We sat, my brother, my dad and me, in my mom’s hospital room. Telling stories. That’s what you do in the hospital.
My mom talks of how she can’t deal with numbers. A familiar mom story.
My brother responds with his story of the Yogi Bear bank designated for the money he could spend on candy and toys. And his Fred Flintstone bank that was for long term savings. He said he learned this from my mom. That her modeling of spreadsheets of the family’s budget set this up for him. I don’t doubt it. I remember those ledgers This is my brother’s narrative. The story of how my mom taught him to be wise with money. It isn’t surprising he turned out to be an accountant.
My story is different. My mom was a reader and a writer. I hold memories of the library bookshelf. Books stacked on side tables. The need for a good reading light. My parents sitting in the living room reading. I hold memories of her typewriter. Of legal writing pads. Lists of names. Research. Reams of paper in boxes. My story is how my mom taught me to be literate. Money didn’t attract me. Words did. My story. One that fueled my desire to be a reader and a writer.
If we had other siblings, I wonder what their stories would be. Nature and nurture. We come into this world and absorb our environment. What sticks tends to be compatible with our strengths. It feels chemical.
Our narratives intertwine with the people who influence us. Our loved ones, our teachers, our friends. The bonds attach and new molecules form.
I’m lucky. To be near my parents. They are lucky. To have each other. Long lives together.
They Sit Together on the Porch
by Wendell Berry