This evening John and I went to hear some world class storytellers perform at Orem’s annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. People come to this event from all over the world. Several tellers shared favorite stories this evening, out under the stars in a local outdoor amphitheater. Donald Davis is one of my favorites. He is a National Treasure–a retired Methodist minister who grew up in the Southern Appalachian mountains. I’ve attended his week-long workshops on telling and writing your own stories. He grew up in a storytelling family. I did not. But Donald has helped me and many others find the stories that are in us to pass them along.
This evening he told an amazing true story about what happened when he received an early morning phone call telling him that his father had died. Donald was 28 years old and had a brand new baby son. As he raced to get home to his mother, he realized that there were way too many stories that had not been told; too many questions that had not been asked. He was devastated at the loss.
That morning, after arranging their affairs to get home, he called his mother just before getting in the car to say they were on their way, and his father answered the phone. The early morning phone call was a wrong number intended for another Don Davis who had just moved into his small town. His father was fine. It turns out he had 23 more years with his father, who lived to be 93 years old!
Donald told us that he spent those next 23 years Asking and Telling, Asking and Telling. He mined every possible story from his father’s life, in fact, every detail about his father and uncles he shared this evening, he learned after receiving that mis-placed phone call.
He concluded his story this evening by pleading with us to ask and tell and ask and tell every single day, even if they don’t want to hear. I am more determined than ever to do just that. I may not be a good storyteller (the things I write are hardly ever spoken), but I can put things on paper, and I will. I do not want my stories to die when I go. Let’s all do our best to capture and preserve our stories and experiences, each one.