Other people's stories

I tried once to get my mom to see "The Joy Luck Club" but she refused. She didn't want to see a movie about made up stories, when she had her own story that she'd lived. Every now and then, she'd tell us a little bit about her childhood, almost by accident. She'd tell us about her life during the war, how her family ate nothing but squash for weeks and were grateful, or how her aunt was killed by shrapnel while walking across the street holding my mother's hand. Most of these stories stay hidden, memories of a darker time best forgotten.

My father has no stories. He was telling me about his life growing up, and it's a collection of stories about uncles and cousins and grandparents and friends, but never about himself. None of it is witnessed or experienced. None of it is substantial. It's more rumor than history. And so it's hard to take my father's stories seriously, because it reads like fiction.

And I think this difference is what cuts at me sometimes, because it's advice without even experience behind it, and what is that worth?

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