Thomas Doty – Storyteller


My Parents

When my father passed away, he was 87 years old. Though he lived a wonderfully rich life, I suspect he continually mused over a question about me: "How is it that the son of banker could become a storyteller?" My father began his career rolling coins in his youth at the Medford branch of U.S. Bank. More than 50 years later he retired as Assistant Vice President.

My mother, who died 10 years before my father, was the artist in our family. She responded to my artistic antics with gentle nudges of encouragement. My father often raised his eyebrows -- rarely his voice -- and then took a grin-and-bear-it cue from Mom and smiled. Because Dad trusted Mom's intuition and her judgement, he never asked his question. He was a quietly patient man.

As I was speaking at his memorial service, I gazed at the crowd of friends and relations and it struck me that I am now the elder generation of my family. Yet I still view my art through the eyes of my childhood. Each day seems more of an adventure than work. I find joy immersing myself in the Golden Age of stories. Words are the deep forest I explore on tiptoe with wide eyes and the playground where I carelessly frolic. I never ask myself: "What am I going to do when I grow up?" or "When am I going to get a real job?"

I began telling stories in 1981. I have made the journey from then to now by a rough-and-tumble method familiar to folks who live creative lives: by breaking the conventional rules and making my own. During those moments when I pause and ponder my path, I think about the many things my parents taught me. Two lessons surface often. From my mother I learned to trust the conviction of my artistic calling. From my father, I learned that certain questions, with patience, find answers on their own.