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, don't shut this off yet.' 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," said Hensley, "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, we may well have a communication problem.