The Connection

We all have certain snapshots of our childhoods that take root in our minds

There are moments in time that just seem to capture the essence of what life was like for us – or at least how it seemed life was like for us – in those years when we are first discovering who we are.

One poignant snapshot for me is a bit of a blur, as the image was framed as I was eagerly running through the kitchen to go play outside. But it’s an indelible image of my mom sitting in the kitchen at her little desk, talking on the beige wall phone, its long spiral cord all tangled up in knots because we kids had been playing with it.

This was not a common sight.

Mom was the CEO of our tribe, and the kitchen was command central.

Children did homework at the counter, Mom folded endless reams of laundry, and the smell of meatloaf permeated the air. That meatloaf would be on the table by 6, and she did all that – and much more – without the support of her husband who, considering the times, was filling his traditional provider role. With all she had to manage, Mom rarely sat down at all, let alone in late afternoon.

I’m sure this is why the sight of her laughing and talking with her dear friend Mrs. Koch really struck a chord with me, even as I had much more fun things calling my attention outside.

Mrs. Koch and my mom had a connection, and not just through the phone.

Each of them had a passel of kids – five each, to be exact. And Mrs. Koch was the CEO of her own tribe, with all the same duties as my mom. They saw each other or talked almost every day. There was nothing complicated about their friendship. In fact it was pretty simple. They did not share book clubs or engage in competitive discussions about whose kid was involved with what. They didn’t feel conflicted about leaving high powered careers. Without judgment or expectation, they were simply there for each other, sharing the day to day ups and downs of raising a family.

Yet there was something special about that particular call, on that particular afternoon. In the midst of all the busy-ness of their lives, these two women had carved out a space just for themselves. The call wasn’t an emergency, or a call to make an appointment with the dentist. It was a call for the purpose of connection.

My mother’s whole being – her face, her posture, and her attention – was completely focused on that conversation. Just beyond their consciousness, my mother and her friend were taking the time to breathe, and rejuvenate each other. There was joy and peace, and this was obvious even to a child sprinting through the room on her way out the door.

It wasn’t just a phone call. It was a powerful connection.

If by chance we skip the urge to send an email or text to a friend, and we pick up the phone to give her a call, how often are we sitting at a quiet spot completely present and disconnected from all the “noise” around us? How often are we multi-tasking and focusing on other things as we talk?

I know I am guilty of allowing the clutter in my life to get in the way of that pure and total connection.

Mom and Mrs. Koch live far away from each other now, and both are widows approaching eighty years old. Much about their lives has changed, of course, and there is little that they can be certain of from one day to the next.

But one thing is for sure. When they talk on the phone, they will still sit down and truly listen to each another – this time, on a phone with no cord.

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