I’ve often said my dad was a natural goodwill ambassador.
He made friends everywhere he went. He did it with a handshake, a smile, a hug, and what I’ve come to realize as I think back, some really good listening.
There was something about him that made people respond to his friendly hello. Maybe it was the outstretched hand. Maybe it was a genuine smile. Maybe it was those grey eyes that looked right at you, really looked at you. Even the frostiest of personalities melted just a bit if they were around him.
Allan Erickson lived in a time when digital contact was just starting to be popular. He never used email or a cell phone; he never surfed the Internet. Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Zoom were still to be hatched. Yet he knew, made friends, and kept friends wherever he went from New York, up and down the East Coast to his retirement home in North Carolina. When he was with people, there was sure to be a hug, an arm link, a connection that lasted even after the gathering was over.
Living in the time of COVID
I wonder what he would do if he were alive today during this pandemic, not having that handshake, that ready access to a personal physical connection with people.
I’m sure he’d be cautious. I’m sure he’d be wearing a mask when he went out for “essentials.” He’d probably linger a bit to say hello to the Safeway cashier, CVS pharmacist, and the red-vested employees at Ace. He’d be proficient in thumbs-up, V for peace, head nods, and the American Sign Language hooked-index fingers sign for friend.
If he were a senior citizen as I am today he’d be sheltering at home. His square hands would hold the latest smart phone with the maximum saved contacts. His pudgy fingers would click on his laptop keyboard to send out zoom invitations. He’d be smiling that captivating smile from the zoom box with eyes that would look right at you, and you’d be pulled into that circle of good will.
I’m doing my best to be just like Dad.
More stories about Dad in Thinking of Miller Place. “Dad and Carol,” “The Sunday Climbing Tree” (also my Writing Life blog 7/23/2020), “Church Sundays.” Also Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. “The 7-Second Connection,” “Windows of Opportunity.” Both books available at Amazon or contact Ethel.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she’s writing to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it, and sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling , Tucson Tellers of Tales, and anywhere there’s a ZOOM mic.