My Dad came over for dinner the other night.
I made homemade pizza and we ate and all through dinner, the kids chatted away at their Grandpa, and when the dishes were cleared, they hopped up and went to play.
But, my Dad, Real Man, Monkey Girl and I sat at the table and talked.
We talked about a lot of different things and the conversation flowed from topic to topic as the evening wore on.
At one point, I told my Dad that I had just been talking about my grandmother, earlier in the week, when I was asked about who was one of my inspirations.
I shared that I never forgot the time that I was staying with my Grandparents, in Ohio, and I went to work with my Grandma.
She drove the Bookmobile, and one day, we went to this tiny, broken down, ramshackle neighborhood.
You could smell the dirt and hear the stomachs grumbling.
The kids who came to the Bookmobile that day were filthy and they weren’t wearing shoes.
My Grandma put her arms around them, hugged them, leaned in close, read to them, laughed with them and treated them as if they, too, were her precious grandchildren.
I was a little jealous (only child AND only grandchild, here) and when we left, I said,”You treated those kids like they were me!”
She responded, “Amy, you should be as kind as you can, as often as you can. You might be the only kindness and gentleness in someone’s day.”
It always stuck with me and it’s something that I tell my own kids over and over and over again.
My Dad said that he never heard that story, but it reminded him of one of his own.
It reminded him of something that happened with his father, one time.
My Grandpa did not like conflict.
I remember when my grandparents would come to visit, and they would stay for a week at a time, because Ohio to NJ is not just right around the corner.
If my parents started fighting while my grandparents were at our house, my Grandpa would say “That’s it! Doris, pack your bags! We are leaving!”
He hated conflict.
My Dad said that one time, my grandparents were arguing and my grandpa said he was going to take a walk.
My Dad sat on their front stoop and watching his Dad walk away from the house, down the long, long block.
He waited for a long time and then my grandpa came around the bend on the other side of the block and my Dad thought, “Well, that wasn’t so bad,” until my grandpa just kept walking to do the loop again.
So, the story my Dad shared took place at the Dairy Queen, which was at the end of my grandparents street.
My Dad was about 12 and he and my grandpa were standing in line and they were behind this woman and her little boy, who was about 4 or 5 and she was just railing at the kid.
Calling him names and berating him.
When the line would move up, she would grab the kid’s arm, if he didn’t move fast enough, and yank him forward.
As my Dad told the story, I was pretty sure he was going to say that my grandpa was so uncomfortable with the situation that he turned around and left the Dairy Queen, but that wasn’t how it went.
At one point, the line started to move again and the woman, reached down to grab the boy’s arm, again.
My grandpa’s arm shot out, he grabbed her wrist and said “I think that’s enough of that,” and put her arm back down at her side.
My Dad said she never raised her hand to the boy again…at least not in my grandpa’s presence.
I never would have guessed that story.
That’s not the Grandpa that I knew.
He was always very busy and very quiet when I was there.
He took me fishing and we’d sit out in his boat (named the “Amy Beth”) for hours, just looking at the water, in silence.
He carved my name into wood and I had that on my shelf in my bedroom and every time he would come to visit, he would see it and nod.
If we were at the table and my grandma started filling my Dad and Mom in on the gossip from the town, he would mutter something about minding our own business and excuse himself from the table.
I loved that story.
I loved to hear that story so much, and I never would have heard it if we hadn’t been talking.
I miss talk.
I feel like we don’t spend enough time just talking with people anymore.
Talking without a goal for the conversation.
Conversation for conversations sake.
It’s one of the reasons I love visiting Kim, Erin and Michaela because it’s pretty much all we do.
I’ll admit, I’m not a great social talker. I tend to stay quiet and listen and only speak if I have something specific to say.
But even being on the receiving end of a good talk is fulfilling.
Going forward, I’m hoping to really prioritize making time for talk in my life.
It’s amazing the things you can learn when you open yourself up to it.