My dad is visiting this week and I’ve almost forgotten how carefully I choose my words. I’m frequently accused of being short or abrupt, but I really abhor excessive detail. Too many wasted words. Too much time lost. It’s not that I have anything important to do, but my ADD makes it incredibly hard to focus. In normal conversation, my eyes glaze over and I’m often left wondering how I will be able to endure the conversation. In effect, I never hear any of the conversation because the details distract me.
My dad likes to spend words frivolously with unnecessary detail and halting conversation as he thinks of more to say. Don’t get me wrong, I like spending time with my dad. I just wish it didn’t involve so much talking. Ironically, it’s his loose lips that have conditioned me to try to save my breath. In that respect, I’m a lot like my grandpa.
We were visiting my grandparents long ago. I think I was twelve at a time. Since my grandparents ran a farm, there was a lot of heavy equipment. This particular time, a Caterpillar was digging out the manure lagoon. My grandpa sees my brother and I in the house and asks, “Do you boys want to see a Caterpillar?” We were watching cartoons so we replied with an emphatic no.
His response was classic. He barked, “Get in the car!” We scurried to his Cadillac and he drove us about a quarter of a mile away to where the lagoon was being dug. I’m still staggered by this surreal situation, because he merely stopped the car, pointed to a big machine and said, “That’s a Caterpillar.” After about a minute and a half, he turned the car around and drove us back to the house. I don’t recall him saying anything else.
The differences in communication vary greatly between these two men. Nevertheless, I know I don’t have many more visits left with my dad as he is getting old. That doesn’t make ignoring his superfluous conversation any easier. As a matter of fact, he is talking to me right now. I’m just going to smile and nod my head so that he will think I’m listening.