Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More about The Moth

As some of you Twitterers might know, the story I did for The Moth last month in Burlington, VT is the featured podcast this week. It's about me and my dad and some of the things we did and didn't do for each other before he died this past year. You can download it at the link above and you can also find it at iTunes. If you like a good story - even if you don't like mine - subscribe to the weekly Moth podcasts. There is some amazing stuff going on there.

Standing on that stage in Burlington and telling such a personal tale, almost a confessional, in front of 1500 strangers was one of the highlights of my performing life. Until the moment I walked in front of the microphone a big part of me thought I was making a mistake. It was too personal. It was too revealing of a very low point in my character. It would make me choke up.

It was all those things and more and has made me very happy. If my dad had been around to hear, he would have been ashamed from the criticism and embarrassed of the praise and I realize that I could not have told the story before now. I've told parts of it before -- you can hear the extended story of my college drop-out and near-death accident that followed on Exploded, a fragmented monologue I performed almost 20 years ago. But I never got down to the conclusions of the experience because 20 years ago I did not yet know what they were.

Scars, it's said, are the tattoos of experience. But they are often a hieroglyph, and it takes some study to figure out what they say to us.


Blogger B said...

Listened to your story on my Moth podcast this morning. I love The Moth stories and I've been following your blog for a while, so it was a treat to see your name come up in the description as the storyteller. Soldier on.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just listened to The Moth podcast---Your story was wonderful and brought a few tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. Very moving and emotionally engaging. Thanks for the courage to stand up and tell it, "brave as any soldier".

11:54 AM  
Blogger Adri said...

Tom, I just listened to your piece on The Moth, and wanted to thank you for sharing such a personal moment in your life. Such a beautiful realization of how profound our parents influence is on our lives, even when we fight it. The gift is that you have realized it at all when so many others bury it in memories and behind pride.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really loved your story, Tom! Thank you so much for sharing your powerful and personal story.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your story on the Moth really made an impact on me. It sure illustrates what some encouraging words from a family member can do.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Tom Rhoads said...

I was in the audience on the night you told your story at the Flynn and I was touched by it. Thank you for sharing such an emotional and personal life story. I'm glad that I got to listen to it again on The Moth.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for that.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a touching story. Thanks for sharing. I don't know if your Mom listened it? If she did , what did she think?

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hearing your story on The Moth podcast led me to try to hear more of this voice that had only been funny-guy on Wait-Wait. (so I found your website and this blog!) You were anything but that. Truly true, you were, the kind that pierces the hearts of all who listen. Thanks for your courageousness, Mr. Tom Bodett.

8:42 PM  
Blogger David Ownby said...

My father died last month, and I listened to your Moth story with considerable emotion. Here is the little text I penned about my father for the funeral. I would have been different--more bittersweet, like yours--had I been "performing" for a non familial audience.

"When I was growing up, Daddy worked. He worked a lot. Most days he left for work before we had breakfast, and though he had dinner with us most nights, he was often asleep on the couch fairly early—which was normal since he got up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. He worked many weekends, too, and traveled for work, although we did of course go to the lake, play football and softball, and take vacations together. I think he was very lucky, as an intelligent, ambitious, driven man to come of age in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, when the economy was booming, America was expanding, and dreams were there for the picking. His father could never have imagined being so well paid for his efforts—and I’m not sure his grandsons will be able to either.
Of course, the price he paid for his love of work was absence from his family, which he also loved. Christmas was one of the ways he made up for his absence. Christmas was always a huge event in our house, measured largely by the number of presents. It was not at all unusual for each of us to receive as many as 20 presents—which put a lot of pressure on my mother, my brother, and me, since Daddy regularly bought everything he wanted for himself whenever he wanted it, leaving us little room for creativity. But that was okay. He didn’t really want to get things for Christmas; he wanted to give things. I remember visiting friends’ houses at Christmas where the holiday was more modestly observed and feeling sad for them.
As everyone knows, Daddy took up making golf clubs when he retired. At first I found this strange, since he was not particularly gifted with his hands, and I wasn’t sure that he would be able to yell a club onto the end of a shaft in the same way he kept his employees in line. But gradually I understood that this was his way of living Christmas all year round, and showering those he loved with gifts. He of course made clubs for me too, but since I no longer play golf, and live 1000 miles away, I didn’t hasten to take him up on his gift with the good grace I might have, and the clubs are still in his basement. When I return to Montreal this time, however, the clubs will be in the back on my car. I don’t know if I’ll ever take up golf again, but I’ll keep the clubs, and I’ll put them somewhere in my basement where I will see them on a regular basis. And when I see them, I’ll be reminded of the glittering Christmas trees of my childhood with the dozens of presents around them, and of Daddy’s satisfied smile at our happiness with his gifts."

4:25 PM  
Blogger Corey Fischer said...

Always enjoyed yr deadpan drollery on wwdtm but your Moth story moved me deeply. Also made me curious about the rest of yr story. And what a rich one it is. Shouldn't surprise me to discover yr connection to the radio wizards Allison and Isay whom I bumped into in late 80s on that proto-facebookish entity called The Well. I was trying to learn about the form in relation to some radio pieces my theatre was making. They were generous and clearly brilliant. Will pursue yr archives soonest. Glad to find you in the parade. Thanks for yr humor and courage!

12:01 AM  
Blogger FirewalkerRev said...

Thank you, Tom. Who know how many beyond the 1,500 you will touch with your truth, courage and love?

12:12 AM  
Anonymous MerryT said...

Just finished listening to your Moth podcast; reminded me of the WWII veterans I've been lucky to know. Also of lively discussions with my own parents. Here's to second chances, passages, and being brave enough. And to you for sharing such a powerful tale with us ~ thanks!

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Bodett:

Nice work. Thank you.


11:38 AM  

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