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I was getting acquainted with the wife of a colleague. She wasn’t the sort of person who warmed to people and held conversations easily, but she asked me what this story telling thing is. So I explained that it was personal anecdotes around a particular theme, and I started rattling off example themes. She said nothing until I got to the theme of “family.”

To my surprise, she immediately launched into the story of how her dad left their family when she was very young. She grew up thinking of him as a bad man, since her extended family portrayed him that way ever since he left. The trouble was the family also always told her how much she reminded them of him. She looked like him and had many of his mannerisms. In her young mind, that was an equation that summed up to “I am a bad person because I remind my family of my father, who is a bad person.”

Years passed where she had this unstated view of herself and where she had no contact with her father. She got married and had children. One day she started thinking about contacting her father, perhaps writing him a letter. She agonized over this, and in fact it was with her own children’s encouragement that she finally wrote to him. She didn’t know if she’d get a reply, or if she did, whether it would be a rejection.

But she got a welcome reply in which he wanted to connect with her, and they did. He had remarried and had a second family. In reconnecting with him, she also got to know his second wife and her half-siblings. It was, unfortunately, the last year of her father’s life, because he had a terminal illness. But she did re-establish a relationship with him before he died.

The unexpected part of this is that she grew to love her father’s second family. She now visits them often and they tell her how much she looks like him and has his mannerisms. In this family, her father is much loved, a hero, a good man. And she reminds them of him.

Story Ideas: Has something ever happened to you that caused you to see yourself differently from the role you’ve always played? Have you ever reconnected with a relative and learned to see them in a whole new light?

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