Closer to distant generations

Sometimes when I ring my Granddad (which I don’t do often enough) I talk to him for a good while. On those occassions, conversation has a natural ebb and flow, of the kind I achieve with closer friends, and we practically shoot the breeze. Don’t get me wrong: even then, our record duration for talking together on the phone is still definitely less than ten minutes. He’s not one for yakking, is Granddad.

Other times, though, it’s a bit more stilted. He gets tired easily, and I’m often more peopled out than I realise when I first pick up the phone to dial. So I quickly run out of things to say, and there’s a second or two of what you might call dead air. I think Granddad’s used to that embarrassment in different situations, though, as he has techniques to bring the call to a rapid close.

I’m always sad when that happens: whereas I once rang him out of a sense of duty, I now ring him out of choice. So if I fear I’ve left him imagining the worst about my motives for ringing—maybe: did his mother just ask him to?—then I feel like a bit of a failure. What do you say, though, when you’ve nothing to say? When you were both born in a culture where men don’t chat?

(Could I ever say what’s really on my mind? “I love you, you sweet old man. Don’t die. Not ever.” I don’t think so, although it would make a change from discussing the weather in Lancashire.)

This entry was posted in age, communication, death, emotions, family, fear, health, infirmity, love, person, technology, telephony, understanding. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Closer to distant generations

  1. looby says:

    I think if you said that the pauses would turn into full sides of an LP.

    My Dad simply cannot talk about anything which is even remotely close to heart. In one way that fortitude and dignity is something from which in these confessional times we could learn from; in many others, it’s simply irritating and distancing.

  2. sbalb says:

    I think that distancing is already there in the cultural component of the generation gap; trying to talk about emotional issues just shines a light on the sheer magnitude of it.

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