It was one year ago today that my father passed away. I’m still learning how to wrap my brain around this fact. I keep wanting to call or email him. His email address is still sitting there in my address book while his instant messenger icon keeps telling me he’s not available.
So much has happened in the past year: I finally quit my job, I’m back in college, I’m pregnant. Dad would have been thrilled about all of these things.
At his funeral, a family friend stood up and told us about a time she went to visit him in the hospital. Before she left, she asked him if there was anything specific he would like her to pray for on his behalf. He paused to think for a while, and then, at a time when any one else would pray for the pain to stop, or a cure for cancer, or wisdom for the doctors or something else along those lines, my dad said this:
“Pray that my conversations will be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, and that I will have the strength and wisdom to answer any question that is asked of me.”
Yes, my father was something of a poet, but this was actually a paraphrase of a bible verse.
This quote of my father has stuck with me over the past year. First of all, my conversations could most certainly use more grace. I’ve been told over and over and over again that I can only control my own reaction in a conversation. The truth is that there are ways to counter hate and bigotry gracefully. I just have to learn how to do it and then I need to teach my child.
The second part of that statement has stuck to me as well. My father was a quiet man and was not in the habit of drawing attention to himself or making himself the topic of conversation. I, on the other hand, was irritated that I didn’t know very much about him and that he didn’t just, unprompted, broadcast all his stories to us. How simple it would have been to ask him some questions rather that sitting there waiting for him to open up.
I’m not bringing this up for the purpose of beating myself up, I have something else in mind. Do you have anyone in your life who is quiet by nature? Someone who is humble and not at all likely to make the conversation all about them? When you talk to them, is the conversation usually about you? Or do you ask them questions too?
I wonder how many people out there would be open books, if someone would just ask.
I’m paying more attention now, to see who’s waiting for me to ask them a question about themselves. I’m not advocating an interrogation, but a genuine interest combined with a couple questions could make a big difference.
Tune in tomorrow and I’ll treat you to Dad’s poem “Don’t Step on My Catheter!“
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