Tuesday, October 27, 2020

As Long as We're Talking ....

“As long as we’re talking” was the mantra of my father, a man who worked in negotiations for thirty years. And I think often of his words in times of local and national debate. As I reflected on him this past Father’s Day weekend, I crafted a piece of commentary framing my dad’s words against a society in desperate need of greater communication. And, I was thrilled when the CS Monitor recently published the piece in its Home Forum Section. The response has been very positive, and I am so honored to be in the Monitor and to see my dad's words and legacy receive some attention. The piece begins like this:

My dad was a great talker. For a man who spent 30 years in personnel and labor relations, the most important thing to him was communication. It was a skill, an art form, a vocation, and a passion; it was the essence of his lively and loquacious spirit. Communication was his credo. “As long as we’re talking ...” he’d say. Everything would be OK, as long as we’re talking. It’s particularly important advice to heed in these times, when people seem more likely to shout.

Dad and I probably said too much in some discussions. We said more than we needed to as we tried to get the last word. We said things better left unspoken. But, for all we did say to each other, I know now, after he passed just shy of his eighty-fourth birthday, that for all our time speaking, we hadn’t talked nearly enough. And I’d give anything for one more chat.

It’s been a year now, and we’re still talking. Well, I am. He listens. And I really miss his voice. And I lament all the time we didn’t talk, the stretches when our politics got the best of us, the days and weeks we didn’t communicate. I can still hear his voice and his laugh. And now that he’s gone and I’m fifty, I hear him in my own voice. Despite his long successful career and a fifty-year marriage that produced three kids, Dad was fond of saying “I still haven’t figured out what I was put on this Earth to do.” He said that well into his seventies. He was always thinking about what came next. But we all knew why he was here - it was to talk.

So let’s try to start talking. And keep talking. Because as long as we’re talking ...

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