What do you get a 93-year-old man that has been married 70 years and been a father for 60? The elderly woman at the antique store had a strong opinion, “The only thing you get someone who has lived that long is something to eat, they don’t want nothing else.” I went home and began baking for my father-in-law.
My husband however, had another suggestion. “He just wants us to be there and listen, listen to him tell stories, and remember.”
I remembered when I had gone to see my own Dad during the last summer of his life and I’d taken my tape recorder, hoping to record some of his stories. As a journalist he was comfortable with the recorder, he had actually taught me it was the best way to get your facts straight when doing research for a story. The plan was that we’d spend the week-end reminiscing and I’d have a collection of memories and stories. We started and then took a break for him to go to rehab at the hospital. On the way home from the hospital, he was hit by a car, and although he survived, he certainly was in no mood to reminisce. We never hit the record button again. The few minutes of recording I have; I’ve listened to countless times. There is something about listening to his voice, that is brings back memories, even more so than photos.
So, looking for an inexpensive gift solution for Father’s Day? Try listening. Try being fully present for someone. Your presence might be the best present ever.