By Abe Villarreal

In the 2003 movie Big Fish, a busy corporate business type is the son of a dying man. They meet up as the father, stricken with cancer, is experiencing his last days. The two have grown distant. The son feels that he doesn't know his true dad.

True to his character, Edward Sr., on his death bed recounts stories of his past, unbelievable tall tales of big fish, a walking giant, twin sister performers, charismatic circus personalities, and a witch who can tell the future. Edward Jr. has heard these stories over and over, and as he hears them again, he feels like he just doesn't get who is real dad.

We all have those dads or grandpas in our life. Over a cup of coffee, or just sitting on your front porch, quiet moments turn into conversations you feel you already had. One of my favorite high school teachers, whenever I catch up with him, begins a talk by saying "Do you remember the time…"

Most of us are probably too nice to say that we remember, or that we heard the story last week. We listen and hope that time passes by quickly. We chuckle and nod at the same point in the story like we did the last time we heard it. Meanwhile, someone is happily telling us something that is important to them.

I think that's what we forget about those favorite grandpa stories. We forget that grandpas or nice neighbors are telling us something they think is important for us to know. Maybe we will learn something or maybe we will just be entertained. Either way, they want us to hear it.

Edward Jr. felt like his dad wasn't being straight with him. How can a witch foretell the future? How can an ordinary person like his dad have met so many interesting people? What is real and what is fantasy?

I remember my grandpa telling me stories of his time as a Seabee in the Navy. They included tigers chasing him up palm trees, adventures in foreign lands and exotic places. Who knows, maybe they were all true. He died when I was 15 so I never had the blessing of sharing adult conversations with him.

The difference between me and Edward Jr. was that I like to remember my grandpa just the way he wanted me to remember him. He was funny and a hero. He experienced life through the great depression and World War II. He traveled to different states and countries.

He was a lot of things to me. Mostly, he was what he wanted me to believe he was. Maybe, if he would have lived longer, I would have had the chance to know his "real" side, or maybe I already did.

Edward Jr. struggled with this conflict of real versus fantasy. His problem was that he didn't give his dad permission to be the man that he wanted his son to believe he was. He couldn't accept it.

At the end of the film, as he takes his final breaths, Edward Jr. investigates the facts behind his father's life and tales. He is surprised to learn that many of the people he has heard of in stories are true people. Finally, he comes to the realization that maybe his dad, despite a few colorful exaggerations, is really the true dad he was blind to recognize all his life.

I like unbelievable stories. If you pay close attention, not to the details but to the people, you will see the faces of storytellers come to life. They get wrapped up in emotion and happiness when they feel that they are blessing you by sharing a story that means so much to them.

Sure, you've heard them time and again. You know how they will end. Next time you hear them, take a moment to really listen to why they are telling you this story and why it's important to them.

You may take away something you didn't hear before. You may learn why the story is important to you, too.

Abe Villarreal writes about the people, culture, and traditions of America. He can be reached at

Click to search the Beat Click to search the Beat

Get Updates Three Times a Week

Welcome to the Update! You will receive emails 3 times a week with links to recently posted articles.


You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

Please Note in Classifieds a dog looking for a home. And now a well-loved cat is looking for a home.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

  • The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option at the top of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Go to Top