The most precious “activity” – Times News Online

When we arrived in Maine for our long-awaited vacation, my daughter Andrea had a question for her sister.

“What activity do you most want to do?” she asked.

“Speaking,” replied Maria.


Andrea tried to ask the question in another way.

“I’m trying to plan our week, so I’d like to know what you most want to do,” he said.

Maria gave the same answer. “I really want to talk to my family,” she said.

“Of course we’ll talk,” Andrea said. “What more do you want to do?”

“I just want to talk to my family,” Maria repeated.

Andrea gave up on getting any kind of useful information from her sister, so she went to the lake dock to find me.

“Hey mom, what do you most want to do here in Maine?”

My highly organized daughter wanted to make sure we scheduled enough time for the way we most wanted to spend our visit to Maine.

“I just want the joy of talking to my family,” I answered truthfully. I didn’t know how Maria had answered the question, but we both gave the same answer.

Andrea was frustrated. “We talk almost every day,” she said.

Yes, but there is a difference between staying in touch as we go about our day and the kind of meaningful conversation Maria and I are referring to.

Usually when I talk to my daughters, the phone conversation is usually short and rushed. Andrea often rushes to appointments with her interior design clients. Maria works from home but still has work deadlines to meet along with frequent zoom conferences. When I call them first I ask if it’s convenient to talk.

They never let me down. If I want to talk about something, they always make time. But as someone familiar with the pressures of the daily work world, I recognize the difference between work mode and free time to share.

While they often call on the phone, the calls are often more akin to “checking in” with each other. Important, yes, but not rewarding for the soul.

My daughters and I are close and people often comment that we share a lot with each other.

We make.

But sharing is different when we are together for a long, leisurely conversation.

Maybe it’s different when you live close to your family and see them often. When we only have a precious week or two together, we deeply value our conversations.

When Maria and I were relaxing on the dock at one point, our conversation stretched back years. I was happy that he wanted to explore our feelings, feelings that we didn’t talk about in previous years. We were both pleased by the understanding we gained from our conversation.

I don’t think that would have been possible on the phone, no matter how long we talked.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that even if you’re often together with family members, you can’t have those important deep conversations if you’re always busy with group activities.

It takes a one-on-one conversation to really get to know each other.

My grandkids and I try to arrange some one-on-one time. They tell me what is going on in their lives and I tell them stories about my past. I am well aware that one day I will be gone and they will never learn anything about me again.

They always make me laugh and liven up every family gathering. Grandson Grayson, one of those people who makes it a party just by being there, took time off work so we could spend time together.

I can hear what’s going on in his life from his mother, but nothing beats hearing him tell his stories.

I often joke that when Andrea was born, she should have arrived equipped with a built-in, high-output motor with the throttle going full throttle.

Always on the go, he loves activity. She equates activity with fun and it is her advance planning that sets up our days of fun for her whole family.

To give us a meaningful vacation in Maine, he put a lot of thought into taking us to quaint little towns and lobster shacks with the best lobster rolls.

She didn’t have to go far to take me to the place in Maine that I love the most. It’s right in her backyard. Lake Damariscotta with its spectacular scenery, inviting coves and tall trees that seem to reach the sky is a nature lover’s delight, especially when viewed from a kayak.

Paddling slowly enough to watch the eagles in the trees and admire the water lilies in the cove filled me with delight.

At the end of each day, Andrea produces amazing healthy meals, and the best part comes while we sit at the table.

In our family, dinner is much more than eating. It is a time for family togetherness, a time to laugh, discuss and tell stories.

My son-in-law Greg is one of the most engaging conversationalists I have ever heard. It is a pleasure to spend time listening to him tell “the story behind the story” in his documentaries.

Not surprisingly, both Maria and I answered “talking” as the activity we wanted the most.

When you often don’t have enough time to spend with your family, long conversations with your loved ones are incomparable.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at [email protected]

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