Easter was special. Not since my sons’ experienced Easter has it been as special. This Easter was the first for my grandson, Alex. Alex is just over 6 months old, with blue eyes and of course, he’s perfect.
Alex lives in Wichita. It had been a few weeks since we had seen him last, and he arrived in Hays the Saturday night of Easter weekend. Oh, what changes. Before, we would scoop him up and show him the world, going from place to place, and occasionally catching his eye and talking to him. I was not sure for a long time how much he could really see given his young age and immature eyes.
Easter it was different. Now, he is crawling, going on his own from place to place. Picking him up, I discovered his head on a swivel, taking in the world and rarely looking at me. He would squirm to get down to do his own independent exploring. I noticed that my son, Dan, and my daughter-in-law, Caley, frequently dropped to the floor to play with Alex.
So, I did as well. I got down on the floor, and crawled and explored with Alex. Suddenly, we were really connecting. He would crawl, find something, and turn to look at me as if to ask, “Do you see this?” He would crawl around, making eye contact and verbalizing things I could not understand. He would crawl up to my face, look me in the eye, and reach out and touch me.
I realized I was really getting to know Alex. We were really sharing. We were really communicating, together, grandfather and grandchild. We explored together. We played together. We were on the same course. I could tell his mind was eager to grow, assimilate, and learn. It is amazing how fast a child like Alex can learn.
The other day I had an interesting meeting with a new family in my office. I sat there with the husband and wife. The meeting had gone quite long, but there were lots of moving parts: a lot of assets, health issues, family situations, and some worries. It took over an hour for me to just get a good feel for my clients, their family, and where they wanted to go. The next hour was spent with us working out a plan with them.
At the end of the meeting, I apologized for taking so long. The wife said something interesting to me. She had said that they had visited with a couple of other attorneys, and that the meeting was the first time “that someone talked at our level.”
It was not me talking down to her. It was she, her husband, and I at a level where we all needed to be to communicate effectively. I needed to understand their concerns, goals, and aspirations, but to do so I needed to “get on the floor.” Plus, I needed to be sure our conversation and plan really addressed their concerns one by one, on a level that we both understood and could communicate.
I always appreciate it when a meeting ends with a warm handshake or a hug (this was a hug meeting). We were truly communicating.
I have been at those appointments with say, a doctor, and before I could get out a few words, my problem was diagnosed, I was told what to do, I was given some pills, and I left wondering if he really knew all the facts, and whether his diagnosis would be different if he had only known more.
Please, when you are faced with life’s speed bumps or barriers, or major decisions, be sure to get eye to eye with the person from whom you are seeking guidance. I am always afraid that unless I get eye to eye, I am going to miss something terribly important.
Sunday evening we bid farewell to Alex, Dan, and Caley. My knees and back were kind of sore, but I know that Alex got to know me, and I him. I also discovered I could still crawl and survive.
Randy Clinkscales founded Clinkscales Elder Law Practice in 1985. He is a 1980 graduate of Washburn Law School and has represented clients at the administrative, county, state and federal levels.