His Story Might Be over but How Should I Choose to Read It?
My dad passed away nearly three months ago and I think of him when I see someone smoking. I think of him when I see someone with an artificial limb and when I see someone walking down the side of a road. I think of him when I put items in the local free pantry and when I see someone wearing clothes that are too big for their body. I think of him when I see someone coughing like crazy. I think of him when I see someone in a wheelchair.
I've seen my dad’s life as a sad story, but at the memorial service, one of my dad's close friends shared stories of my dad standing up in his wedding (thank goodness for cameras, because it is the only time I've seen him in a tux and I treasure the photo). Another friend shared stories of competing in cornhole tournaments together at the local American Legion on Friday nights. Another talked about golfing with dad – which was his absolute favorite thing to do. Now I know people tend to tell happy stories at funerals and leave the negative out, but it showed me an entirely different perspective.
In a recent NPR interview with Kate DiCamillo and Jamie Kim, author and illustrator respectively of the new picture book, La La La, Jamie discussed her fear of the reader not interpreting the illustrations the way she intended. As she continued to work on the art however, she realized that she was bringing her own perspective to the story, Kate was bringing her own perspective through her writing, and every reader would be bringing their own perspectives as well. I think the same can be said in life when we reflect on the stories of the people around us--especially those we love. I find comfort in knowing that my perspective isn't the only one.