One day I was lying on the bed, reading, when my mother came into the room. She held out a vase - a rather ugly vase. She asked, "Would you like to have this vase?"
I replied quickly, "No, I don't want it."
As she turned to walk away, I picked up something that said to me, wait a minute, there is something here. So I asked, '"Where did you get it?'"
She said, "Oh, I got it when I filled an order."
Filled an order? I thought - no communication here. So I asked, "What do you mean, filled an order?'"
"Well," she said, "when I was a little girl, the Smith Company mailed catalogs to people. I would take the catalog around the neighborhood, and I'd get people to order from it. When I filled an order and sent it in, they gave me a prize. One time, I got a porch swing for my family."
Now you have to understand that my mother is 81 years old. She is one of six children in a family that her father deserted when she was quite young. Money was real hard to come by. My grandmother managed to keep the family together through the years, although I don't know how. For my mother to win a luxury like a porch swing was a significant accomplishment. Although she no longer had the swing, she had the vase -a vase full of meaning - which she offered to me.
Instantly I said, "Mom, I want the vase." Now it sits in a prominent place in my living room.
It symbolizes a precious meaning which my mother and I share. Unless you and I are sensitive to the other person and hear meaning, as well as words, we may miss wonderful opportunities in life.