My parents were visiting us for a week over Christmas. Toward the end of the visit I remembered a question I had been wanting to ask them. “You were both children during World War II. What do you remember, or how did that affect you at the time?”
“Sugar rations,” came my dad’s quick response. My mom remembered some things related to patriotism at school and seeing newsreels before the animated movies. We talked at length, and both of them seemed to have vivid recollections. Listening to them talk gave me a glimpse of them as children, because all of their anecdotes contained the kinds of details that reflected a clearly childish perspective. My father also talked about his father’s responses to certain aspects of the situation. I had never met my paternal grandfather, but he had been a soldier during World War I. I asked if my dad thought that experience had affected his protective response with regard to my dad’s older brother. This seemed to be a new thought to my dad, and it was interesting to watch him contemplate this in a way he had obviously not done when he was younger.
My mom wondered what had prompted the question, and as I explained, I sensed that she appreciated my interest. In a way, asking this type of question had been such an easy thing to do and had brought about such a rich conversation and connection with my parents. The thing that so often prevents this type of interaction, though, is failure to take the time to just sit and talk, and listen, like this. I’m glad that this time I remembered the question while they were still here and that I took the time to ask and to listen.