“I believe in the magic and authority of words.”
~ René Char
There is a woman named Betty who lives in the care home with my mother-in-love who does not speak. She is 99-years-old and has some dementia but, as far as I can tell, is physically strong. She dives heartily into her meals; one time, when my husband was taking his parents out for a drive, Betty escaped after them through the door that’s kept locked and he had to corral her and take her back inside. Indoors, she maneuvers her walker like it’s motorized and cruises up and down the halls like a champ. She delights in seeing our Yorkie, her eyes light up as she scratches Maya’s ears and coos at her.
Betty doesn’t speak. She can, I’ve been told, but she chooses not to. I think at 99 she can choose to do, or not do, whatever she wants.
Yesterday, as I observed the ladies sitting at the lunch table, mostly not talking, (except for one dear woman who was annoyed that she had been invited for lunch but her husband hadn’t been served any soup–her husband who wasn’t there) I thought about Betty and the non-verbal state she chose. I wondered if she was an introvert who found the effort of making small talk too taxing and, at some point, decided she had simply had enough. I imagined that, at some point in my life I might make a similar choice should I live long enough.
Later, when we were back home, my daughter called and, as I sat next to my pots of tomatoes and peppers with the sunshine streaming in, we had a long talk about an assortment of things–real things. Later, when I finally got off the phone, I thought about how different real conversation with someone I love is from the inane small talk I usually avoid, and how I feel energized instead of depleted afterward.
This morning I am thinking that authentic connection and conversation may be of the tools that can help keep us healthy as we age. If nothing else, it certainly makes the here-and-now infinitely richer–even my introverted solitude-loving self recognizes that.
Authentic communication is the key to communication , longevity, and overall good health, I think.
Thanks so much, Mary Jo.
This is a very astute observation. I don’t much like chit-chat. Right now I don’t really have a person to have deep conversations with (I’ve recently lost my BFF in a severe way). So, mostly I just make chit-chat and go about my day. I miss those deep conversations. Just this week, something extreme happened to me, and I find lost as I don’t have anyone to share it with! So I can certainly understand the “clam up.” I can see me doing this.
The loss of your BFF must leave a huge void, Karen. I’m sorry. I understand that a certain measure of chit-chat is required as we walk through our life but those precious times of deep conversation are priceless. Hoping you find connection with someome like-minded you can go deeper with soon.
Thank you for the keen insights here – and for the rich, velvety pot of flowers.
Thank you for stopping by, Marian!
Linda , my profession is a hairdresser , I have spent my life using small talk to the point of making me ill . I am in total agreement with you about meaningful conversation . These days I choose when to speak, in fact I love silence whilst in the company of others . It’s the silences into between the conversation that say more . That lovely lady is a sensible one, and may I say , so are you .
I agree, Cherry! Silence often speaks loude, and goes deeper, than words–especially words of mindless chatter. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope you have a wonderful day.