Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 15, 2012

The Story Collector

McAllen en route to Del Rio, Texas

For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved stories. From the days when I sat spellbound as my grandmother shared stories about her childhood or listened as my grandfather read to me from Aesop’s Fables, stories have been a part of my life. My childhood was steeped in stories — those I listened to and those I read. Over the years I have become increasingly interested in the stories that collectively comprise my family’s history. I am not just interested in the accounts of big happenings but in the stories of ordinary days that can give me greater insight and appreciation for how those who came before me lived their lives. These are the kind of stories that can help me to better understand the factors that shaped the people who shaped me.

When I outlined my goals for my sabbatical, I included collecting and recording more of my family’s stories. Unless we are intentional about our stewardship of the stories that make up our respective family histories, they may one day be lost forever. And once these stories are lost, we also lose any benefit, encouragement, or perspective they might have given to us to help us better understand our own story. Today, I had the opportunity to collect more stories as my Dad and I drove the 300-plus miles from McAllen to Del Rio, Texas on the first day of our road trip. As we drove north along Highway 83 past towns with names like La Joya, Havana, Garciasville (my personal favorite), Escobares, and Quemado, the stories began to flow. I heard many stories for the first time and asked lots of questions about the family members whose stories were birthed in small towns like those along our route.

It’s great to finally be on the road with Dad. I was as restless as a kid on Christmas Eve last night and could not sleep. So, I turned on the light and started looking through some of my late mother’s books. My beautiful mother loved to read and wrote lots of notes that she tucked between the pages of the books that she was reading. We are still finding her hand-written notes here and there. Last night I found a note she had written and tucked into one of her books. This was not just any note, it was exactly the note I needed to read and one that reaffirmed my determination to collect more family stories. My mother had written something she had read in “Crow and Weasel”, a fable by essayist, author, and short-story writer Barry Lopez. The quote: “If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.” I love this quote. It sums up what I intend to do — to care for the stories that come to me and to give them away where they are needed. Mom’s note also reminded me that I need to live responsibly because someday someone might give away a story from my life. When that happens, I sure hope that it will give hope and encouragement to those who hear it.


  1. I liked this 🙂

  2. As always brother, you inspire and encourage. Thanks.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Matt.

  3. I look forward to reading more of your stories during your sabbatical. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Clint. Look forward to sharing more along the way.

  4. Hi Omar, enjoy your precious time with your dad.

    • Will do, Carol. Already having a great time at Big Bend.

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