The stories of our lives

Three and a half years ago, my mother decided to move to Huntcliff Summit, an independent living facility in Atlanta.  She didn’t ask permission from my brother, sister or me.  She had already visited several facilities and made her decision.  She selected a delightful place with even more delightful residents.  The decision was hers to make and she made it on her own terms.   Some things never change.
This past week I had the opportunity to speak to the residents of this rather large facility.  It seems that my mother started sharing my columns with some of her friends a couple of years ago.  Over time, the number of copies distributed grew larger and larger.  Today, Huntcliff prints the column not only for all the residents, but also for the staff that might be interested.
When asked what they wanted me to speak about, they wanted to know where I find the information for my columns.  It was an interesting question for me as I approach 400 columns.  I have come to believe that the information for a story is all around us, part of the fabric of our lives.  You just have to keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you.
I shared the source of many of my own stories along with pictures that illustrated my memories.  Every one of the pictures reflected a story in my life and a column I had written.  
An obvious source for your stories is your own family.  What a rich source of material they have been for me.  You add the relationship I have had with my brother and sister and there is an entirely new section.
The family then expands to the grandparents I enjoyed for 40 years of my life, my marriage and the life Mary Lou and I have shared for 38 years, the children we adore, and now our grandchildren that can provide a new story every time I see them.  This does not even begin to touch the many cousins, nephews, and nieces with whom I share mutual memories.
Old stories are often the result of where we grew up as children.  In my case, it was the small town of Cottonwood, Alabama.   How do you get in trouble when you worked all day in a watermelon field?  I had no idea what a perfect place it was to grow up in until decades later.
There is the story of Compass Lake, which is already familiar to anyone reading my columns over the years.  My family has enjoyed this beautiful spring fed lake for seven generations.  It is the common core for my extended family that has spread across the country over the years.
There is the story of my adopted hometown of Donalsonville.   Telling my father I wouldn’t live here more than five years,  I will celebrate 40 years of calling this small city home this coming August.  The scrapbook of my life is filled with stories of my time here.    
There are also stories of politics and Hardee’s and travel.  The list goes on and on about the things I could write about and the stories I could tell.  They are fleshed out and made more meaningful by the many friends and supporters I have had along the way.  If you are still reading this, then please know that I am talking about you.
Life is a journey.  My mother moved from the beach to Atlanta on her own accord.  It was a new chapter in her life.  She embraced her new life and made new and wonderful friends.  I have met many of these neighbors of hers and am proud to call many my friends.
Which brings me to the final point of this particular story.  There is no better way to enjoy our current life than sharing it with friends.   There is no better way to reflect on the many good events of the past than to draw on the memories and experiences we had with our friends.  There is no better way to sustain a good life than to make new friends and enjoy new experiences together.
I could write a dozen articles about the people I have met at Huntcliff.  Let me just say that I rejoice in the happiness my Mother has amongst her many friends in this place.  These friendships are blessings for her and hopefully a blessing for them.    
Following my presentation, many residents came up to me to share some similar story from their own past.  No matter our age or where we are from, we often share the same stories in our lives.
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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