Time to return to old-fashioned art of conversing

‘Healthy Living’ by Carl Hendrickson

Carl Hendrickson

Carl Hendrickson

By Carl Hendrickson

Sometimes I slip and tell a grandchild that the milk or juice is in the “icebox” — a phrase foreign to him or her.

My mother prepared meals on a coal stove. Today, my grandchildren get prepared meals heated in the microwave and milk and juice from the refrigerator.

Yes, I grew up in a simpler time, a time of innocence in which one didn’t lock the front door or check to be sure the windows were tightly closed. When I was growing up, families and neighbors would gather on the front porch or around the kitchen table and talk. They would discuss matters that were important to them, that they cared about and in which they believed.

They engaged in conversation.

Conversing is a full meal; communicating today is snacking, as people no longer converse face to face. Communication is done through electronic means in bite-sized chunks. These communications are informal and condensed, failing to convey the emotional message. Electronic messages don’t carry the emphasis, tone or pitch of one’s voice. When we don’t hear a voice and see the messenger, it is often difficult to understand the context of the message.

Before you think of me an old fuddy-duddy living in the past, I assure you that I realize the importance of electronic messaging. I recently completed a course through the local community college on PCs and electronic communications.

Slowly I am moving into the 21st century.

Nevertheless, I do advocate a return to the old-fashioned art of conversing. Gather with friends and neighbors and talk, face to face. Converse with family. As I grow older, I make more and more visits to the funeral home to pay my respects and offer my prayers to a family that has lost a loved one. I now realize that the kind words spoken at the funeral of a loved one are insufficient. I realize that I should have spoken these words to him or her while living.

Where to begin? The Red Hat Society is an organization of women 50 years old and older who gather periodically for lunch or dinner and conversation. My wife belongs to the local chapter. I have suggested to my friend Howard, whose wife also is a Red Hat, that he and I should start a ROMEO — Retired Old Men Eating Out — chapter.

Food and conversation go well together.

Several of us get together for dinner and conversation every couple of months. We use email to confirm the time, date and place, but dinner time is left for conversing.

Tom, an avid fisherman, regales us with stories of the fish he caught, showing us pictures or tales of the big one that got away.

Judy, whose grandchildren live out of town, often shares stories and pictures of her most recent visit. We could do this electronically, but one would miss the excitement in Tom’s voice as he talks about a recent fishing adventure or the pride in Judy’s eyes as she speaks of her grandchildren.

Reader, return periodically to the age of innocence. Put aside the electronic devices and sit down with family, friends or neighbors for an hour or two and converse face to face. You will not only communicate emotions, but will develop healthy, supportive interpersonal relations.