Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Admiring a man

I spent two hours on the phone with my dad the other night. It was a really good time. We talked about everything from gutters to acupuncture. We enjoyed ourselves so much that I was stunned when I looked up at the clock to find that it was nearly midnight.

I like spending time with my dad. He seems to enjoy spending time with me, too. My friends like him, and he likes them. My dad is easy to get along with, although I would have laughed in your face if you told me that when I was 16. Was it just that I changed, or has my father changed, too? I never used to talk to him on the phone. I spoke with him briefly about financial matters or when he picked up the phone and passed it to my mom. Mom and I would talk all the time.

When I confronted my father with this fact the other night, he told me that with Mom and me in the room, he could barely get a word in the conversation. My brother doesn’t talk as much as I do, but he certainly outpaces my father.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m less interested in what my brother has to say.

My father is a self-described good listener, and there’s no way to dispute that. Despite my mother’s loquacity, she was an excellent listener. It’s a skill I like to think that I picked up from her: the ability to make conversation with a rock and to listen carefully and with purpose. Real listening isn’t just sitting quietly while someone talks. Real listening requires ascribing value to the words someone speaks, whether the speaker knows the importance of her/his words or not.

My dad? He does that. I feel important when I talk to him. He makes my words valuable.


At 4:45 PM, Blogger Zoe said...

Your father sounds awesome.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Emilin, this post really struck a chord with me. I didn't realize until after my father died in 1998 how skilled he was at making me feel heard and accepted. I took this for granted in him and have missed it every day since his death, most keenly on Sundays, which was our day to talk. For a long time after his death, all I could hear on Sunday night was the silence in my house when my phone did not ring. Anyway, I have digressed. I love and loved my own father dearly, and am heart-warmed by the fact that you have noted and appreciated this wonderful quality in your own father while you can still enjoy it.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Gosling said...

What an amazing grandpa he will be to Ebry. Lucky kid. Lucky you. My grandpa was like that (dad, too). Men who really listen and make us feel important have the power to change the world.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger blue said...

Very nice. I've been thinking about this kind of thing a lot as my father's hearing fades and the simplest of conversations becomes harder to have. Your father sounds like a great man.


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