My parents, Mildred and Joe Brammer
I saw this quote about wisdom on a billboard.
"Wisdom comes from a lifetime of listening."
Thinking of my folks, my dad is now 88. Dad spends his winters in South Texas where it's warm. Today he called me on his cell phone, where he was waiting in the parking lot of his church, waiting for the right time to go inside. He did a lot of the talking, and I did the listening.
I love it when Dad and I really talk. He tells me stories about when he and his best friend, Don, had parts in the school play, but they were kicked out because they were caught playing hooky! He's shared with me how he got hired as a city fireman by going to the home of a local politician to ask for the job - a job he gets a good retirement pension from these days. And we've talked about depression, and finances, and politics (we differ a little bit!).
And we've talked about what it means for someone to be gay. Dad's come a long way since I told him about my husband being gay. After several conversations, he came to this conclusion: "I think it must be something you're born with." I know he didn't believe that before I told him about Ray, but I think that he put some things together - and he drew the right conclusions. He didn't stick to his ideas from the Navy (circa WW II). He didn't continue to think like his Sunday School class. He saw how our life had been lived, how Ray had lived, and Dad knew that there had to be more to this than a "choice."
And there's Mom, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 81, and she had lived what's considered a long time. After she died, there were so many things I wanted to ask her about, but for some reason I hadn't. Often I just wanted to talk to her again - and I wish I hadn't been in a hurry with life. It didn't matter if it was a recipe for pecan pie or the lyrics to a song she used to sing to wake us up, or to how she got through storms of her 55-year marriage, I just wanted to talk to her again. I wish I could talk to her now.
When I saw that quote from a local billboard, it reminded me that we need to listen more. I need to listen more, and I need to take time with people, and I need to remember to NOT do all the talking.
Last week I talked to a friend about my daughter who is about to give birth to a second baby. She's 33. When I was 33, I thought I was very knowledgeable, that I knew some things. By that age, I was not even intimidated if I had to say, "Oh, I'm wrong about that." I was beginning to learn real "stuff." Or so I thought.
My friend had this to add, "Carol, if we are seeing that there is so much to learn NOW, since it's been a while since we were 33, think how much MORE we'll learn by the time we're 80." I'm reflecting on that - I keep asking myself, "Am I learning more?"
Here's an old entry about my mom that I wrote in May 2007. If you were here, Mom, I'd love to ask you some questions, listen to your answers, and know that wisdom shows up in the years and years you were with us.