Ever since I started working with Frank Kingman at the San Francisco StoryBooth, I couldn’t wait to hear some of his stories. He claims he has none, then whips out a tale about working on the railroad and earning the nickname ‘iron man’ because he would do the most difficult and most hated jobs. This sort of detail changes the way you think about a spry 63-year-old who does yoga and brings you bags of delicious peaches from a friend’s orchard.
The opportunity arose to hear more from Frank when he brought his niece, Jo, into the StoryBooth. Frank and Jo spoke honestly about regrets and second chances in life. Frank told Jo that having her in his life is a ‘wonderful gift.’ The love and understanding he and his niece explored during that 40 minutes was a beautiful thing to witness. It strongly reinforced why it is so incredibly important to sit down with the people you love and have a conversation.
I can only say how honored I felt to be a part of it and to have an opportunity to know my colleague and friend better.
Here are some thoughts from Frank:
The tables were turned when I recently moved from one side of the StoryCorps booth to the other, when I went from facilitator to participant with my 28 year old niece, Jo. I was surprised at how different it was to be the designated storyteller. The physical immediacy of where we were receded as our voices became the dominant reality. The soft light of the table lamp illuminated an intimate and comfortable space. Jo and I found an atmosphere of trust and acceptance that permitted us to open our hearts. Eloise, our facilitator, did a superb job of actively listening and asking helpful questions. Her participation was genuinely nurturing and helped the process of discovery and revelation
that took place.
We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome. Thank you, Eloise, and thank you, StoryCorps!