I Guess When You Speak from the Heart, People Listen

Today I took my aunt to a commemorative luncheon that celebrated the life of one of her first cousins who had passed away last year.

The husband of the deceased gave a few words at the start of the luncheon, telling everyone that he and his wife had planned to have this luncheon to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, but she had passed away before they could do so. He told the story of how he had met his wife and what a wonderful life they had together. It was a beautiful story, and the love he had for his wife was obvious.

At the table where my aunt and I were sitting were the deceased’s brother, his wife, and other family members. I am sure I have met this brother a few times in my life, but it was likely only brief introductions each time. Besides recognizing his name, I have to admit I really did not know much about him.

But apparently, he has quite the memory.

When we shook hands today, the first thing he said was “You’re the one at Villanova, right?” I was taken aback that someone I barely knew would be aware of such a thing. Fortunately, he was a Villanova fan πŸ™‚

We had a wonderful conversation during lunch, and at one point the topic turned to the TV show, Antique Roadshow. As part of that discussion, he said to me “I remember when you mentioned at your dad’s funeral how he had sold his coin collection to help pay for your education.”

I was shocked. My dad passed away in 1993 and I had given a tear-filled eulogy at his funeral. I would have been surprised if anyone remembered what I had said during the eulogy an hour later at the luncheon, let alone 28 years later.

The remark left quite an impression on me.

It made me realize that there are people who do care enough to listen to what you have to say.

It also made me realize how powerful family ties can be. They are there to celebrate not only the good times but to support you during the difficult times as well.

While driving home, I came to the conclusion that I need to pay closer attention to what people have to say and that I have to work harder to build and maintain strong relationships with my extended family.

This is not the first time I’ve learned a life lesson at a memorial service. And while they have all been ones I should have learned a long time ago, I am grateful that at least I am learning them while I still have the chance to apply such lessons.

*image from FAVPNG


64 thoughts on “I Guess When You Speak from the Heart, People Listen

  1. Wow. I’m impressed as well.

    Not as monumental, but my cousins have mentioned how much they enjoy my humor on Facebook -which is a platform I turn to in social-interaction desperation. They hadn’t replied to any of these posts so I thought, like you, no one was listening…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So your dad sold his coin collection to help pay for your education? How nice to have a dad who would care for you that much. Maybe the reason why this distant relative remembers this so well is because the generosity of your dad greatly impressed him.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow! What a special moment to know he remembered a tribute that you said about your Dad all these years later. Yes, words from the heart can make a powerful impact for sure! ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How wonderful to have made such an impression that the brother remembered your thoughts so many years later. Of far less significance, sometimes I’ll run into an old student who is now an adult, and I’m amazed at some of the things they recall from being in my class. (Many times about stories I told) Your comment about sharing something personal from your dad’s eulogy rings true because I’m convinced it is those intimate moments that most connect us with others. Perhaps the brother was a compassionate person, and your remarks touched his soul.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My take from your essay is that the art of conversation which relys on listening and speaking is an important thing as oral histories while being subjective are a record of how we lived our lives as families. In that we need to learn to listen to what is being said and to also take the time to have those long conversations and in turn contribute to that oral history.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some things do create a lasting impression and we never know what that will be or how the impression will affect the other. I’m pleased the impression you made was positive. What a wonderful thing your father did for you. You’ve done him proud. I’m always surprised when I attend a service how much I find out about the person I thought I knew and I wished we discussed it when we had the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who realizes that they didn’t the full story on someone until you attend such a service, and you wish you had gotten to know them a bit better…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim, this is a nice message. I grew up without extended family. my father was an orphan and my mother’s sister lived on the west coast. I really don’t have much of a feel for the types of relationships you mention. I am building these adult relationships with my brother’s kids. They’re very satisfying. That coin collection story is pretty interesting. Of course that would only work with the cost of tuition, room and board was less than $3000 per year. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you have the opportunity to build those relationships with your brother’s kids. And while tuition was much cheaper back then, I’m sure that coin collection would be worth a lot more today as well…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! I need to learn to listen better and remember and be inspired by others! What an awesome tribute to your dad! I know I always get a happy feeling in my heart when somebody remembers anything specific about my dad so I’m sure that meant a lot to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s a really lovely thing to remember! It just goes to show how important listening to what others says actually is, and the impact it will have had on you for someone to remember the wonderful words you said in tribute to your dad!


  10. Jim!! I read this twice, then poured a glass of wine to read it for the third time. My goodness. You must be reeling. No wonder you wrote a blog post when you came home, and what happened had time to sink in.

    I often think about how everyone has ‘something’. Your aunt’s cousin’s husband had a remarkable memory that few of us have. That was his ‘something’. Don’t you think this is purposeful, meant to be? It has poured into you, flooded you, in the best of ways. Not only did he remind you of precious family stories, he left you with an impact that is for more than family stories. It was a ‘pay it forward’ as much as a reminder to pay attention to the words of family and friends. How wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for your beautiful words, Jennie. Yes, the deceased’s brother did seem to have a remarkable memory, and I appreciated that he remembered my words. Now I just need to start doing the same; as you say, pay it forward…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s such a touching and poignant story. I always think I’m the only one that latches on to those details, but it’s a good reminder that others do, too. And family ties matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A beautiful story Jim. You never who you’ll meet at funerals and weddings. I was touched by the lovely eulogy, as I struggle with pain writing one currently for a little ceremony I’m going to have for my husband when his headstone ever goes up. πŸ™‚


  13. I love this story! I too am touched when others listen to what I have to say and show me that they “see” me. It’s quite a powerful gesture of kindness. Thanks for reminding us of this important lesson! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.