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April 08, 2006

'It's sure nice talking to you.'

"You little shit. Where've you been the last three days?"


I was always a bit surpised at the colorful language.  My devout Irish Catholic Mother would normally no more curse than miss Sunday Mass. Except when her children did not call or drop by.


Her family was her life  – a stay-at-home mom and wife, the type common to, and under appreciated in the ‘50s and ‘60s.


As she grew older, and my Dad died, she waited by the telephone for her three children – all living across the U.S. – to call.


We did not fully appreciate how much her universe, her life, was shrinking as we moved pell  mell into our own  middle adulthood.


She kept scrapbooks on each child, photographs, newspaper clippings, and  school report cards – some that made The Richmond Twins look like The Class Clowns...or worse..


We would smile and glance at each other when Mom  pulled out this box of memories.


Today, I understand her love and intensity. I feel it for my own grown sons..


Each telephone chat has value..


Yesterday, I visited my oldest son and his family. They’ve bought their first home, and are busy  removing old wallpaper, replacing toilets, and juggling  a two-career family.


We ate sub sandwiches on a card table in the dining room.


Driving home on ice slick highways, I realized my son and I had “connected” most in recalling shared memories and friends.



Time and attention are the greatest  gifts.



Harry Chapin captured that in his 1970s lament,


  … My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do."

… I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."



Grandma Richmond, Josh and Scott, '80s