One Story kicks off with presentation about the importance of telling stories

DOWAGIAC — In the basement of the Dowagiac History Museum Saturday afternoon, surrounded by displays featuring shotguns and old newspaper clippings, Dowagiac resident Terri Moore told a story about a yellow dress.

“One time, I was sorting through photographs and came across this one of me as a child,” Moore said, recalling a memory. “I showed the picture to my mother — the picture is black and white — and she said, ‘That’s the yellow dress you were wearing the day you ran off.’”

Moore continued her story talking how she could recall the day her mother was speaking about, the tall, dry grass scratching her arms as she walked through it and the sunshine beating down on her, but she did not remember trying to run away.

“To me, that was my adventure, but to my mother, it was the day I ran off,” Moore said. “It’s interesting how people remember stories differently.”

To kick off Dowagiac’s One Story program, which features a number of events until the end of May that tie in to the books “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom and “Effie’s Image” by N.L. Sharp and the theme of connecting generations, Moore hosted an event called “Our Stories” Saturday at the history museum. The presentation focused on the importance of sharing stories between generations.

Moore hosted a presentation during last year’s One Story program that proved to one of the most popular events of the program, according to One Story organizer Kristie Bussler.

“We are happy to have her back and talking about this theme,” Bussler said.

Moore said she was compelled to host the “Our Stories” program Saturday, because after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, she would spend every Friday with her mother Arlys, collecting, organizing and labelling photographs and memories. This time would turn into Moore’s mother sharing her stories and wisdom with her, which reminded Moore of the central concept of “Tuesdays with Morrie” that tells the story of a dying professor sharing his life wisdom with a former student.

Moore said that she learned so much about her family history and even about herself from her Fridays with her mother, organizing photographs that the weekly ritual became something she looked forward to and held dear.

It was through these Fridays with her mother that Moore came to appreciate sharing stories with family members, friends and even strangers. She said that she wished she had learned the importance of telling stories sooner, so that she could have shared them and learned from her father’s stories before his Alzheimer’s Disease has progressed.

“You learn so much. There is so much wisdom his personal history,” Moore said. “We think that the old and new generations are so different, but by sharing stories, we can see that we have a lot more in common than we might think.”

Moore said she hopes that the all people in Dowagiac will also learn the importance of sharing stories and will begin to share their experiences with others.

“Sharing stories can help a community. I think of it like a CEO. A good CEO doesn’t do every job himself. He finds the best person for the job to help him,” Moore said. “Apply that to your own life. Don’t struggle. Seek out someone with experience who has talked about what you need. … We are better together. We need to share our stories.”

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