A New Way to Tell A Story

In Greek mythology, Clio, the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory), is the Muse who inspires history.

I had to think about that for a moment.  The union of the most powerful deity and memory produced history.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Doesn’t our history come before and thereby create what we remember?

My three-legged Australian shepherd, Pancho, is a certified therapy dog.  Every week, I take him to the Clyde V. Lassen Veteran’s Nursing Home near my home in St. Augustine, Florida.  We started visiting last November, and on our very first visit, almost every person we talked to asked how Pancho lost a leg.

On our second visit, almost every person we talked to asked how Pancho lost a leg. And they’re still asking.  It happens every week.

At first, I told the story of how he jumped out of the back of a pickup truck as a puppy and crushed his left hip. In fact, if Pancho had a Milk-Bone for every time he’s heard that story, we’d never have to buy dogfood again. But after a few months, I started throwing crazy new stories at some of the guys just to see how they would react.

To date, Pancho has lost that limb as a result of wrestling an alligator, jumping in between me and a giant rattlesnake, a shark attack, a surfing accident, and chewing it off to get himself out of a trap.

They aren’t much impressed by tales of Pancho’s heroism.  Maybe because they’re heroes in their own right.  All I know is that one old guy who I like to call Mr. Frisky will look at Pancho and ask what happened to him.  Then he unfailingly says, “That dog loves you, doesn’t he?”  Before I can affirm that my dog does, indeed, love me, Mr. Frisky will grab at me inappropriately and say, “I love these right here.”  And my heroic dog who loves me doesn’t so much as lift his ears or cock his head.  He just looks at me as if to say, “You’re a big girl.  You can handle this one yourself.”

One day, Pancho and I were standing in front of about twenty old guys who were playing a rambunctious game of wheelchair beach volleyball.  During a lull in the action, one old guy called out, “Hey, where’s that dog’s other leg?”

I yelled back, “He said he didn’t need it.”

On the very front row of the volleyball game was a man who has lost a leg.  I looked at him to gauge his reaction.  He threw back his head and roared.  The whole crowd started laughing, and the man who’d asked the question said, “That’s great!”

I’m not so sure any more that the old guys forget Pancho’s story every week.  Maybe they just get that who we are today is a product of the stories we told ourselves yesterday.  I’m not talking about lying about the past.  I’m just saying that the way we choose to process our memories is God’s way of allowing us to transform both the present and the future.

Translate this post