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Coffee with Mimi

By MIMI BECKER

Everyone has a memory, many memories probably, of people who have touched them, or influenced them. These people who leave their marks on our lives are far ranging.

Family members come to mind first without a doubt: a parent, a grandparent, a child.  Co-workers, parents of our children’s friends, a teacher, people with whom we have connections at some point, all are part of our lives and frame our thinking over time. So many people who become our friends through happenstance continue to be special even though they may not be in close proximity on a regular basis.

The truth of life is that people we know, love, have some relationship with, are not going to be with us forever. We lose touch through moves, job changes, or just passage of time and circumstances. 

While you may not have daily or even regular contact, there will be the day when you think, “I haven’t heard from her in ages,” and you pick up your cell phone and scroll through your contacts. The conversation is as if you talked just yesterday. 

So much may have happened in the intervening time, but you glide through the years covering the essentials of family, jobs, and retirement. Soon, and inevitably, the topics move into sometimes comical changes due to the passage of personal time.

After what is a phone battery busting length of time, you both know the visit must draw to a close and promise to keep in touch. It is the best feeling in the world to have spent the time together.

Both know that no matter how long it may be until one person takes a notion to call, there are still common links worth holding on to. These special relationships are never judgmental.  Neither minds that the other has been out of touch for so long. Neither makes excuses for the gap in communication. There will be another chance to catch up.   

It’s obvious; folks grow older, perhaps become ill or in fragile health. Maybe, I’m thinking too much about this, I am in THAT group, you know, the Baby Boomers.

But, I have way too many friends and acquaintances with whom I wish to remain connected for quite a bit of time to come. So, forgive me if I become a bit unsettled when I hear people say, “Well, he/she was 96 (or whatever) years old. He/she lived a good life.” 

Who’s to say what the life expectancy of a person is, or when that person does not have experiences and stories to contribute to the conversation? Goodness, everyone has a story to tell on a daily basis. We get so tickled when our granddaughter shares her observances and version of life. 

Mostly we let her hold forth on topics of her choice during our screen time visits. Often the conversation begins with, “Guess what, Grandmama?” That sure can take you down an unexpected road.

Our response is usually, “What?” as there really is no way of telling and it really doesn’t matter anyway. She’s just happy to talk with us, like the friend you haven’t visited with for maybe years.  Predictably, there will be an element of unfiltered observation which can give pause until there is an adult explanation of the reality.  

At the other end of the life’s spectrum, how lucky it is to have as a friend a special person with years of collected experiences. I’ve often thought about the perspective of those who have walked around the block a few times when many of us stay solidly in our own lane.  

Perhaps the experiences of the past few months could teach us something. The vast majority of daily communication has been in forms which have not included human contact.

In our normal world, an awful lot of words were exchanged while focused on a task. We worked on projects and schedules and issues. 

When a gathering was concluded, the encounter was checked off the “to-do” list and participants rushed off to somewhere else. We were right there within reach and we missed.  We missed the opportunity to share a good story.

During shutdown, we have been forced to communicate “virtually.” Boy, did we get tired of that pretty fast.

The meetings tended to cut to the chase, because we couldn’t abide the fuzzy, jerky, freezing picture. We were often relieved to be limited to 40 free minutes. Get it done and sign out. Any possibility of after meeting chit-chat was out the window by Zoom fatigue.

We had time on our hands, but we couldn’t revel in the human contact we, as it turns out, really crave.  As my granddaughter says, “Guess what, Grandmama.”

I think I would love it if we did a little more communicating just to share our stories. You know, listen when there is no agenda or minutes to keep. Hang around just to catch up.

We will still need “face time” and well charged cell phones for the good old fashioned long distance chat, but goodness, can we slow down during the day to catch up with each other while we have the chance?