The lost art of conversation

I attended my friend’s grandma’s memorial service today. It was a beautiful, touching ceremony in a gorgeous temple. Everyone had amazing memories to share.

I always enjoyed talking to my friend’s grandma. She was so lovely and interested in everything going on around her. Yet until today, I wasn’t aware of a huge connection we had in common.

She owned a bookstore in New London, Connecticut and sold wholesale books to schools and libraries. All of her family members talked about how much she loved books. In that moment, I felt such profound sadness that I had never had a conversation with her about a book, and I wondered why, since I majored in English in college and then became an English teacher.

My friend’s uncle talked about how his mother was extremely adept in what he called the “lost art of conversation”. 

“She could keep a conversation going on with just about anyone,” he said. “Her secret? Never talking about herself. She kept asking question after question after question.”

That’s exactly how I remember her. I met her several times since I became close with my friend and her family, and we always talked about my life and how I was doing.

In that moment, sitting in the memorial service, it hit me that I had never asked what she had done before coming to live in DC. I usually pride myself on my art of conversation. Yet this one individual always made it so easy to shift the focus away from her, in her mastery of the art of conversation. I felt a moment of profound sadness and loss over the deeper discussions we could have enjoyed, had I simply asked her a question.