The Long Talkers
By Jacob Hatcher
Rick Bragg called them The Long Talkers. The men that have a story for every occasion and are masters at telling those stories. The men that lived life before it was centered around digital forms of entertainment, when evenings were spent on dimly lit porches where conversation only had to compete with crickets singing and peas snapping.
To say they’re a dying breed would be cliché, but that wouldn’t make it any less true. I grew up surrounded by Long Talkers, but as the years go by I find the table we gather around gets smaller and smaller.
Just this month, my family has lost two of its Long Talkers, and the world is less for it. My Nana’s brother Clyde died in early February and my Papa’s brother Howard, whom we all called Uncle Gig, died this past Saturday.
I recently visited with Uncle Gig and as we sat at his table, he began to tell of my Papa’s service in Korea. As he told of the horrors Papa shared with him, he began to cry when he said, “I think those things made it hard for him to sleep for a while.”
In that moment I knew why the Long Talkers of this world are important; those few tears told as much of the story as the words did. They told of how much family matters and flooded the room with empathy. This wasn’t just a story; it was decades of missing his brother come to bear. It wasn’t an interesting anecdote, it was a peak behind the scenes of what brothers ought to feel for one another.
Sadly, there will come a day when that generation of Long Talkers will all be gone from this side of eternity. Their stories will live on, but they will no longer be here to tell them.
Sociologists say that nine languages die each year, and that number will grow in time. Before long, that number will be well into the double digits. I just pray that there never comes a day when the language of the Long Talkers ceases to be spoken.