On April 30th, 2017, I had the honor of sharing the stage with a dozen other brave and honest women at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit for the Grand Finale Season of Listen To Your Mother, a national, live storytelling event. Unfortunately the budget didn’t allow for the “massive endeavor requiring thousands of woman-hours” for video, but we have pictures… and stories. The stories will live on.
You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.
― Erin Morgenstern,
The Metro Detroit show
Our first rehearsal was exciting, even though the thirteen of us were strangers (I knew only one other writer, Desiree Cooper). At the second rehearsal, it was clear to me that somehow, already, we had been changed by the act of sharing our stories. I felt each story much differently, as if my awareness had been heightened. I cried, whether the tale was sad or happy.
I noticed I wasn’t the only one, either.
Not surprisingly, I broke down half way through my reading, and could barely finish reading my piece about the guilt and shame of losing a son to suicide. I remember looking through tears over to our co-producers, wishing they might rescue me, maybe even take the paper from my hand and finish for me. Instead, Angela assured me I was doing just fine. I honestly don’t know how I managed to find the strength to finish.
The act of telling the story aloud on stage profoundly changed me. I owned my story and my grief. And it was all right.
Storytelling is what connects us to our humanity. It makes the impossible possible and the unimaginable real. It links us to our past and provides a glimpse into our future. Telling and listening to stories heals us.
The members of this year’s cast stories included
- Managing the Unimaginable― a mother’s trauma delivering a stillborn daughter
- A Jewish Christmas Story― and a new lease on life a in a concentration camp as retold by the daughter of a survivor
- What Not to Say― to a single mother who lost a grown son to a hidden heart condition
- Other Than― lessons from a much older sister on mothering that become all the more poignant later in life
- First Response― the different voices of women who had abortions
- He Will Say Whatever He Damn Pleases― the challenge of parenting an autistic child who swears like a trucker
- Are You My Mother?― the precious moment when a mother with Alzheimer’s recognizes her daughter on her birthday
- Derek’s Black Hill Spruce― how nature helps a mother cope with losing a son to suicide
- Baby Mama Drama― a young, single woman on raising her neighbor’s neglected teenage daughter
- An Unexpected Love Story― the joy of seeing a young son, whose father died before he was born, bond with his stepdad
- Motherhood is Messy ― the crazy, funny and exasperating moments of life with three kids
- Leaving for Las Vegas― planning a much needed vacation away from children
- It’s Complicated― teaching kids to deal with a contrary grandmother who doesn’t often set the best example
On stage, each of us soared. The emotions involved in sharing our stories was palpable. Each of us felt the audience was with us, holding us up, cheering us on, laughing, crying, accepting and forgiving. It was an experience I will never forget.
No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth. ~ Martha Beck
My gratitude and love goes out to cast members Kaye Byrd, Jaycee Kemp, Desiree Cooper, Audra Dye, Ruth Ebenstein, Meg Elias, Natalie Ford, Christina Herr, Joy Mohammed, Maria Schoonover, and our co-producers/co-directors Angela Amman and Angela Youngblood.
Stay tuned — I have a movie in the works!
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
2015 Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey. Should be required reading for all wayward teenage girls, and their mothers, too.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters