John’s dad was in his late 80’s. It was easy to see that traveling wouldn’t be an option much longer. Living in California, he missed the seasons in his home state of Michigan and he missed the familiar places and people he grew up with. He didn’t talk much about it but a word now and then let John catch a glimpse of the longing. So a trip was planned with the express purpose of walking down memory lane hand in hand with his dad and off they went on a lovely fall day in 2008.
When John told me the story of taking his dad to his old home, his old church, the lake house where he played as a boy, the corner store where he bought penny candy and the pond where he skated long ago, I thought it was a wonderful story. But then he told me what made it really special.
“I asked him a lot of questions about the old days and let him tell me everything he could remember. I just listened and listened to wonderful story after wonderful story. Some were sweet, some sad, and a lot were funny. He had a smile on his face the whole time and I had a smile in my heart just seeing him so happy. We’ll probably never take a trip like that again but this one gave us both memories for a lifetime.
John’s story reminded me of the answer of an 89 year old woman when I asked what her children could do to make her happy. “Just listen to us talk.” She said. I know old people talk a lot but just be a little patient and listen to us. We really have a lot to say.”
And John listened and listened and listened. What a lovely gift for his dad that must have been. To be asked questions, to be listened to and to be really heard.