This I Believe

Roberta - Denver, Colorado
Entered on May 15, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I am a talker. My siblings have always teased me about my mouth. They say it is very large in size. Maybe this is why I am a talker. I love the banter of a good conversation. But it isn’t just engaging discussion with family and friends that keeps me going. I also take great joy in the small talk that one can have on an elevator, in the grocery checkout line, at the bus stop, pushing a stroller or walking a dog. I love to lock eyes with a baby who is being pushed around the store and give a little wave. Babies have time to respond. And if I say, “You have an adorable baby,” the parent usually has time as well.

These informal venues require only a comment on the weather, a question about the identity of a root vegetable in the cart behind me, or guessing out loud to the guy ahead why he is paying for six envelopes of developed photos.

“Have you been on a trip?”

The reply, delivered with a huge grin is, “No trip, First grandchild.”

“Every photo of the kid?” I ask.

“You know it.”

One of my best friends and I walked our dogs together almost every day in my former neighborhood. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer we sometimes needed to resort to small talk on our walks because the subject at hand was too painful and scary and depressing to discuss each day as we sauntered around the lake on our usual path, in the most unusual and unwanted of her circumstance.

I’m thrilled to report that it has been seven years since she was diagnosed. She has been at her son’s wedding, has watched her daughter graduate from college and her youngest graduate from high school. She has traveled with her husband to Italy and France and soon will be going on safari in South Africa with a raft of Breast cancer survivors. She is well. At the very least, it didn’t harm her prognosis on those days when the gab turned to the dogs’ bad breath or what color the living room should be painted.

A connection with humankind in the world can be had with small talk. It is optimistic to greet one another and take just a little time for face-to-face words. “Hello. Nice weather. Lovely day for walking the dog. Green. The living room should be green.”

I do have a large mouth. Indeed, the dentist has asked me to “just close a little, please.” But my aging face lines are from offering wide smiles and talking about the weather with anyone who is open for just a little chitchat.