listen carefully.

And if you tell me the same story twice, I won’t tell you I will be nice.
Of all the stories I have heard, yours are the best that I have learned…

The Little Stevies.

More than telling my own stories, I love hearing those of others and in particular, those of my Grandparents. Maybe it’s because I’m a wannabe-novelist always searching for new inspiration, maybe it’s because I’m a proud family girl or maybe it’s just because of the girl part and my desire to remember the stories attached to all the last names that may disappear along the way to starting my own little family. I am forever grateful that my love of stories led me to listen intently to the things my mum’s parents said from a young age.

When I was really young, I would roll my eyes when Pa demanded my attention for another of his stories. Then I realised that he’s hilarious and what an interesting and intelligent man he is. Soon I started to take note of the little stories my Nan would tell as well. She doesn’t chastise me and tell me that I should respect my elders and listen, she just gets this captivating twinkle in her eye and talks and I consider myself lucky that I get to listen. I’ve soaked in their history and hold close the advice they have imparted after years of living. I would have regretted reaching 24 and not knowing the things I know from them.

I now also cherish the occasional moments that my parents reminisce with me about growing up and the broken hearts they experienced or at times may have caused, how my Mum thought my Dad’s name was Mark when they first met and how my Dad never doubted that his children would grow to be anything but the best of friends because my loving mother would raise us that way. I am extremely proud to be their daughter. They aren’t perfect humans, no one is, but they really are perfect parents.

Two of my all-time favourite movies centre around storytelling. One shows a young girl learning about love and the consequences of our decisions from a group of older ladies who tell her the stories of their greatest or most memorable loves. The other is about a Father who tells the most magical stories of his youth, making him the life of every party. He is loved by all but completely misunderstood by his realist son who longs for his dad to come back down to Earth. They are How To Make An American Quilt (1995) and Big Fish (2003).

One of those movies that will make you laugh and cry, How To Make An American Quilt reminds us that you are never too old for love, that love is never simple but can be beautiful in its complexities and that you can never truly understand someone until you know their story and the events that have made them who they are. Anyone who loves a good story and is a romantic, should see this movie.

In previous posts, I have referenced both my love for Tim Burton (director) and the fact that I possess an Ewan-McGregor-as-Christian-in-Moulin-Rouge type belief in love. Combine Burton’s amazing storytelling abilities and McGregor in the lead role as the wide-eyed dreamer Ed Bloom and how could I not fall in love with Big Fish? I adore its quirkiness and Burton’s ability to make his audience believe in magic. My favourite scene is the story of the first time Bloom meets his character’s future wife Sandra Templeton. He is working at the circus and she is a patron that he spies from across the room. He says…

They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. – Ed Bloom.

The commotion of the chaotic circus suddenly stops and time freezes, with Ed Bloom the only thing moving across the room towards Sandra. Now of course this is an exaggerated story, something that Bloom’s son Will finds hard to handle. However, true or not, I would love the story of the first time my life’s great love saw me to be told so poetically. My recommendation is to see every Burton film that has ever been made. However, if you aren’t that way inclined but do enjoy an excellent, mythical tale of adventure, then make sure you see Big Fish.

Happy Birthday to my mother today as well! I love you Mum. I think one of the first stories I’ll tell my kids is that their Nan, born on Halloween, is actually a witch! I wonder if they’ll humour me or say ‘get real Mum!’…

A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal. – Big Fish.

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