“P, call your grandmother.”
“Your grandmother called again. You need to call her soon. She’s always asking after you.”
“I will. Tomorrow morning.”
So, recently, a lot of semi-strangers have been sharing with me. People I wouldn’t call friends exactly. I get messages and emails from these acquaintances of whom I have very limited knowledge. In these messages, they share problems, frustrations, random facts about themselves and we talk about them.
Almost all of the time, these conversations are not initiated by me and I’ve been questioning their choice in confidante a lot. That is, what is it about me that made them feel comfortable enough to come to me? Most of these people know me only through Social Media, so I find it a tad puzzling.
But we talk. And I’ve found connections with these strangers. There are times I doubt my understanding of their situations and a lot of times, I doubt my response/advice to these situations. And all of the time, I’m afraid I’m saying something trite/useless/patronizing.
Is it okay to just say “Hey, I hear ya and I feel for you but I can’t help you here?” when I feel that way? Or do I have to come up with something wise backed up with a story of a similar situation I was in?
My grandmother is always asking after me. She calls my mother and says: “Tell P to call me. How is P? Greet P for me.” Thing is, she has two other granddaughters that don’t get asked about half as often. My grandma and my mum had a bit of a big tiff recently so I asked as a joke if grandma had transferred all her love for mummy to me since we look so much alike.
My mother came into the kitchen this evening while I was cutting chicken (who came up with the idea of putting the neck, gizzard and liver of the chicken into a clear bag and stuffing it inside the whole chicken? It’s spooky) and she told me, yet again, that my grandmother had asked after me. I spoke to grandma on Friday. Three days ago.
Then my mother reminded me of November/December 2012. I’d just finished NYSC. I was at home. Then my aunt died. My mother’s older sister. My grandmother’s first daughter. Everyone was distraught. (I wrote about it here.) Grandma was in our house that period. We did the funeral and everyone had to return to school or work. And it was just me and grandma at home.
She was quiet a lot those days. She did not take it well. She refused to eat or sleep. She spent a lot of time reading her Bible and staring out the window. Of course, I didn’t have anything to say to her. So, I’d hover about- urging her to eat, rearranging the curtains when the sun was high or bringing her a glass of water. That’s all I did.
But my mother told me this evening that when she told my grandma that my sisters were jealous of all the attention, my grandmother had said they shouldn’t be. She spoke of how I’d taken care of her in that period. Of how she owes me too much. About how good a kid I am. Guys, I didn’t do anything. But apparently, my nothing was worth everything to grandma.
So, I’m going to listen to these people talking to me. And I’ll remember when I’m tempted to go into some articulate speech rife with proverbs and anecdotes, that sometimes just being there is enough. An ‘mm’ and a *hug* may be all I have to offer; and it might be enough for somebody.