Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Art of Listening

     I had a three hour flight ahead of me. My carry on had plenty of books and of course, my journal to keep me occupied. I dove into one of my reads and about an hour into the plane ride, I noticed the lady next to me was just sitting there. No book, no Nook, nothing to pass the time. I didn't want her to be bored the whole flight so I put my book away and asked her how she was and where was she headed. For the next hour or so I listened to this woman's heart which contains stories about her two adult sons, one that moved out to Dallas recently with his wife and four boys whom she was going to visit, and the other that lives in Fremont but works in Walnut Creek and also directs the award winning drum team from Homestead High School in Cupertino, so he drives a lot. He's not married, and she and her pastor just pray for that right woman to come along. One time he moved in with his mom because he had a mice problem. He can't handle any kind of bug or rodent, so she gladly took him in. She remarried 14 years ago, but her husband doesn't go to church, but he volunteers a lot, doing grounds work and whatever's needed. Her mother passed away a few years ago, strong Portuguese woman. She lives in Oakley. She was forced into retirement a couple years ago, but she wasn't ready. Worked for a lumber yard until it went out of business...

     I admit, it was a little tedious to hear so much detail about this stranger's life, but I wasn't listening for me. I wanted to lend an ear. So I asked questions along the way. I was interested. She confessed she's a talker (really?), so I let her talk.
     I got up to use the lavatory and when I came back, she asked the passenger on the other side of her if he liked his Mac (because her son works for Apple). I pulled out my journal and began writing about my flying partner when I had to chuckle softly because I heard her telling the man to her right that her son had to move in with her once because he had a mice problem.
     At the baggage claim I recognized her loved ones. She had shown me pictures. I watched out of the corner of my eye so I could catch the reunion between Mom and son and Grandma and grandkids. I watched those boys bolt for her open arms and it made me smile. I thought to myself, Now, there's some ears that probably don't ever get tired of hearing Grandma talk.
     After I grabbed my bags, we waved a silent goodbye to each other, and I was glad I met the talkative Portuguese lady. She helped teach me further the art of listening.

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