Someday I hope to attain the skill of knowing what to say. Let me add, knowing what to say in the moment not six hours later when I’m waiting for sleep to come. Because not only does the perfect response hours after the fact produce a sleepless night, but it would just be nice being able to carry on a conversation. Or not overly fret because I realize (at the same late hour) that my filter never kicked in. And I disclosed too much that didn’t need to be shared. Santa, that’s what I want for Christmas, to be a right words at the right time kinda person. Think your elves can manage that one? If I were in a Christmas movie they would.
Back here in the real world I’ll keep working on it. Like when someone asks me to come to her hypothetical funeral I’ll know what to say. And, as practice would have it, I now know what not to say. I will not say, “No, but you can come to mine.” Again. Granted, I am older so the probability is my funeral should take place first. The intent of the reply was pure. But as the words came out of my mouth the creepy factor set in. No, I will not invite anyone else to come to my far-off funeral.
Today I got to put to use some of my acquired social-speaking filtering. A few weeks ago, I noticed a work email for a new employee with the same last name as my mom’s maiden name. Not only that, but he has the same first name as my mom’s uncle. Sure, the connection is distant: his great-great grandpa is my grandpa’s much older brother. But this is a small town and according to small town law that makes us kin.
I sat on my discovery and didn’t do anything about it until today. I finally got the courage to email him. Yeah, I don’t know why I needed courage to make contact. It’s not as if I had a sinister agenda in reaching out. “You’re my cousin and I need a kidney and a million dollars and a place to live….” No, I just wanted to point out we are related. Even if it is in a distant sort of way.
In the subject line of my email I wrote, “Weird question.” In the body I explained who my mom is and a brief description of her lineage. I asked if he came from the same line. Though, to be honest, my dad and I had already pretty much figured out how long-lost cousin fit into the picture. I just thought he should know.
His reply (two hours later) was brief. He’s not that close to his dad’s side of the family so he has no idea. And here’s where my filter kicked in and the point you should be proud of me for. I let it go at that. And I refrained from telling him what his middle initial stands for (his signature has his middle initial). I’m 95% sure his middle name is his great-grandpa’s name (who is my mom’s first cousin). I also didn’t tell him I know where his relatives are buried in the cemetery – if he wanted to go there sometime.
I’m not going to lie; it took all I had to hold back. But now when I go to sleep tonight, I won’t reflect on my conversation and right before dozing off realize, “I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
See, even us old dogs can learn.