Spending time with my aging father recently has made me acutely aware of the power of memories and the comfort they can bring. My father has lost many of his friends, all of his brothers, and his two remaining sisters are in poor health. When we visit, he reminisces about the days gone by.
He pulls out worn, yellowed photos of relatives from the early 1900s and tells their stories over and over and over again. I listen with awe, and marvel at the comfort these memories give him. I donít have the heart to tell him he shared the same photos, the same stories, the last time we met.
I remember these stories and am certain to share them so that the people will not be forgotten. Lessons can be learned.
He talks of a different time. A time when they walked or rode horses to visit neighbors and relatives. A time when the fields were plowed with horses, not tractors. No wonder he can't understand the Internet Superhighway.
Experiencing this has made me think. How amazing that those photos were so well preserved for all those years. They have been cherished and protected. It reminds me that I need to be more careful with the photos I have taken over the years. I need to tell the stories. I need to take time to make good memories.
In todayís world, it's so difficult to achieve a work/life balance. Although work and responsibility are very important, so is adventure and enjoying some downtime. I am once again reminded that people are more important than things, and that we need to take time to make precious memories with those we love, so we can one day share the photos and tell the stories over and over again.
I also think of the many stories my oncology patients and families have shared with me. It's very enlightening to learn about the lives they have lived. Imagine my surprise when a 75-year-old woman shared with me her days as a motorcycle mama! Her life took many different twists and turns.
It also reminds me that I need to encourage patients to share their stories with their loved ones, to create memories that will live on forever. Patients are often so consumed by the cancer and its treatments, that it's easy to forget who they really are. Storytelling allows them to validate their lives and become "human" again.
What has been your experience with storytelling? Have you discovered something unique about a patient that led you to think differently of them?