Every Human Story

Wisdom Culled from a Family Brunch

—there are so many of them in the world…everyone has one.

I guess I first realized that while attending a college run by the Marianist religious order . They like to help everyone realize that we all have our own story. So I started wondering about my story and where it will end. After all, I only know it up to chapter 26, and how many total chapters there will be I have no idea.

The great gathering
I just finished attending “the Easter brunch,” an
annual gathering of relatives from my father’s side of the family
. My trip home was a whirlwind tour—”Joe a palooza” as I described it to my sister.

I have eight siblings and more cousins than I can count. We are a crazy, huge family. There are always babies and kids running around. If there were a study to be done on fertility, my family would need to be included as an example family on the high end of the chart. We know how to pump out children. Yet my mom’s labor with me (her ninth child) only lasted a little over an hour. It takes her longer to cook dinner than it did to have a baby.

Back to the stories. I heard many of them in the few hours that I was at the Easter brunch.

Story selections
My cousin is starting an agency for people to learn how to advocate for themselves in the healthcare system. Her husband died of cancer, her mother almost did (but has now lived five years cancer-free), and she as a nurse has become very knowledgeable about how to make one’s way through the maze of health systems, insurance, hospitals. So she has decided to share that information with those who are feeling flustered in their own personal health crises.

My niece is studying marketing and just got back from her spring break in Spain. Who knows where she’ll end up and what future chapters hold for her. My other niece informed me she wants to go to art school. My sister just showed me her first painting, and I was impressed. It has a sort of Picasso flair. This was after she made a beef brisket for all of us, and impressed us with her creative juices. Her story is taking a creative leap forward.

Some in my family are struggling with marital discord—and their stories are in the chapters that one wishes they could skip and get on to the good endings.

My retired father has been remodeling a kitchen in our cabin, just about an hour away from St. Louis, and is contemplating where to take his entire family for a reunion. So far we have gotten votes for California, Ireland, and France. His story will be undergoing a change of setting.

Hometown wisdom
One thing that I noticed while in St. Louis is that I heard more about people’s stories in a few minutes than I can get out of some of my high-powered DC friends in months. We from “The Lou” (as our hometown rapper Nelly calls it) may or may not be as worldly as people in other cities, but we can make it real when it comes to conversation.

Instead of trying to impress you with our business cards and resumes, we try to find out things that we have in common. We try to make friends. Of course, not everyone agrees on everything, but I have learned after growing up in St. Louis that everyone has something in common.

The other stories…
And that is something that is a truly beautiful thing to ponder when you consider the current global situation. While in the airport, I just saw on CNN that children in Iraq are dying because they are playing with some of the explosive small parts of weapons that are being left behind after our war.

Some people say that “in some situations there are the innocent who must be sacrificed for the greater good.”

But I am sure those children had stories too. I guess now we’ll never know.