My storyteller

Posted by I'm the penguin | Posted in | Posted on Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Throughout my life I had always heard of him, a lot. I had even met him, but I was too young when he died so I can't really remember. I always heard about his severity, his bad humor, his hight, about how much he was like me... physically speaking. But I had also heard about how much he helped people in his life, how he built hospitals and energy plants all over the country. He was also brilliant, he was part of this international engineering association and had once considered to study physics, of course he was ahead of his time.

I had heard so much about his greatness, a person who spoke about him was a person that referred to him with the out most respect. He was this kind of stoic hero everyone felt respect for but truly deeply loved.

I had also heard about his vices, with the booze and women, and more women. Uncountable stories of his drinking and how much of a party beast he was. He was legendary, even in his 60s the youth would think twice before partying with him of how wild did it turned (in the good way) (and the bad one too).

I knew as well about the biggest of all his weaknesses, women. And all the womanizing, and families he had, yes plural for that. He just couldn't keep his business together around the ladies, and given the player he was there was a lot of stories to be told of that, and of course the many many drama that comes along with this sort of cases. Grandma suffered much. He did too.

And up until tonight he was just this character that was part of my history but had very little to do with me, other than the physical traits and some of the intellect. I had been told he liked me a lot because of these two last things, but other than that he was just a dead relative who was a legend, even if that is not so common, he was still not close.

But then I heard other stories about him, stories about story-telling.

These were completely new, I had no idea of this before. It started with this people who are said to be very close to me but most of the time feel like strangers. This guys drift a lot about topics and always end up talking about him, my grandfather. But this time they were talking about how he told the stories of his life, and that later they had found out most of them were lies. "Mythomaniac" was a word used, of course with respect but still, they mentioned a diseased. I disagreed.

My grandfather had once a cyst in his back, and had it removed by his son (the physician), leaving a big hole in his back, a scar. Years later he was speaking to a group of people and he said he had landed in Normandy along with the U.S armies, and had fought in the war. Being the serious man he was, everybody believed him, because he showed a bullet mark left on his back. He had received a shot while being splashed with a fellow's blood in his face, then he had grabbed an automatic gun and killed many enemies.Everyone was very impressed, but his grandson (not me) who had seen four years earlier how that mark was being done by surgical material. He was not ever senile or hallucinating, he did told those stories fully conscious.

Then all the strangers in the room started speaking about all the stories that they had later found to be only that, stories. Then he was compared with the movie The Big Fish. That moment changed my perception of him, and probably of life as I know it.

He was a story teller. Not just some crazy drunk telling stories, like it was slightly suggested. He had invented this fantastic world of stories, and he wasn't even entertaining people, they were for himself. That changed it all, he was not dead hero who I was supposed to praise, he was my grandfather, the story teller. Then one more comment did it for me:

"He was magnificent, even if he was dry and all, he was magnificent"

The comment meant that he was not very much into showing people what he felt, he appeared stoic because he was not in touch. He lived in a cuirasse, but not because of lack or trust or any sort of stupid psychological explanation, he was just like that. And he was magnificent.

That along with the story telling almost made tears come to my eyes, but then again I'm dry. The thought of this made me laugh. And it felt so great, like I was at peace, because for once I had been able to link completely with this long gone hero. He was part of me, and I hadn't even met him properly, he was like me, he would have understand it, he would have got it. And so, for once in that table in Christmas time, I actually felt like part of them, no longer strangers, but family. Because if all we shared was my grandfather, and he was this amazing hero, character and person, then we couldn't be all that different.

That's how I met my grandfather the story teller, and I finally understood why he was seen so differently by so many people. How even if the image of the shiny hero preserved, he was remembered differently according. But most important, I felt that thing where you know your roots, where you feel identified with your past. For once I understood all that crap about connecting with the past to know the present. And even if life laws are never bent and I never get to know him, this feeling of closeness and bonding will most definitely never go away.

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