Today I tweeted one of my daily “Theo’s Pup Tip Of The Day”-
I was inspired by finding myself giving that circular hand motion — you know the one — the one that says “wrap it up already” to someone I love.
Yeah, Yeah… I heard this a million times… wrap it up already.
Why do I do that? Why do I roll my eyes? I do I hardly even pretend to be listening?
How in the world do I not pay attention to the people I love?
My father used to tell the same story all the time about a famous company he visited as an agent for a gauge company. The CEO of the company told him that all the people on the factory floor were millionaires, because he had given them stock in the company and they had been profitably bought out. But the employees were still there. They loved working there. My father told this story dozens and dozens of times… especially when he was at the end of his life and didn’t always remember what he had told us already.
I’d love to hear it again. I’d pay attention. I’d ask him: What was that guy’s name? Did the employees look different, now that they were rich? Did you get his business? Did you become friends? I’d ask him to tell that story again, the very next time I saw him. I’d be lucky to hear it.
This week when I have lunch with my sister, I am going to ask her to tell me that story about her friend with the goats. I love that story. This time I will ask her the names of those silly goats. If she doesn’t remember, I will ask her to find out. That way she can tell me the story again next week.
I want to hear how my mother secretly applied to nurses’ training against her parents’ wishes, and packed her bag and walked off to school alone. And how she loved studying and working at the hospital and how she even thought the hospital food was delicious. And how my grandparents eventually became very proud of their daughter, the nurse.
And I want that grandfather to tell me how he left Poland because they wanted him to be a soldier, but how he didn’t want to go to war, so he came to the United States and how he came over with a stepbrother, but when the boat docked they went their separate ways and never saw each other again. But how he had left his fourteen-year-old sister back in Poland and how he wrote to her regularly for the next seventy years.
I want to hear my girlfriend tell me how her father took the bag of garbage to work one day instead of his lunch. And how his friends never let him forget it. That story always makes me laugh.
I want to hear my great-aunt Lora tell me how she worked as a maid in Groton, but on Saturday nights she would go down to the New London navy base and dance with the sailors. And how she had the best legs in Connecticut and everyone knew it, and how — if she could be anything she wanted — she would be Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke.
I want my husband to tell me about the time his buddy came home one Christmas on leave from the army, and brought a pilfered parachute with him, and how they tied it a toboggan on a windy day — and the parachute took them on the wildest ride across fields and yards and up and down hills and busy streets. And they thought they would die and yet shrieked from the thrill. And their pants and coats were full of snow when the toboggan finally dumped them against a fence.
Some of these stories I will never get the chance to hear again. But some of them I will — and this time I will listen.
I will listen to my youngest grandnephew as he tells me in the most roundabout way possible of every superhero that has ever been created, including a few that may only exist in his little brain, and of the television show he likes that has the magic gems, and while he is telling me this, he will be touching my topaz necklace gently, and his eyes will tell me that perhaps he thinks I might have some of this magic.
And I will think: