I was gazing over to the side of my computer monitor the other day. It’s the place where I have photos of the people that are or were special in my life so that when I need a little reminder about what’s important, there they are.
Among the rag tag collection is the “In Loving Memory” thing they produced for my dad’s funeral. There he is, smiling away, in a picture taken probably ten years before he passed. He was older, slowing down, but mentally, everything was still there.
As he approached the final days of his life, there was a lot of failures. The body was giving out, the hearing selective at best, the wit sneaking out every now and then, but dulled by 90-plus years on this earth. However, going back to that picture–it made me wonder, did I really thank him enough for all he did? To appreciate all those things he did to support his family–working overtime, slinging bananas down at the docks in Long Beach when the United Airlines mechanics went on strike, managing the Little League team I played on. Those Pinewood Derbies, the camping trips, the times we went fishing.
I think he knew. But with Father’s Day approaching, it causes me to wonder.
I know I did my best on the last night of his life when he laid there, unresponsive but breathing, as his life slipped away. I spent the night and talked his ear off, clinging to the knowledge I heard somewhere (and I don’t want to check into its validity because I might find out it’s not true) that the hearing is the last thing to go. That you can still reach the person by talking to him and saying what was on your mind. I tried to re-live my entire life that night, enough that when the morning came and he left, he was probably thinking, “Great! Peace and quiet at last!”
I don’t know much, but I have come to realize that one of our biggest personal downfalls is living in the future or the past, but not so much in the present. We hang on to unpleasant things that we experienced or live in fear of what might happen in the future. Oh, I’m still guilty to a degree, but I try to remind myself daily, whenever I feel overwhelmed, to just enjoy the now.
At this particular point, the only noise in my office is the keyboard tapping as I write this. There’s no music, no TV in the background, the cat is sleeping (again), and later, I plan to wander out on to our deck and just breath in the air. The scent of cedars fills our backyard and can easily conjure up memories of those many family camping trips we took when I was a kid.
See, that’s the past, but a pleasant memory to savor like a vintage wine. It rolls around in the brain and then you put it away until a future moment. And that’s how easy it is to get distracted and leave the now.
Life is a collection of moments. You’re actually enjoying a few right now. Savor them. Cherish them. There millions and millions of people no longer on this earth who would do anything to experience just a few more.
And, at least for now, we’ve got all the moments we want.
Use only as directed.