Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mostly Listening

I was in our home office when I got a phone call from Marty’s care giver for the day.  It was unusual because she was with Marty in Marty’s room, just down the hall.  Naturally, my anxiety meter went to red.  I mean really, why would LaShonda call me when she could holler at me from the other room.
My office is on one end of our home, Marty’s room is on the other end.  There’s about 75 feet separating the two areas.
I answered the phone with my what the hell is going on voice, “What’s up?”

“Where are you?” the voice answered, it was Marty.  It took a minute for my brain to cipher through the incongruity of her voice on LaShonda’s phone in the same house just yards from where I sat.  

My brain engaged, “I’m in the office.”

Marty asked, “What office?  Where?”

“In your house, just down the hall” I said as I was standing up to walk the length of the house to Marty’s room.  

“Why are you calling me?”

“I just wanted to talk to you” she said.  I think, “Aww, isn’t that sweet”.  Actually I felt a pang of guilt and chastised myself for being too quick to assume the worst.

I was in Marty’s room when she finished the sentence and said into the phone while looking at her and LaShonda sitting up in her bed, “I’m right here.”

Marty had been watching and listening as LaShonda talked on the phone as they rested in Marty’s room during the afternoon.  She clearly had decided after eavesdropping on LaShonda that she needed to have her own telephone conversation and LaShonda was more than happy to oblige her.

I took my phone and called daughter Erin, she was out of pocket.  I called son Matt and he was in Las Vegas at a convention.  Then I called the person I should have called first anyway, my mother.  My mother is a world class talker.  She can and does chat with anyone about anything for any length of time and she is great with Marty, filling her ears with all kinds of family gossip.  She is the perfect person to scratch Marty’s itch and she luckily she answered my call.

I explained what was going on and handed Marty over to my mother and they talked and talked and talked some more, they chatted for 30 minutes.  This is not a small thing for Marty, she doesn’t really talk like that anymore, she used to, but not anymore.  

You can always make Marty’s day if you come and talk to her, to her, not me.  That’s what my mother does.  Marty likes it when I’m in the background and she is in charge.  She loves it when someone other than me focuses their attention on her.

Marty won’t carry the conversation but she loves listening to others tell her stories.  She is a great listener and never reveals a secret, mostly because she can’t remember the details.

My mother was thrilled with the communication.  In truth, she is always the one who comes and talks and whispers secrets to Marty, not to me, not to the caregivers, but to Marty.  Marty loves it, she craves it, it makes her feel a part, it makes her feel sort of normal.  My mother does that simply by telling Marty stories, simply by talking to Marty and letting Marty listen and absorb the warmth and conversation of someone other than me.  It’s a big deal.

That’s the lesson here.  I’m the one who likes the rhythm in our day.  I’m the one who craves the familiar, the rut, Marty simply puts up with it.  She likes something, someone different, someone who will talk to her, who will fill her head with normal talk and not just ask her how she is doing.  My mother knows this and does it.

The telephone call with my mother did not completely surprise me.  The length did, Marty’s engagement did.  It shouldn’t have, it was another lesson from Marty…….and my mother.  Sometimes I need to get out of the way and let the pros talk and just listen.  

It’s what Marty likes to do, she likes to listen, she likes to listen to an occasional different voice.

No comments: