Herstory

I am sitting in a local Thai restaurant waiting to order my noon meal. At the table next to me, three women converse about family history. The grandmother leads most of the exchange with talk of World War II and how different family members were affected. Then the story goes back another generation and weaves together a narrative about how the great-grandparents met. The three share experiences of past religious differences and family dynamics that bring these three generations closer together over some Pad Thai.

The next layer of reflections involves the great-great grandparents and memories of their farm. The grandmother talks about how they would wring a chicken’s neck in preparation for the evening meal. A lot of history passes the lips of the elder woman prompted by questions from daughter and granddaughter. It could be any three generations sitting here, sharing ancestral stories. I think about my family history, watching my grandma prepare a bird and seeing it run around like a chicken with its head cut off. I smile at the connection and offer a prayer for chickens everywhere.

The grandmother concludes, “So, that’s the story of my life. And you know, the funny thing is that I had a daughter that died young and my mother also had a daughter that died young. I wonder about that. Anyway, I hope I did not bore you.” There is a pregnant silence in which unexpressed feelings and unfamiliar family history converge. Inside this moment, a deep bond of love moves through the restaurant, unbeknownst to most people sitting here. It has its effect, nonetheless.

I hope we do not lose our connection with this kind of human expression where analog stories are shared without digital distractions. This is how we share love in the most profound way—experiencing the unspoken through our spoken presence—all in real time, and uploaded only to our hearts. 

(I know, the irony is not lost on me. Maybe this digital snapshot will stimulate an analog dialog.)