Grandpa Lessons

What makes a good story? My grandpa taught me the art of storytelling. The one instance he gave me actual advice was very formative. The rest of what he taught me came through observation.

I was fortunate to live within a mile of Grandpa while growing up and I probably spent more time at his house than at my own. Many of the stories he would relate were stories that transpired while I was present. This helped because I saw when and how my grandpa would embellish the events. “Embellish” is Writer for “lie.”

One time, my grandpa was telling me a story at which my mom was present. She sat there and continued to correct him. “George, that’s not how it happened.” “No George, he didn’t say that!”

Finally, Grandpa looked at her and said, “This is my story and I’m going to make it worth telling.” Which decidedly shut her up.

I just giggled because for a middle school kid to see his mom told off can be exhilarating. Especially when it’s coming from someone to whom she can’t talk back.

Several months later, I had a similar experience, except the roles had changed. I was telling Grandpa a story at which my mom was present, and she was correcting me. He didn’t give her many chances to alter my story, though.

“No, that’s not…”

“Sue, this is his story and he’s going to make it worth telling,” he interrupted without looking at her.

Grandpa George stood up for me in a moment that was critical. From then on I had the confidence to embellish my stories in a way that would capture the listener’s attention. Now I get to be a professional liar, and Mom just has to sit back and enjoy the tale.


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