Listen in Silence

When I’m blissfully alone, immersed in a project or taking a delicious nap, I’m sometimes shocked to realize that I have chosen silence, at least for a while. No book, newspaper, computer screen or magazine has been visually consulted in at least an hour. No music, television, advice or questions from anyone have disturbed my solitude of being. Aside from the rhythmic tick- tock of a wall clock, the occasional thump of new ice in the freezer or the irrepressible ding of the washing machine announcing a finished cycle, I’ve succeeded in editing irrelevant sights and sounds out of my moments. I ask myself, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you wonder about the weather, want to call a friend or long to hear your favorite song?” I respond, “Not really, because what does...

Weathering the Inevitable

My recent client work in an adult day care setting has calmed me down. Interviews are slower, but answers more honest. Memories are dimmer, so grateful families get involved. My subjects are teaching me patience and acceptance for the frailties a long life may bring. I’m upset when I can’t remember a password, but they have learned to rest assured that loved ones and professionals will step in to help. Still, the frustration is palpable. Some of my favorite responses to questions follow: You think I know? My wife’s marbles are in her head, but mine are all over the floor. My daughter can look that up; she has all my stuff. I think I wrote that down once. I…I just can’t tell you. It’s right here, but I can’t say it. I’m not sure when my husband died, but I miss...

Getting Around to Where You’ve Been

Lately,  I’ve had a series of story inquiries from 90-somethings and those who love them. “Hurry,” I think, “before it’s too late,” and then I learn that the potential subjects are more lucid, healthier and readier than most of us to tell their truths. They feel an urgency to explain their accomplishments and choices. Why? Because they finally have the courage to face their own mortality. In many cases, losing the fear of death leads to losing the fear of life. Living Stories clients have freely explored their abuse, internment, divorce, war service, cancer, alcoholism, poverty, clinical depression, abandonment and many other negative life experiences in full detail through a rear-view mirror. Compassionate listening works magic as it unearths long-buried secrets...