A Whole-hearted Listening and Unexpected Rewards

I am so grateful for still having two grandmothers in my hometown. My father’s mother has been widowed since decades ago, since my father was 7th grader ( he is now retired from being a government civil servant, as recent as last month). My mother’s mother is also a widow for around these last 7 years. It’s been tough on these two women, seeing their husbands leave that way. Both of my grandfathers died of sickness.

Seeing them all alone at home while the rest of the younger family members are going out to, for example, go on short picnic is kind of saddening. They don’t want to bother anyone so they think it’s much better to stay at home, take a nap and let the others enjoy their lives.

My grandmothers are not very demanding women. They just provide freedom to their children and grandchildren. They don’t like dramas, and will never make dramas just to draw others’ attention. I find out that all they just need is simply someone to talk to and to rehash their past memories with.

While I’m in hometown, I’d like to sit down with them for a while. In their artless bed rooms full of photos or mementos. My father’s mother has her own collages showcasing all her grandchildren. She also keeps a family photo taken in 1960’s where my father’s father was still alive. He was a soldier, she told me. One day, he had a vision, I guess, and suddenly asked my grandmother what she would do if someday he passed away, which he later really did. She thought he was disillusioned, rejecting the gruesome ide of being left by a beloved one and a father of her 6 sons too fast.  My grandfather said she should’ve gotten married to another gentleman so she could earn a living for the 6 boys they had. She said she would have never done such a thing under any circumstances. She would stay faithful to him and would raise all of the sons with her own hands. And she eventually did. She was a nice looking young widow known for being consistently rejecting men around her. While she was telling me all this, I was just nodding, casting a wide smile, rubbing her dry wrinkled bony hands with some olive oil I bought her. I didn’t want to interrupt her so I just listened.

My mother’s mother has her own favorite story themes to tell me, as well. She talked a lot about her late husband, her friends at an organization especially founded for war veterans’ wives. There’s not much to tell about when it comes to the second though. The story is always about sickness and death. Not fun at all. But I found her story about what my late grandfather used to do with me as a kid interesting and quite emotional. She sometimes lost her control when my late grandfather’s name was mentioned. Nothing I could do. I just hugged her tight and touched my cheeks to hers. I’m not really good at saying soothing words in emotional situations, which is truly contrary to popular belief that a person with a linguistic enthusiasm can always expressively and outspokenly blurt anything. I am not.

And today I was just listening to another elderly’s story. He called me on the phone this morning telling me to go see him within 4 hours. I thought it was a job-related calling. And it actually was. At first it felt hard to meet him on weekend like now but well, that’s a duty call. But then I dispelled such a narrow-minded thought. I wanted to learn things from this person. Considering how much people want to have him on their books and products, this old guy offers an endless supply of lessons of life.

I was right. I learned a lot by listening to him and asking the emphatical yet critical questions, trying to dig out some facts out of his mouth and mind and memories. He told me some stories he would never allow others to know. You know you’re lucky and honored when someone trusts you and voluntarily confines some of the invaluable memories in you.

At the end, he rewarded me in a very unexpected way. And suddenly I remember that yoga teacher training I long for. This might be His answer. Praise be to Him, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds…

In the meantime, let me listen to myself now through my post-midnight deep slumber.

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