[written in the fall – edited today]
How often have we had a friend tell us the same story again? And, how do we react?
This morning I was out front doing some weeding, planting a few bulbs and making a mental note to get more bulbs when my neighbor came over to check out what I was doing and chat . . . Dale is a wonderful older neighbor who always has a project going, a hello to give, a story to tell or something witty to say. This was until his second stroke. After his first stroke he was very matter of fact and moved along like this was just another part of his day – very admirable. But, after his second stroke he seemed sad. His wife told us that his coordination and balance checked out great but his speech was affected. So, basically what he is thinking does not translate into understandable sentences. Today after many months of gradually moving to a smile and a wave then a hello and some words he stopped to chat briefly. Hopefully, it was enough that I smiled when he smiled and agreed a offered some kind words of my own though I did not understand everything he was saying. Before heading on his way he motioned me over to see his beautiful mum that is now in total bloom – this I understood and I am sure he knew that I did!
This encounter made me think about listening and how often I or a friend or a family member tells the same story. My grand mother suffered from dementia so her short term memory was not so great. This combined with being older meant that she told her stories of her youth and a moment ago often. Somehow, I never minded and would listen again or ask a question to move to another subject. This may just be the way I am and I kind of hope so but I am sure that it was helped along by hearing so many people around her let her know that she already said that and I could see how this really affected her.
So, how hard is it to listen to a story again? Can we take the time? If the friend wants to tell it again why not take a moment and listen – we all love to tell stories and if we can also love to hear them how happy is that. Really, how hard is that?
I miss my grams and her stories but am very happy that my neighbor feels more comfortable telling his!