Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Taking time to Listen


Met an elderly man in the hardware store recently, he was about 85 years old. We were both looking for something they didn’t have, as we both stared at the shelves in worlds of our own he apologised for being in my way. I laughed and said it was alright and that started us chatting. His wife had died 6 years earlier and he shared how much he missed her, how he like ‘most men’ and these were his own words, didn’t appreciate what he had when she was around. He signed, as he stated that she spoiled him and would do everything for him ‘oh how I miss her he said’.....the old saying ‘you never know what you got till it’s gone came spilling out my mouth and he laughed, ‘yes your right’ he said.

He asked me what I had been looking for I told him I was picking up a few bits for my mother who I look after. We talked for around half an hour dodging the other customers that walked past us, time was irrelevant we were in the moment. I learnt of his past, fighting for justice, a rebel with a cause in South Africa, fleeing to London, and talked about his childhood sweetheart he was forbidden to see and every now and then since his wife had died he wonders how she is and whether he should get in touch with her.

He then turned to me and told me I was a treasure, and how lucky my husband must be....would you like to get a cup of coffee in the cafe next door? I rain-checked and promised the next time that I saw him we would sit and chat.

How much time do we give to others to listen to what they have to say?  He hadn’t spoke to anyone for a whole week, people just didn’t have the time and I was for him a breath of fresh air, just as he was for me – I was on automatic as I got on with the chores of the day until I met him!  Being called a treasure reminded me of the light we all carry around with us that we can choose to let shine or turn it off as we get burdened with the pressures of life.

Making the most of every opportunity and relationships that come our way we need to seize life with both hands and live it to the full. When I get to 80 or 90 years old I want to be able to look back with fondness at all those memories, and those times that I stopped what I was doing and listened.
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