untold story

Bearing an Untold Story

untold story


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou


A few days ago my aunt, at the wise age of 78, passed away suddenly from pneumonia. Her death stirred a flurry of memories I have from my childhood, when she and my uncle and their five children lived only a few houses away from where my family lived. There were so many wonderful moments from those nine years I spent running in between my home and her’s – especially the long summer days my cousin (the youngest of the five), my sister and I spent riding our bicycles, jumping rope, chasing the local ice cream truck and sucking purple ice pops on my aunt’s front steps while she kept a close eye making sure we were safe from harm’s way.

My aunt was a quiet woman whose purpose was mothering. Her children were her world and she lived and breathed their happiness as her own. She worried a lot – I suppose having five children will do that to you – and she gave all of her time to caring for her family.

As a child I didn’t think much of her quietness and of the way she often made herself small in a room. Now, as an adult woman in her late thirties who yearns to pursue endless dreams and passions, I wonder what lived in my aunt’s heart. Under all the love and worry and selfless caregiving as a mother, what stories of dreams and adventures did she hold deep within her soul that she never told?

My aunt grew up in a very different era, one that did not value the voices of women. She, like many women born in the 1930’s, took on the common role of being a mother and housewife. And in this most beautiful, powerful role, she and many women like her lost their sense of self in the fury of needs of those they cared for.

These untold stories of women and men who have gone before us and of those who presently feel that their story is not worthy of being shared is one of humanity’s greatest losses. Each of us has something important to give to the world. It is our journey, our path, our walk through life that is uniquely and entirely ours. We must find the courage to tell our stories as they are as much ours as they are an important piece to our collective humanity.

My aunt is gone. I no longer have the opportunity to sit with her at the dinner table and ask her how her heart feels, what brings her joy, how she wants to be remembered or what she quietly dreamed for herself as a young woman living in Brooklyn in the 1950’s… I know she would have loved to have shared if I simply asked.

If someone you know is bearing an untold story, be the person to ask and to offer a moment to listen, to learn, to love. And in turn, let the stories in your heart find their way onto a page or into someone’s ear. We are our stories. Let your life be the message you inscribe on the world.


With love & gratitude,


Co-founder, The Culture-ist

Photo: Anthony Russo

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