Ever sit and listen to someone tell a story and you recreate the entire scene in your head. I, for one, get great joy out of it and I had the best movies playing out in my head when I listened to Grandaddy tell us a story from his past! A year ago, I had the pleasure of revisiting a moment in his life that he never forgot. As I walked through the streets of Greensboro, stood at the doors of the jailhouse where he was imprisoned and gazed at his mugshot picture, I am sure I could have won an Oscar for the movie I had going on inside my head! Such a real moment that was for me, almost as if I had gone back in time to be with him at that exact moment!
A year ago, I would never have thought that would be the last time those stories would forcefully impact my life. No more hearing a powerfully strong voice to narrate every moment and feeling of the main characters. No more hearty laughs when he couldn’t remember a specific point in the story. No more wondering if certain parts were true and others not so much and no more seeing the genuine feelings on his face as he revisited the emotions drawn out from that particular event.
A short conversation with my co-worker, Reggie, about his life in Mississippi gave the film reel in my head a good cranking. I immediately dove right into his life as I tried to picture every emotion, smell and sight of what life was like for him “back in the day.” Surprisingly, that brought me right back to the stories I had longed to hear over the past year. Stories that I genuinely missed. I could see the wrinkles in Grandaddy’s face as he sat frustrated and scared in a jail cell. I could hear the anger in his voice as he stood face to face with someone who could’ve had him killed with the snap of his fingers. I could smell the stench of the grimy jail cell they locked him in.
Today I reflect on the stories Grandaddy told me about his past. I reflect on the love that was shared between us as he told the stories. I reflect on the courage that filled him while creating these stories. And, I now marvel over the profound and lasting impact these stories have on me. He is gone, but I have Grandaddy’s stories in my heart and the imaginary play by play reactions in my head. Most importantly, I have a greater appreciation for my life and making sure that I too have a story to leave behind for a creative little mind to wonder about.
Traneita Gilmore was born and raised in Birmingham and currently resides in New Orleans. Her desire is to push the younger generation to the next level by pouring into their lives as a mentor. In her free time, she loves to sit at the lake and journal, laugh & take naps. Her motto is: “Your life is your message to the world so make it inspiring.”