My Nan has been telling me for years that I need to write a book about our family. She keeps saying that when she is gone all of the stories she has will go with her. I know most of these stories. They are the ones that come out a most family events. I always joke that we would have to classify the book as fiction, because no one is going to believe that all of these tales are actually true.
Even if people did believe these stories, would they really care? Would other people laugh at the fact that my Pop slept on a verandah because that was the only place left to sleep. Or that they had to close the verandah in with chicken wire because he was a sleep-walker and he kept trying to climb over the rail. I love that story, and I know its true. But does anyone else really care?
Most families have these stories. Funny injuries, strange events. Things that a funny to our family, may just be boring compared to other people’s tales. Is anyone else going to laugh at the image of my mum as a child running down the beach screaming because my aunty was washed out of the rock pool in her float ring? Or at the image of my pregnant Nan being carried across a main road with her bare bum swinging in the wind because the ambulance crashed on the way to the hospital?
When is a story no longer funny? How bad does the injury have to be before it’s a bad story? Who is to say that my family isn’t just crazy with a warped sense of humor. Some of the stories about me are funny now, but they weren’t funny at the time. Maybe when the person/people involved can look back and see the funny side it means its ok to joke about. Maybe you can laugh at part of a story while still being shocked at the other part.
When I was a child my Dad took my sister and I to the park. I wanted so badly to ride on the tire swing. My Dad put me in and left me to swing. I was in charge of watching my sister playing on the grass while he went to talk to his Pop. Now Tilly was well-behaved so I wasnt worried. Until I saw her talking to a magpie. I went to get out of the swing to get her away from the bird, but I couldn’t get out. I was stuck in the tire swing. The magpie took to the air and started swooping. I started to scream, Tilly who had now been pecked twice started to scream. The only problem was my Dad thought I was screaming because I was stuck so he didn’t hurry over. By the time He got to me, I was crying and bruised from trying to get out of the stupid swing. Tilly on the other hand was screaming, crying and bleeding.
When we look back at this day we laugh and cringe at the same time. The image of me as a chubby girl trying to get off a tire swing is funny. The image of Tilly getting attacked my the magpie makes us cringe. By now magpie has been added to Tilly’s nick name. Maggie Magpie. But does this story and the fact that we laugh at my struggle because I wasnt hurt make my family insane? Does adding magpie to Tilly’s name make us mean? Does anyone really care about a large, loud, crazy Australian family and it’s even crazier stories.
I guess the answer is you can’t know until you give it ago. I didn’t know I hated tire swings until that fateful day. And I guess we wont know if our stories are worth telling until we start telling them.