Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Just listening

Three stories that just popped to mind. I am either incredibly nosy or I look like a psychologist. It could be a combination of both. At least once a year I have someone come up to me and tell me their life story. I have no clue who these three people are. Two of them mostly has to do with alcohol and the other was because she was a complete stranger:

Story 1

I stayed at this small town woman's house once a few years ago. Her family ran the gas station/ restraunt in town. She was a sweet lady that hugged me once I walked through the door, even though she didn't know me. I was just traveling along with a friend and her son and my friend were close since they were both little. I spent most of the trip talking to her. We stayed up drinking and I listened to her life story. She told me she almost died once. She remembers floating above her body during an operation. She could describe at that time the music the surgeon was playing and everything in the room. From that point on she was certain of the afterlife, but it wasn't her time. That was before she had her son. Then the story went to her brother. According to her he was wrongly accused of molesting a child when he was a school teacher. I know there is a movie about a case like this. She described the horrid nature of the judicial system and how screwed over he was. She loved to tell the story in hoped that someday someone could help him. She said that she did all that she could and nothing worked. I was drunk by that point so all I remember is that I told her that if I was ever in such a position I would do what I could to help and that at some point she talked about a lawyer smoking crack. Maybe I'm a little confused on this one.

Story 2

I was studying late at night at a restraunt in town. I was just about to go home when I saw the girl a table across from me was almost in tears. Usually I would leave it alone, but my curiosity got the better of me so I sat at her table and asked her what was wrong. She was eager to talk. Her father had just passed away recently. She carried his erne in her backpack and took it around where ever she went. He was all she had left. She did have one living relative left, but it was her uncle that wanted nothing to do with her. Her father had some sort of terminal illness, and he did not wish to be kept alive by machines. He wanted to go home and pass away with his daughter. So that is what he did. His brother, or this girl's uncle, did not believe that this was the right thing to do. He blamed her for taking her father out of the hospital to pass away at home. She was pleading with me that was what her father wanted. It seemed she wanted someone to believe her. So I asked her what she was going to do with the ashes. She said that her father loved the ocean or this certain place by the ocean, I don't remember which. She said when she could get enough money she was going to take him there to spread his ashes. Until then she would still take him around with her everywhere. I didn't bother to ask to see the erne before I left. I honestly thought it was kind of creepy. Seeing a backpack with her was quite enough for me. I told her that I would pray for her and went on.

Story 3

This was when I was in England. I was staying at the University of Kent. I had just made it back earlier that day from Dublin and I could not sleep. The pub was closed and the only other person there to talk to was an older woman (another American) who didn't quite fit in with the other girls in the trip. I invited her to drink with me. I had a bottle of whiskey I had bought in Ireland I wanted to drink. We sat alone away from the dorms to drink. She told me that years ago she had caught her husband cheating on her with another woman. This upset her greatly. She had given herself to him and he betrayed her. So to get back at him, she decided to sleep with a different man every weekend for... I don't remember how long. She said she had a blast with it and she was sure to tell her husband all about it. Of course that marriage did not last. Then she told me about her children. She had a girl and a boy. She said that she believed that it is important for children to learn about sex and especially safe sex from an early age. One day she walked in on her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend messing around. She said that she went in the room and started lecturing them both on safe sex and told them if they were going to do it anywhere, that it at her home was the best place. Next she told me about how she educated her son on sex. She decided the best thing to do was to get him a prostitute. Yes, she took her young son to a prostitute when he came of age. I think probably 18 or something. I kept edging her on and was basically going along with her when my prof walked around the corner. Evidently he heard the entire conversation. We decided it was time to call it a night.

Why I thought of these? I don't know. I was trying to remember the first lady and then the others just came to mind. If I thought of it enough I'm sure more would come to mind. I've always loved sitting and listening to people.


Art said...

Wow El. I know you've told me the first story, but the other two I hadn't heard yet. Weird, weird stuff. I love you!

Jay said...

People see me as a listener to. Which is good, considering I did go into psychology.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Having had careers as a therapist, pastor, social worker, and—not the least—a bar tender, I have heard the stories of dozens of people. Most have been more dramatic than anything a fiction writer could create. One never knows when destiny will introduce us to a new person with a profound story. Being a “good listener” enables folks to tell their stories; it also may be the most important healing element we can offer anyone.