Lillie Love, a StoryCorps facilitator who helped dozens of people record conversations with their loved ones, died last week in Atlanta. She was 53. When she began working with StoryCorps, Love recorded her thoughts about how her life had turned out. It had not gone according to plan, she said.
"When I was 13, I mapped out my life and made some critical decisions about what kind of life I was going to have," she told Anthony Knight, a fellow facilitator in Atlanta.
"I thought that at 52, I would be married with children, and hopefully grandchildren. But instead, very little of that actually happened. I did get married; it didn't last. I was pregnant several times, and I had miscarriages. And so — it's like designing a dress while you're wearing it. You know, you can't really fashion a life for yourself at 13 and think that that's going to fit you for the rest of your life."
Love said that at a certain point, she had to take stock of things and see what else life might offer her. "And what there was for me is to be a terrific sister; to be a wonderful friend; to be a great aunt," she said.
"So I tell people, the life that I have now is not the life I thought I would have — but it's the life that is perfect for who I am. And I never would have thought that when I was younger."
In her work for StoryCorps, Love was known for having one simple rule for people who came to record with her — she had to hug you at the end of the session. And she kept an optimistic outlook on life.
"I don't make things bigger than what they are. I don't borrow trouble," she said. And when she heard people complain about being bored — or hoping for Friday, Love would disagree. "You don't hear me saying that," she said. "I thank God for ordinary Tuesdays. Because the ordinary days means that nothing really great happened — but nothing really bad happened, either.
When Knight suggested that more people should live with that in mind, Love said, "Yeah! Thank God for an ordinary boring Tuesday, where you're thinking, 'Life is in a rut.' I love ruts — because it's predictable."
"Well, let's project into the future," Knight said.
"I don't do that anymore," Love answered. "I learned my lesson about creating clothing for 20 years down the road. You don't know what size you're going to be, you don't know what's going to fit you. I have learned to just let the universe give me what it is that I need.
"So, if I can keep it simple, and I can keep it real, and my family's OK — I'm OK."
Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WABE.