Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Listening

Sweetie used to facilitate a caregivers' support group via teleconferencing. He never had many callers. Even I backed out after awhile, cause I needed to spend more time with Dad than on the phone. He did have a regular caller, though, one of his coaching friends. who faithfully called in every Tuesday to discuss how hard it was to parent his grandchildren.  Their mom, his daughter, wasn't doing a very good job. Like many of the boomer sandwich generation this guy and his wife stepped up to the plate to give their grandchildren a stable home.  Just when they were about to enjoy retirement, their lives changed. I don't think they'd have it any other way, but that's not to say it wasn't a difficult situation.

Sweetie passed out business cards around town, advertising the support group. The group calls ended a few years ago but apparently  his number is still listed on a few caregiving websites.

Last night, he got a call. Thought it was a wrong number at first. Then he got to thinking about it an called the number back. The caller had been trying to reach the teleconference which of course was no longer available.  She somehow tracked down Sweetie's cell phone number. It didn't take long for him to figure out this woman was really in need of some help, someone to talk to, someone to listen to her.
She's been caring for her mother with Alzheimer's for 6 years. As the disease has progressed, she's had to quit her job to be with her mother round the clock.

I was sitting next to Sweetie, listening and offering suggestions.  He passed the phone off to me cause I had my computer on and was furiously trying to find some caregiving sites I know about.  I gave the woman the information I had and the names of some people to call.  And when she said thank  you, that could have been the end of it.

But I heard these words come out of my mouth .... would you like to talk about it? Just giving her permission to vent eased her burden a tiny bit. I could hear it in her voice. I could remember being in her shoes. Being tired. The kind of tired that seeps into your bones. And scared. The kind of scared you get when you don't want to face certain facts. Like having to let go of the parent you used to have for the parent you have now. Like having to be the parent when all you really want to do is climb up in your momma's lap and have her tell you everything's going to be okay.  Season that with a dash of anger, a pinch of frustration, and a hand full of "what's next." You get the picture. When I said I'd be happy to talk to her, I knew I was offering a lifeline to help her stay afloat until she could catch her breath.  We cried a little. Even laughed some.  Then said goodbye. I hope she slept a little better.


I don't know anything about the alignment of stars, or how karma works.  But I'm pretty sure  there is a Divine power that connects us all together. Yesterday I was in the right place at the right time when people wanted/needed to share what was on their heart. And I knew enough to practice the fine art of listening and validate what I heard. I learned how to do that from Sweetie. In a way we'd come full circle. 


Remember Horton the Elephant and those big, ears listening to tiny little Whos that no one else can hear. What if we all had elephant ears? All the better to hear with, don't you think?

Have you had the opportunity to listen lately?  To turn off your phone or close your computer, and turn your full attention to what is being said? I think you'll find it's as good for you as it is for the other person.

Merry ME

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is no one any better to talk to than you.ld