Silent Talking


My husband recently said to me, “Do you know what you don’t do when you are taking care of mother?”  I said, “What’s that?” He said, “You don’t talk to mother very much, and I always talk to her."  I said, “I know that but realize that you have always been a talker, my family did not talk to each other, and mother and I did not talk to each other.”

Unfortunately some of us grew up that way, not being able to communicate to a parent, sibling or spouse and often our kids as well.

I was ‘forced’ into talking by my husband who insisted I communicate, and secondly by being pushed into the world of retail where I spent the next 20 years!  I kind of had to learn to talk to people!  But when it came to family members, specifically the immediate family, talking was still minimal to none.

I speak few words to mom in the normal everyday process of taking care of her, mostly those which need to be spoken.  But every once in awhile, I will think of something funny…get my face up close, look in her blue eyes and wait for the twinkle and the slight upturn of her mouth as the deep trenches of her face relax in that ever so slight acknowledgement of the haha I had just made.

I can’t talk just to be talking, just because that is what I am supposed to be doing, I can’t force it.  I want what I say to count for something, make a difference however brief, in mom’s day.

I have a book, Daily Comforts for Caregivers, by Pat Samples.  It was given to me by Senior Services here in town.  An entry in the book talks about a caregiver talking to the one she cares for or the many instances of not talking at all.  I would like to offer this passage from Pat Samples book.

“My words do make a difference at times, but there are other times for silence.  If my words are not working, it may be best to stop using them.  Just being with my loved one is enough.  My silent presence is the gift I give.  No words are necessary.  What is created in the silence is room for our two souls to rest together and contemplate.  We have a sacred time to be in each other’s presence without expectation.  If there is anything to communicate, love is the language spoken.”  (Sample, 1999)

This entry in Pat’s book helped to ease the guilt I have felt because I do not know how to talk to mom and never have.  Now I wish I could talk to her more, but perhaps what I do is enough, speaking to her silently in the language of love.

Sample, P. (1999).  Silence together. Daily Comforts for Caregivers. P. (81) Fairview Press, Mn. MN

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