I have a friend -- named --Terry whom I have know since 1977. One of the things I appreciate about knowing someone so long is that I know, or I am familiar with, all the main characters of her life. One such character was her mother, Ann. Ann revealed what a remarkable story-teller she was while lounging poolside in her backyard. I have memories of Ann holding court with her daughters and me serving as ladies-in-waiting. Ann’s three daughters could be found stretched out on towels while she would be slightly elevated on a low-slung folding tubular chair. I would be in the pool on a float, occasionally basting myself with pool water and keeping anchor with one finger hooked over the lip of the pool. Ann was a quick study of character and, with a skill that I admired, understood the motivation of players in almost any scenario. She also listened closely and asked astute, incisive questions. As the years passed, Ann was faced with many medical challenges that ultimately claimed her. In her later years, she lost her edge. Ann’s ability to read a situation and understand what was going on behind the curtain was tempered. I miss it
Ann’s daughter, Terry, only comes to the area about twice a year. For me, it is an exceptional treat. She sat beside and we talked for two hours without a break. Terry was in the middle of telling me a story about ninety-year old step-grandmother’s use of alarm clocks to regulate her day when I saw something familiar. it was the intensity and clarity I used to see in her mother’s face when she told a story.
At that moment, I realized that Ann’s astuteness was passed down to Terry. She shares the kind of interest, investment and insight that her mother brought to story-telling. As is my habit, one thought often leads to another. This time, my thoughts were galloping.
It occured to me that women’s friendships are, in good measure, based on our story-telling ability. We tell stories about our children, our husbands, our parents, our friends and bosses. Women tell a story about their trip downtown to buy lightbulbs. They create an engaging tale to relate information about anything to do with their lives, their feelings and their dreams. There are innumerable studies demonstrating that men and women have different thought processes. Using the powers of simple observation, I can see that woman share their lives in a very different way than women do. Our ability to dissect, articulate and evaluate our life experiences allow us to better understand them.
Women, gather around. Share your stories over the grocery cart, across a board room table, lying in the sun, going for a walk, while making dinner or doing anything that
you love to do. Ann told stories as well as she listened to them. She looked for patterns and meaning in what she heard. Our strength as women comes from doing just what Ann did instinctively for years. Just ask Terry.