I met Helen when she lived in Celebration, Florida, where I was working at the time. We connected immediately, no doubt due to the love and presence of Jesus that radiated from every pore in her body, through her twinkling eyes, in her sweet words, and in her welcoming embrace.
Though she moved up north several years ago, but still stay in touch. Our phone calls may not be frequent but when we talk, it’s like no time at all has passed. And our conversation inevitably turns to our shared love for God.
In Saturday’s conversation, Helen made a comment that was profound. After acknowledging how grateful she was for technology and how during quarantine it has enabled her to stay in touch and “see” her family, she said that the purpose of today’s call was to hear my voice. Texting and email are fine, but she needed to hear me.
I completely understood.
Our adult kids quickly adapted to technology. And we older folk have had to embrace it as well because that’s what our families use to communicate. Texting is the name of the game. Phone calls are rare, often only used to convey an emergency situation or something else super important.
Likewise, a handwritten note is a thing of the past, voicemails are sporadic, and emails…do our kids even write emails other than for work?
Helen went on to say it’s not just that texting is the preferred communication choice, but that younger generations share info in short snippets. Poor grammar and spelling errors are excused, and if emotions are involved, no words needed, just toss in an emoji.
While this type of communication is better than not communicating at all, there are some pitfalls. You miss the joy of simply hearing the voice of a loved one. The older we get, the more meaningful it becomes to hear that voice. It seems many of us, by necessity, have adapted to the younger generation’s choice of brief text messages yet they have not returned the favor by adapting to our need to actually hear them tell us things.
Eliminating conversations also means we lose out on the verbal clues that are picked up not from the words spoken but by the emotion behind them, or by things not said, even by the pauses and silence. These clues are absolutely vital and enable a deeper level of understanding as they bypass the spoken or texted words.
In the last five years of my mom’s life, she wanted to talk to me every day. Because it wasn’t something I yet needed (and therefore didn’t understand) I had to make myself call. I also had to change my attitude if she called more than once a day. It didn’t take long to realize speaking with her daily was a gift not only for her, but for me as well. What I wouldn’t give to hear her voice once again.
While I can’t say if I will ever need a daily phone call, I can say that when my ears hear the voices of my loved ones, everything changes. Joy floods in, my mood is lightened, and my heart feels like I’ve received a warm embrace. At that moment, I know that I know I’m loved and cherished.
So, what’s the message and who am I speaking to?
The message to those younger than me is to stay in touch. Texting is good but throw in a phone call every now and then. We may not say it, but we need to hear your voice. We crave it at times. And hearing it changes everything.
And to folks my age…well, the message is the same. We, too, can rely on texting to show we care or are thinking about someone. It’s easy and quick. And perfect for staying in touch with those younger than us. Phone calls take time, and energy. But let’s remember how important they are and make every effort to call more often.
With ever so much love, Mimi