Discover more from Take Back the Magic
The Stories We Tell, The Stories We Leave Behind
(leaving a legacy of magic)
Uncle Bert was the uncle who rescued my grandfather and his brother. The boys had lost their father when they were young and there was not enough money for both of them to go to college. Legend has it that they flipped a coin. One brother would go to college. One would work to support the family. But then Bert stepped in and told them that not only was he paying for both of them to go to college, he was going to support their mother and sister as well. All would be well. Bert made it happen.
My grandfather died long before I was born. He was a Rhodes Scholar and he and his brother founded a successful law firm that endured even after his untimely death from cancer. Bert died before my mother was born, just after WWI and long before he saw both boys become the successes he had ensured.
But his story did not die.
The good uncle became a myth, a trope, a legend in our family. My grandfather's sister would marry a man who saw it as his duty, inspired by Bert, to be a good uncle as well as a good father. My own uncle would be a good uncle to my brother--and to me from the land of the dead. My own husband knew the story of Bert and the story and the inspiration of the good uncle endures in our family.
But of Bert himself? I never knew or heard another story about him.
One night a few years ago I hopped on ancestry.com and started doing a little sleuthing. Who was this guy? When had he lived? What else had he done? WHat did need to know? Imagine my surprise to read his obituary and discover he was the President of the Bank of America. A "confirmed bachelor" he died in the South of France. Was he gay I wondered? Maybe. Was he a "success"? Most certainly. But none of the salient details in his obituary, none of his many practical achievements had endured through the generations. He was remembered, honored, for a single act of generosity and not a particularly difficult one. He certainly had the means. But still. It mattered.
It was the Story He Left Behind.
The saints, too, are remembered often for a single gesture. Anthony finds things. Jude's who you call when you are desperate. Lucy will fix your eyes and Peregrine your cancer. Christopher will keep you safe in your car. Many of these saints are "apocryphal," meaning who they really were has vanished in the eons of time. But there stories endure through the ages. Follow back St. Christopher to a giant with a dog’s head in the middle ages and it will take you back to Anubis with his jackal’s head guiding souls back and forth across eternity. He is the protector not just of our bodies in cars, but our souls in the “vehicles” of our bodies.
More than geneologies, more than record-keeping, certainly better than wills and legacies, it is stories that help us endure. Stories make a difference. What are the stories that endure in your family? What are the stories you tell and re-tell about people who are gone? Are you a memory keeper? Who are your memory keepers?
What story will be told about YOU after you are gone?
There are always a few people who become impatient that I tell “so many stories” in my classes. I don’t offer ten steps or 12 levels or a systemetic grid or an outline. Just stories. But stories shift the world. Stories re-arrange our belief-sphere.
That is why once a month I invite people to join me to tell THEIR stories about their conversations with the unseen world, to share the miracles they have experienced thanks to the dead, and to help me midwife, story by story, magic back into the world.
This Zoom Conversation is available to my paid Substack subscribers. In addition to receive the Zoom Link (on Sunday morning), you will also receive writing that is part of the very latest books I am working on. You get to see it first. So I invite you to join my paid substack….to join the storytelling adventure! Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow!
My book is now available as of this week…on Kindle, Audible, and old-fashioned hardbound paper.