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Why listening is the first step to being present

My grandma was possibly the greatest grandmother in the world. Call me biased, but I think I could find some cousins to back me up. My grandma did not influence me because of her activity in important historical events, her opinions of feminism or by being a career woman. What my grandmother taught me was far more important: Grandma taught me to listen.

Peg Plunkett was a friend to all she knew and compassionate to everyone, but it was her listening ear that made her the most amazing grandmother. With four children, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, she somehow found a way to listen to all of us. At any given time, she could tell you our birthdays and what was going in each of our lives. She treasured every conversation she had with us. Whether she was talking over strawberry ice cream or over the phone, she was always entirely present in the moment.

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I saw firsthand how her listening affected all the relationships she had. Just by listening, she had the ability to make you feel like you were the most important thing in the world. I was lucky enough to have my grandma living five minutes away by the time I was in high school. Distance didn’t matter — she always had time for phone calls from the kids and grandkids who were farther away. I remember being amazed how often everyone called Grandma.

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She was everyone’s compass — always there for help and guidance — but just having her listening to me was always the greatest comfort. I never had to be reminded to call my grandma when I moved out, I always wanted to.

The ability to sit and genuinely listen to a friend seems to be something that has gone out of style. It’s suddenly a world of constant text messages, but so much of the information is just lost in space. There is no better way to show someone you care than by listening. Whenever my grandma would remember a small detail of my life, I would feel so loved.

There are always distractions in the world: a TV playing in the background, a phone buzzing on the table, thoughts of upcoming deadlines and chores storming your head. To take the time to shut everything else off, even mentally, and actually listen to someone is the most thoughtful thing you can do. I am thankful every day that I had an amazing grandmother to show me how it should be done.

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