What is the one question?

How well do you really know the people around you?

If you had asked me that before this week, I'd have been pretty confident in saying that I knew those close to me well.  Recent events however have changed that!

I went to the funeral of my neighbour who I've lived next door to for 8 years.  And in 8 years I had never found out that he was a passionate angler and President of all things fishing!  

Whilst driving out with the kids to meet friends this week, I drove past a young man lieing in the road bleeding from his head.  I stopped and did some First Aid whilst waiting for the ambulance.  When I got back in the car my kids said, "I didn't know you knew first aid Mum?"  I just assumed that through all the knocks, bumps and accidents that I had dealt with over the years, they'd worked out that I kinda knew what I was doing!  But why should they?  When I told them that I had done numerous first aid courses they were genuinely surprised - but now they know.

And that left me wondering, how much do we assume vs how much do we really know about each other?

Last week, I had a session with a lovely lady who lost her husband 18 months ago.  She told me how during his illness, they used to go out driving as it got him out of the house and the car was an easier place to ask those tough questions.  They talked and talked and had conversations they would not have had otherwise.  And that triggered the thought - how often do we not create the time to have those conversations?

A few years ago I bought both my parents a book and asked them to write down their life stories for me.  I admit, they found it quite a wierd request but both set to and a few months later, I got back the books with their stories in - and whilst some of it I was aware of, there were new things in there I had no idea about because we'd never had the conversations.  

With Mum's condition now starting to deteriorate, I am very aware that I still have lots of questions I have never asked and it frightens me that a time is coming when that opportunity will close.  A good friend of mine used to work in Salisbury hospital and I remember him saying that he saw so many instances of people losing a loved one and saying, "I wish I had told them that......."

These experiences this week have resulted in me determining to make two changes.  I now tell my kids more about me - and at the moment they appear to be loving it.  They love hearing about stories from my childhood, or the early days of my relationship with Nick.  And it is making us closer as a family too and creating much laughter at a time that we could all do with larger doses of that!

I also want to make sure that I have those questions that are still in my mind answered by my Mum whilst she still can.  And more importantly, to tell her the things I need her to know whilst I still can - because I dont want to assume she 'just knows'.  Finding the way to do that is not easy, but I will find a way because the implications of not doing it are far harder to deal with.  

So what do you assume you know about those around you?  What question could you ask that might create a conversation that could bring you closer?

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RE: What is the one question?

what a fantastic post... It is so true that the children have no concept, or little concept of life before them but as they get older ask more questions about our past lives. I love that! Each time I go to see my parents, mealtimes are important times for them to talk about when they were growing up and to reminisce, and the children seem to lap it up. Important times! My mother is typically less forthcoming than my father but can be encouraged if given the floor. The boys love it at Christmas to hear the tales of the Fountain boys getting into mischief and never seem to tire of hearing the same funny (naughty!) stories that Grandma tells
Commented by: Susannah on Monday 30th October 2017 07:52:35 AM

RE: What is the one question?

Dear Caroline This is a wonderful article; and so true! It has inspired me to do more things and I am going to use your idea about the parents writing a book; I think it is a great way to connect further with my mom and family. Thank you. Isabela
Commented by: Isabela on Sunday 29th October 2017 10:55:16 PM

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