March 23, 2015

The New Sunday Dinner

My uncle was the best storyteller. He’d regale us with Sunday Dinner Stories of his Mama Sara and growing up in Tennessee. Sometimes, it’d just be pure fictional silliness, like the time his frenemy “Blue” had enough of his teasing and bashed his head in with a brick. He was a master of hyperbole and comedy. Somehow, we all ended up in stitches over his stitches.

Other times, my great aunt, a Jehovah’s Witness, would join us after a Kingdom Hall Sunday meeting. Inevitably the doorbell would ring with Jehovah’s Witnesses witnessing. On my way to answering the door, I’d tell my mom “It’s Jehovah’s Witnesses” and just as I’d open the door, my mom would yell “Tell ‘em we got one already!” I’d die a slow embarrassing death looking into the innocent eyes of the witnesses while everyone at the table laughed. Including my great aunt.

After dinner, we’d end up in the living room around the upright Mason piano adorned with our baby pictures and miscellaneous sheet music. My uncle plunked out songs, and my sister led the singing with her soaring soprano. My brothers, mom, dad (on a good day) and me -  ears plugged so I could sing harmony without straying onto the melody -- would join in the chorus.

I never realized I missed those stories, the singing and that time until today. I’m co-producing Milwaukee’s Listen to Your Mother Show, and our rehearsals are, ironically, on Sunday. The cast is seated at a table, not for dinner, but to tell their stories, have their stories be heard, and to bear witness to each other’s stories.

Photo: Alexandra Rosas

Like back in the day of the after church dinners, the Jehovah’s Witness doorbell still rings, but instead of the doorbells, it’s drills and out-of-doors construction; a kindergartner's loud-whisper; a new baby’s coo-singing, and our irrepressible sniffles and giggles in response to each other’s stories and all of the above.

It’s really what my family was doing all those years ago. I just didn't have a clue that that’s what we were doing nor did I have a name for it. I don’t know if I have a name for it now, to tell you the truth.

What I do know is that life is just a narrative that feeds the soul in one way or the other, just like the stories around our Sunday dinner table. Listen to Your Mother is a chance to counter the harsh, frightening narratives of news outlets that feed isolation and hopelessness.

Today, I heard funny, hopeful, sad, joyful, tragic and longing narratives that fed community and togetherness. It was like having Sunday dinner all over again.

And I was hungry for it.



Hungry for something good too? Click here to find a Listen to Your Mother Show in your area.

8 comments:

  1. I love this. Thank you for all you give LTYM, Rochelle. You're a gem.

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    1. Thank you, Ann. I'm just grateful to be a small part of it.
      LTYM feeds my soul.

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    1. Thank you, Nicole...and thank you for YOUR story.

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  3. So proud to have you as part of LTYM MKE, Rochelle.

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    1. Tickled absolutely pink that I can be along for the wonderful ride, Alexandra.
      xo

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  4. "What I do know is that life is just a narrative that feeds the soul in one way or the other, just like the stories around our Sunday dinner table. Listen to Your Mother is a chance to counter the harsh, frightening narratives of news outlets that feed isolation and hopelessness."

    Fabulous.

    Ima LTYMnash Inaugural Performance Alum, 2014

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    1. Thanks, Leisa...what a wonderful a perk of being a part of this LTYM Sisterhood/Brotherhood.

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