Attorneys are professional listeners. It may not seem like it, but that’s how we get the information we need to come up with the best solutions for our clients. Put another way, attorneys are professional problem-solvers. So color me surprised when JP told me on the plane to Seattle that he just wanted to tell me about his career confusion, but didn’t want a solution. Whatum???
Listening just for the sake of listening…interesting concept.
That same day, at Thanksgiving, I looked across the table and saw my 87-year-old grandmother sitting quietly while everyone else at the table talked to, well, everyone else at the table. The next night I decided I would put this new listening concept to work. JP and I bought grandma a bottle of champagne, made her dinner, and asked her to tell us about her wedding to my grandfather – the happiest moment in her life.
You may be thinking that this story is going to end with my grandmother having the next happiest moment in her life getting to tell her stories to her granddaughter. Not quite…
Grandma told the story of how she met my grandfather in Paris in late 1946; how they got married in the American Cathedral in Paris three months later; how my grandfather saved my great-uncle’s life the night before the wedding by grabbing the knife out of the would-be-killer’s hands as he tried to stab my great uncle in the back (no, I’m not making this up); and how all of the wedding photos show only my grandfather’s right side in order to hide the bandages from the knife-wounds on his face. Then Grandma handed me a large box of photos, lit another cigarette, and went back to watching the news.
I spent the next two days going through those old black and white photos of the view from their hotel window in Paris, my grandfather’s short military duty in Alaska, baby photos of my mom and her two siblings, and so many more. My grandfather died suddenly when my mom was only 8 years old, so I’ve never met him. Through the photos, I feel like I know him a little bit more…and like I know a little bit more about what it was like for my grandmother to be a 23-year-old military bride in post-war Europe.
But that’s not the best part of this story. At the end of my trip, I found my grandmother’s wedding dress, custom-made in Paris, in a nondescript box in the top of her closet! Every vintage-nerdy part of me just went electric when I found that little piece of history.
And to think, all of this because I (*gasp*) just listened with my non-attorney ears without looking for the insta-solution…