Family: The Living Story

IMG_4672 Seashells

Growing up on the Gulf Coast

By Bonita Y. McCoy

Family can make you crazy. Especially, if everyone is gathered together for a reunion or a vacation. They can make you laugh, or they can drive you to the brink of an emotional breakdown while hollering, “Hang on tight. We’re only halfway there!”

Of course, family also centers you. Anchors you to what is important in this old world like faith, doing the right thing, manners, and traditions. They connect us to the future while tying us to the past.

That’s why family is at the heart of every story, and stories are at the heart of every family.

You know the ones I mean. Those tried and true tales that are rehashed at every family reunion; the ones that live a life of their very own. They draw us close to those who have gone before us and remind us of the blood that runs through our veins. They bind us, heart and soul to who we are.

Like the time the cat ate the toothpaste, and mama thought it had rabies because it was foaming at the mouth.

Or the time my parents advertised a car for sale and a man came to test drive it, before taking it for a spin, he asked for gas money. We never saw that car or money again.

Then, there was Uncle Smokey’s snake charming; Aunt Ruby’s weekly walk to the grocery store packing a pistol. Oh, and Uncle Charlie who snapped his false teeth out with his tongue to scare us kids.  We always jumped and squealed with delight, never failing to scream, “Do it again.”

Families are like that. They have stories. They create stories.

Some of the best were told on warm summer evenings while the mullet fried, and the corn and shrimp boiled. Everyone sat in their lawn chairs as Aunt Mary corralled her poodles. Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Donald were the honored guests. They had come down from Memphis for a visit.

The older cousins had gathered earlier in the day to throw their nets into the muddy Gulf of Mexico, and everyone could smell the results of their efforts.

As the day faded into twilight, the stories would emerge, one at a time like the stars in the night sky. This one remembered; that one added to; another corrected because it hadn’t been told right.

The stories of family, connecting us.

IMG_5820 Gulf at twilight

Twilight falling on the shores

Now I have some of my own. They include the time my middle son broke his arm at Vacation Bible School by bouncing off the bouncy slide; the day my oldest son went off to the Marines, and I watched the van drive away.  And the time my youngest son made his first bucket during a basketball game. Proud didn’t begin to cover it.

The truth is in our stories, we hide bits and pieces of the deep places, the joys and sorrows; the fears and blessings. We mix them in when we say, “I sure miss him,” or “I love it when we…”.

We use them to sum up who we are, to teach others, to grow.

[Click to Tweet] Yes, family is at the heart of every story, and the best ones keep us hanging on in the passenger seat even as our loved one chauffeurs us to the brink because even in all its craziness, there is nothing like family.

So, this summer enjoy the time you have with your family, whether it’s a few folks or the whole clan and remember to share the stories that connect you. You might even have a few new ones to add like the time… Well, I’ll let you tell it.

Writing Prompt: Uncle Mike always told the best stories. His favorite was the one about the raccoon and Mama. 


Bio head shot for Inspiration Blog - 2017

Bonita Y. McCoy hails from the Great State of Alabama where she lives on a five-acre farm with two horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who she’s had for over twenty-nine years. She is a mother of three mostly grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law, one who joined the family from Japan. She loves God, and she loves to write. Her blogs and stories are an expression of both these passions.

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