We true-life storytellers are likely to hit a snag at some point for any number of reasons. Maybe events of the story we want to tell happened very long ago. Mimi Beardsley Alford wrote Once Upon a Secret, about her 18-month affair as a White House intern with John F. Kennedy fifty years later.
Possibly a story we want to tell involves an injury or illness that left us with memory gaps because we were highly medicated or unconscious for a period. Dr. Eben Alexander supports the account of his NDE in Proof of Heaven with the experience of family members while he was comatose.
Perhaps we were absent for some reason at the time the event(s) that impacted our life occurred. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lucinda Franks shares her discovery that her father had been a World War II spy after Alzheimer’s struck him in My Father’s Secret War: A Memoir.
Can you tell true stories despite having no, few or time-impaired memories of the events as they actually occurred? Can stories plagued by these be deemed reliable? While there may be a million reasons to affirm such stories, one man stands out this Christmas season as a prime example.
Among the earliest, and certainly among the most credible of true-life tale tellers, is Luke. Luke is thought by many early and church historians to be the author of two New Testament books of the Bible, Luke and Acts. In the second chapter of Luke, he tells what is many people’s favorite version of the birth of Jesus. Was Luke there for the event? No. He found out about it based on careful investigation of eyewitness accounts. Was Luke’s version accepted? It must have been because he mentions it at the beginning of his second book, Acts. (What a great example of first century book marketing!!!) And, maybe even more important, the gospel of Luke remains widely accepted today as one of the sixty-six books of the Bible.
If memory of events is absent or “iffy” because of time, incapacitation or absence, we can take inspiration from Luke. We can look into the events through the eyes of those who were there like family, friends, neighbors.
I inadvertently tested this out recently. In November, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Practically everyone who was alive on that horrific day remembers where they were when they heard the horrifying news that the president had been shot in Dallas.
As I finished watching As It Happened: JFK 50 Years on TV, I posted on Facebook that when I heard the news, I was in Mrs. Whittington’s 6th grade classroom at Oaklawn Elementary and asked others if they were alive then if they remembered where they were. The response was larger than normal and included comments by others that were in my class.
One friend messaged me to remind me that our basement room had no loud speaker, so the information was delivered live. Another messaged me asking if I remembered going to her birthday party at her home that night. While I remember the party and a photo taken at it, I don’t in any way connect the party with Kennedy’s death.
Because of that Facebook post, I now have new details based on the eyewitness experience of others that enrich my memory of that day. Reach out to eyewitness to fill out your stories!