I have one of those faces. You know the kind I’m talking about. I’m the one who forgets all the self-protective or task-oriented protocols and makes eye contact with you and smiles sweetly in the grocery store, or standing on the sidelines at the soccer game or, yesterday, sitting in the visiting room at an assisted living facility. The next thing you know, you’re telling me your life story, or a snapshot of it.
Yesterday, while waiting for my wife to visit a parishioner in said assisted-living facility, I camped out in the visitors’ lounge and played Bejeweled on my iPod. I had every intention of minding my own business, not looking up, not talking to anyone (especially strangers!)
Across the room from me were 4 generations of a family. A 94-year-old woman, S, who lives at the facility, her 60ish year old nephew, M, and his wife, their 2 daughters, and the 2 daughters’ 3 young sons (ages 6-8, I’m guessing.) S kept trying to figure out who these young boys were. She doesn’t see them often and she has it all written down but it’s back in her room, or maybe she has it in her purse and is this one Nathan or Jared and which one isn’t here? After the fourth or fifth time through this line of questioning, where her various family members were correcting her, I looked up and made eye contact with M and smiled, thus breaking the seal of the gasket of the isolation bubble I had around me.
The next thing I know, they’re including me in the conversation, and S is asking me if I can believe how beautiful these boys are. On their way out of the visitors’ lounge, M stops and tells me his aunt’s life story, the one minute version.
After S’s family left, she came back into the lounge and sat down with another family and told them all about the visit, bringing me into the conversation as necessary to verify the details of her story. “What were those boys’ names again? Weren’t they such beautiful children??”
So this lovely Patty Larkin song is for them, and for anyone else who finds themselves constantly surrounded by people, but still feels alone, in that “Who holds your hand when you’re alone?” kind of way. The kicker to this is that some friends of ours took us to the concert where this video was recorded. And, true to form, it was SO much better live. If you ever get a chance to see this woman work her magic on a guitar, take it.