Get a second or third pint of Guinness into my father and you’re bound to hear an incredible story or two.
Possibly a traditional Irish song in which the British empire isn’t painted in a great light too, if you’re lucky.
Even though I’ve heard many of the tales repeated, at least a couple times a year he’s able to surprise me with a new one that I’ve never heard before.
As a lover of stories, particularly those that are well told, they always delight me.
So, for Christmas this year I bought my dad a subscription to a service where each week he responds to a question about his life.
At the end of 52 weeks all of the answers will be put together into a hard copy book, so his grandkids, and great-grandkids will be able to read about his many exploits.
So far the results have exceeded my expectations. He’s taken to the task with gusto, and I’ve taken great pleasure in reading some of the stories I’ve only ever heard exchanged over the dinner table.
Brand new insights into my dad’s early life have been incredible to receive. I had to loop my siblings in on his responses at some point to see if they knew of the tidbits being shared.
I’ve enjoyed reading them out loud in bed to my wife, and we both have a good laugh at the funny parts.
There are the classics, like when he re-rolled the ends of tossed cigarettes and started a tobacco reselling business in Limerick before the age of ten, and some big surprises, like an accidental visit to a brothel while on his first work trip in Norway. There have also been heartwarming entries where he writes about meeting my mother, and of his respect and admiration for his own mom.
The exercise has made me think of all the fantastic stories here in Campbell River which don’t survive past a generation.
There must be tens of thousands of them. A giant fish caught, a hairy trip into the wilderness which could have gone horribly wrong, an unexpected family reunion, an escape from war.
I’d like to extend the life of those local stories, so if you’re reading this, I implore you to trust me with your fantastic tale, so your great-grandkids can read about your adventures, trials and tribulations, and learn from them.