“Lets go for coffee!” such welcoming words, especially if you like coffee. For me, coffee warms and inspires. If I am sitting with a friend, the blessing is doubled. I need people, the give and take of conversation, the warmth of company. If I have something on my mind it is important that I talk to someone. I think it is a great favor when someone lends me their ear, so I have to be prepared for their opinion and be tolerant of it.

My problem is that when I am emotionally needy (as has been the case in recent years) I tend to cling to my friend. So before we part I try to give them something, too. I was not always this way. I had to knock around in the social world, misbehave, insist on my own way, be rejected then corrected, before I realized what was up. Truly! And I was over 60 at the time.

Then, more recently, I thought about a young friend of my family, someone so young I remember when he was born. Now he’s a dad with his own family. He is a most engaging person because he really listens to you. This is true no matter where you are or what the occasion. It was his dad’s 60th birthday party when I first recognized this amazing quality. He greeted me warmly and asked how I was doing and what I was up to these days. I was impressed because this is not standard social fare, at least not for me. Too frequently I wait impatiently to tell my story.

Come to think of it, my Howard was a lot like my young friend. He thrived around people, and he could always make them laugh. One of the most moving times I recall was when he called an elderly friend who was very ill. They talked guy talk for awhile, scolding each other for this and that and laughing like little boys. I only heard half the conversation, but I never forgot it and Howard’s booming laugh in the midst of it.

So, yeah, I’m working on being a better listener even when my heart is saying, “Hey, I need you…!”