Being born with a love for stories and storytelling is both a gift and a curse. I talked early, hanging on every word, especially if the subject seemed intense, secretive, or perplexing.
I stayed in trouble through my childhood for repeating word for word a story I wasn’t necessarily supposed to have been privy to.
My superior language skills, and commanding demeanor ensured that the tales went to the worst possible person, like my first-grade teacher, Miss Davis, “My mama said she wouldn’t take her sick dog to Dr. Davis.”
My little speech didn’t endear either me or my mother to Miss Davis. I felt she was quite rude at her retort. “Well! You can just tell your mama my daddy is a fine doctor!”
Returning home with the whole story, I was surprised to find my report to Miss Davis hadn’t won me any points with Mother, either.
My family competes with storytelling at every holiday and family gathering, urging each other own, not too much bothered by total truth or logic. Why let the total truth get in the way of entertainment. Just a little nugget is a start.
In my book, Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad, I concentrated on collecting the stories passed on to me by my family.
It is the mostly true tale of life as experienced by my mother, including the tales passed on by her family.
I was fortunate enough to have heard many of these from my grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
They are made more precious by the illustrations my mother, Kathleen Holdaway Swain crafted for this work.
It is such a joy for me to see these stories and lovely art come to life.
She is now eighty-eight years old, in the prime of her life.
It is my gift to her.