Magazine article U.S. Catholic

A Different Kind of Conversation

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

A Different Kind of Conversation

Article excerpt

My family is best understood through our use of language. Weekly hour-long phone conversations. The notes I would throw down the stairs after I was sent to time-out when I was little: "Dear Mommy, I wasn't trying to be a brat, I'm just really hot and I want a fan!" Books, thousands of which line the walls of my parents' house. The words we use to share, to pray, to celebrate, and to fight.

But some of the most important conversations I've had with my family weren't in words at all. And this is an important lesson I have learned: It's not always verbal conversations that communicate meaning the best.

Take, for example, my dad. He's an anomaly in this extended family of big talkers, and talk for him often seems utilitarian. Our phone conversations go something like this: "I'm outside, looking at the goats. The chickens are doing well. I planted some herbs in pots on the deck this year. I'm going to make lamb chops for dinner." He's not big on sharing feelings or deep conversations about God and the universe.

It took me a while to realize that it's not that my father lacks language: He just has a different way of communicating. He shows feelings and consideration not through words but through actions. Like the time he drove four hours when I had mono to bring me clean towels and empty the cat box. Or how he and I cook Thanksgiving dinner together, bickering the whole time about the best way to cook a turkey.

The best conversations I've had with him have been through music. …

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