry about your nephew. But how I absolutely love hearing about your sister’s letters to him. What a beautiful journey through her grief.
    And aren’t old letters just amazing! Great idea about looking on e-bay for collections.
    I’m a big Ken Burns fan, and one of the things I love about all his works, especially The Civil War, is the use of all the old letters. They just put you there, no?

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Jess says May 11, 2016

Love this post, tweeted!! xo

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Colleen M. Story says May 11, 2016

Ha ha ha. What a fun meeting. I’ve had some like that, but she sounds like a real spitfire. Reminded me some of my grandma as I was reading. We do resent these interruptions at first but they always have something to give us. Glad you got to meet this neat lady. :O)

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Roslyn Tanner Evans says May 11, 2016

Absolutely love this post & that was a new phrase. I think you get into this open conversation with older folk who have much to share. They have stories & opinions collected over their lifetime. An English professor friend of mine is translating his Dads journal during his WWII pilot days. I get to hear them from time to time and they would make a great film.
I also think you get the same wisdom from young ones. Our 4-year-old granddaughter recently told her Dad not to be sad that his mom died. Izzy had a mom & 2 grandmoms, so she could lend him one. Precious

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

    Aren’t their stories just wonderful, Roz! And oh, out of the mouths of babes–I love your granddaughter’s generosity! What a wonderful story 🙂

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com says May 11, 2016

Hi Susan! I can’t even come close to beating that one. What an awesome woman she is and such a great reminder that a good personality and good character known no age. She is timeless. Thank you so much for sharing this and NOT just because I agree with her view of the news!!! ~Kathy

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

    LOL, Kathy! You can’t make this stuff up, can ya. She was just a hoot, and I left feeling oh-so grateful to have met her!

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Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

Okay, so since nobody seems to have heard the “possible” reference, here’s how it goes:
The grandmas of my generation (including my own!) didn’t mention female body parts. When we were little and bathing at homes, they would tell us to wash as far down as possible. Then as far up as possible.
And finally, to wash possible 🙂

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Sabrina Quairoli says May 11, 2016

That’s a lovely story and the lady sounds sharp. I love that! I tend to go places with the family and people come up to me and do the same thing. There was a lady when we were on vacation that started talking to me for about 15 minutes. She just wanted to talk and I was ok with that. My kids and husband said, after she left, that never happens to them. Oh well, I am my parents’ daughter. It would happen to them too.

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

    Isn’t it a hoot, Sabrina! “Tell me your story” must be written on your face too 🙂 But ah, the stories we hear!

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Beverley Golden says May 11, 2016

You might not believe this, however, I have been writing a piece on this very topic, which I hope to finally share next week! You might love the project I happened on too, “Biology of Story”, an interactive online documentary that is about “story”. Without saying too much more, it became the third puzzle piece that wove together this emerging real-life story I was in the midst of.

Like you, I am often caught up in these kinds of conversation “gems” everywhere I go. My daughter asks me, “Do you have to talk to everyone?!” Of course my answer is “Yes.” 🙂 Life is rich, bringing us stories to engage with all the time. All we have to do is say, “Yes”. Love this story and of course it came right to you. It sounds like you almost didn’t have a choice but to engage. It was asking you to say “yes”. This 90+ generation has so much to teach us if we stop to listen. 🙂

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    Susan Malone says May 11, 2016

    I can just see that, Beverley–you talking to everyone 🙂 And so true–life just brings us stories if we’ll listen! And I love, love hearing what the wise have to say. I still marvel that when my mom was born, women didn’t even have the right to vote. Oh, the things she saw!

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Rachel Lavern says May 11, 2016

Hi Susan,

I have noticed that I meet some pretty awesome people when I ‘do not want to be disturbed”.

Just this past Sunday while waiting to board my airplane, I noticed a handsome man seemingly walking across the floor towards my dining table. You see, I was returning from an intense four-day business event and, since I am an introvert, was looking forward to some much missed quiet time. Yep, he asked if he could join me and, before I knew it, I had blurted out “as long as you don’t plan on talking to me”. Turns out he was a delightful man who had noticed me at the event AND he is now my newest client…paid me in full right then and there!

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2016

    Wow, Rachel, now that’s a success story! And isn’t it funny how he dropped right in. Cool!

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Tamuria says May 11, 2016

I love a good story too, Susan and this one had me smiling all the way. The lovely lady sounds so much fun and so insightful.”You can almost see to possible” – a wonderful line. I agree we are surrounded by wonderful stories. This week I met a man who is trying to convert the world, one person at a time, to a new religion – called acceptance. More on that another time. 🙂

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Teresa says May 11, 2016

I only wish to be such a great writer and storyteller. Little did I know in years gone by what a gift it is to own. You have a this beautiful gift Susan. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2016

    Oh, that is so sweet, Teresa. I just listen to folks (often the ones in my head) and write what I hear 🙂

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Kristen Wilson says May 11, 2016

What a great story and I must admit, I am like that lady… I can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere…. ANYONE… I love people and can find the good in them.. and make them feel good!

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2016

    Why does that not surprise me, Kristen? I can see you talking to whomever is near you–and making them feel better!

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Christy Soukhamneut says May 11, 2016

You can see all the way from piety shoes to possible ….I was cracking up. We need to take time to get to know people. We would learn so much.

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2016

    So true, Christy! I always come away from those experiences so enriched.

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Lisa Swanson says May 12, 2016

I don’t have any stories of my own to share, but your story reminds me of why I miss my grandmother, mother and mother-in-law so much. They all had such wonderful stories to tell and they also had very strong opinions about politics, current events and life in general. Thanks for a great post!

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    Susan Malone says May 12, 2016

    I hear you, Lisa. She reminded me so much of my mom. I felt like I was gifted with a visit from her . . .

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Jackie Harder says May 12, 2016

What a great story! I too have conversations with complete strangers; possibly you and I are siblings separated at birth. In the grocery store last week, I spoke to a man who said his 80-year-old mom had just filed for divorce. I said, “At the risk of being offensive, good for her. Life is too short to live with someone you no longer want to be with.” His beef: Now he was going to have to take care of TWO homes instead of just one. 😉

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    Susan Malone says May 13, 2016

    Twins by different mothers, Jackie 🙂 And what a hoot that man telling you this story! Good for his mom 🙂

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Joyce Hansen says May 12, 2016

If you’re open to finding out about life you will find life stories everywhere you go. I was taking a walk the other night and noticed a woman and dog standing stationary for some time before I approached. As she noticed me, the woman apparently felt obligated to explain. She has this lovely, female greyhound dog who sometimes is stubborn. The dog wants to go in one direction, the woman in the opposite direction. She explains to me that this is a standoff. She’s very patient as the dog faces one direction and she the other. Eventually, she says the dog gives in and they continue their walk. I’m not sure who I admired more. The woman for being patient or the dog sticking to her guns as long as she did.

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    Susan Malone says May 13, 2016

    LOL! You can’t make this stuff up, Joyce! I love, love this story. And got an instant image of the woman and her greyhound in a standoff! Thank you!

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Joan M Harrington says May 12, 2016

What a fantastic story indeed, Susan!!! I was laughing as well as I was reading 🙂 It is so amazing when we come across women like her and their generation and how very honest and clear they are about what they think! Thank you so much for sharing your story and how great it was to meet this lady who was not acting like her age at all lol

I have no story that I can share that even compares 😉 Thanks for the great post!

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    Susan Malone says May 13, 2016

    Reminds me of that poem, “When I am an old Woman, I shall wear Purple.” I’ve always thought I should adopt that sooner. Maybe she was a reminder? 🙂

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Carol Rundle says May 15, 2016

How fun for you! It reminded me of my mother, aunts, and grandmothers, how I enjoyed listening to them talk. I always learned something new (whether they wanted me to or not!). I always loved listening to my grandmother talk to her sister and they’d easily go between English and German without missing a beat. Hey, could it be they switched to German when they didn’t want me to know what they were saying?

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    Susan Malone says May 16, 2016

    I love that, Carol! My mother’s people were all Czech, and they did the same thing–talking in that language a lot when us kids were around 🙂 They knew how to discuss anything without little ears picking up on it.

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Mandy Allen says May 16, 2016

I have always been fascinated by the stories of the elderly. They have such honest opinions about everything. I volunteer on the old people’s day centre bus and I absolutely love it! We have such fun all the time. Even the grumpy ones can’t help but enjoy themselves when I’m driving! Either that or they’re so busy holding on to their seats they just can’t be grumpy!

Enjoy the journey!

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    Susan Malone says May 16, 2016

    Isn’t it wonderful to hear their wisdom and opinions and thoughts on all things, Mandy. Such a wealth, just there at our fingertips. I bet your bus rides are a hoot!

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Gary Goldstein says March 5, 2017

My
Mom spent the last few years of her life in assisted living in charleston SC. I would take to her fellow tenant neighbors and got enough stories of their younger years, their children, grandchildren, friends no longer alive, husbands and wives now gone,and so much more. 75 men and women, all intheir eighties…and each one had compelling stories, some sad, some spiritually enlifting. Ifilled slmost a dozen notebooks with their memories. Mrs. Alma sue Cherry,89 and a former scholteacher, wanted only to win the first prize inthe wednesdsy bingo game–a package of stool softeners.

Oldsters have a lot to say. And we’re wise to listen.

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    Susan Malone says March 6, 2017

    I bet you collected wonderful stories, Gary! I did too when my dad lived in a nursing home at the end. Oh, the stories they told! You should publish that collection 🙂

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