Kraemer Family Library Storytelling Contest describes importance of family

Oct. 5, 2015

Maria O’Connell performs at the storytelling contest.
April Wefler | The Scribe

April Wefler
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In elementary school, when you’re asked to write about who inspires you, the answer is usually a parent or sibling. As you grow older and start to distance yourself from your parents that answer changes.

Past adolescence, the answer can become your parents or grandparents again, as was shown in the stories of the Kraemer Family Library Storytelling Contest.

The library held its third annual storytelling contest on Sept. 25 in Clyde’s as part of Intergeneration Month.

Students, faculty, staff and the community were invited to write stories about family members that inspired them and read their stories aloud to possibly win a cash prize.

Eight people participated and their inspiring stories resulted in a night of entertainment, laughter and tears.

Elisa Orrill was first to present, regaling the audience with tales of coming out to her Asian mom, her mom’s reaction to her first period and living with her mom in general.

“I told her I had a 92 percent in gym class; she said that wasn’t good enough,” said Orrill, a freshman business major.

“My name’s Elisa. I’m a homosexual, fertile person who’s worn her mother’s thong,” she closed.

Charles MacGregor, senior psychology major, won first place – $500. He told of the last conversation he had with his grandfather, an Alzheimer’s patient.

MacGregor said he watched as his grandfather turned into a different person and a “vegetable.”

His grandfather came out of it the same day he died, and asked for a beer. Then, he told MacGregor something he said stuck with him, which he repeated at the storytelling contest.

“‘Charles, never forget to smile because smiling can get you through the darkest days.’”

MacGregor is an avid reader who loves telling stories.

“I saw [the event] on Mountain Lion Connect and everyone’s told me that I am a great storyteller, so I decided why not, 500 bucks,” he said.

Second place and $300 went to Maria O’Connell, academic advisor. O’Connell talked about three generations of strong females in her family.

O’Connell, originally from Ecuador, said it wasn’t easy to learn a new language or get used to a new culture. But because of the women in her family, she managed to obtain a bachelor’s and a master’s in social work.

“As I get older, I just know the importance of leaving [my story] behind for future generations. These women are a huge part of my life. I just thought this would be a really good place to pay them tribute,” she said.

William Mecham took third place and $100 with his story about trying to corral a Brahman bull with his father and grandfather. They succeeded, but the bull died of a heart attack from being tased twice.

“We fought hard, but ultimately we lost the battle. Life is gonna come at you…do you give up? No, you fight,” Mecham said.

Other stories included surviving the Waldo Canyon fire with a house intact and learning what really matters, a father who went off to war many times and is still living, experiencing the Aspen Slide and fishing with grandpa.

Messages of the stories ranged from “Some things are replaceable. Your family isn’t one of them” and “you have to grab on to life” to “we fight for one another” and “don’t mess with mama bear.”

“I think it’s just really important to get people’s stories through any way we can. I think it’s something we’re losing,” O’Connell said.