I attended the funeral of a dear family friend yesterday. By the way, I thought long and hard about the title to this post. I decided that Eunice would enjoy it. Her sense of fun and mischievousness was one of her traits we all appreciated.
Eunice was part of our family circle for some 45 years from the time her husband-to-be brought her to his friends (my parents) for dinner to see what they thought of his choice. They approved and, as they say, the rest is their-story. He had already been approved by brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and most of the nursing staff of the local hospital where Eunice was a nursing sister.
This was her husband’s second marriage and he had two children, a girl of ten and a boy of eight years. The son spoke at his Mum’s funeral. He said they weren’t sure what to call her at first but that she had earned the title of Mum many times over. He went on to say that when his Dad told them he was going to marry again his first thought was, “What will happen with the sausages?”
“Sausages came in packs of eight. When Dad cooked them I got three, Dad got three, and my sister got two. Now, unless Dad were to open a second packet (and that wasn’t going to happen) the status quo was about to change.”
He never told us how they worked it out.
It struck me how little we know about what goes on in another person’s mind, and particularly in a child’s mind. We assume we know, we anticipate the likely thoughts the expected reactions and try to prepare for them. We listen and we make assumptions about what we see and hear. But so often it’s the little things, the completely unexpected things, things we could never have anticipated, that are the sticking points.
How we need to be open and to listen to each other, especially to the children and the vulnerable. We simply do not know what’s going on in another person’s mind and heart. Someone said that it’s not your first question that’s important; it’s the second or third that begins to get to the heart of the matter. Listen carefully, ask questions, and ask again. Give the person you want to engage with plenty of opportunities to express his or her thoughts in a variety of ways. And when it’s all come out, expect there to be more.
A friend blogged about her impending move across the States. Their youngest (three) was very sad.
“This is our house. We don’t need another one,” he said.
“Poor kid…. His concepts of home, family, and all things familiar and lovely are probably inseparable from this house. Again, we tried to allay his fears, but—bless his little heart—we didn’t know the horrors he was braving until he asked, ‘Could we bring the guitar?’
He thought we were leaving behind everything near and dear for the utterly unknown.”
(You can read her full story here.)