(Don’t worry, this is a temporary aberration. I promise I’ll be back to my usual foolishness next week.)
I try to avoid being serious whenever possible, but my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer last Thursday so I’m not quite myself this week. We knew his time was getting short so we were able to say our goodbyes, but many people aren’t so lucky.
The following is a post I wrote ‘way back in 2013. I didn’t share it at the time because it was more solemn than I generally like to be, but today it seems fitting.
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I’m at the age where mortality starts to get up in my face a little more each year. One of our friends just died of a heart attack at age 47, another at 50. Other friends are being diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, you name it. “Catching up with the news” used to mean hearing about happy things like weddings and babies. Now it’s diseases and funerals.
You just never know when your time is going to run out.
I drive the highways quite a bit, and I see lots of memorials beside the road. One I pass frequently is a white cross with a hard hat and safety vest hanging from it. There are bouquets of flowers beside it in the ditch, along with hand-lettered signs that say, “Miss you, Dad”, and “We love you, Dave”.
The little roadside shrines always make me sad. Sad that somebody lost a loved one in an accident, but sadder still that Dave’s buddies probably never said, “We love you, Dave” while he was alive.
Why is it so hard to tell people what they really mean to us? Imagine how Dave would have felt if one his buddies slapped him on the back and said, “Man, I love working with you. Your sense of humour makes my day.” Or whatever they loved Dave for.
Maybe he made up rude song lyrics and sang them off-key and it made everybody laugh. Maybe he bought a round for the guys every Friday night. Maybe he was always willing to swap a shift so a co-worker could go to his kid’s hockey game. Or maybe he was the sympathetic ear everybody turned to when they needed to blow off steam. Whatever it was that made him special, I’ll bet Dave never knew how much they appreciated him.
And now it’s too late to tell him.
We’ve got so many commercialized occasions for “heartfelt” cards and gifts. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day are fine, but they’ve become obligations and you’re in trouble if you miss them. So you stuff a card in an envelope; buy some flowers; go out for a nice dinner; bang-boom-done-for-another-year. All the “heartfelt” your money can buy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we created a new occasion? No cards or gifts allowed. Just one day out of the year where our only obligation is to say something nice that we’ve thought to ourselves but never said.
And not just to parents or spouses. How about to co-workers, doctors, baristas, teachers, or cleaning staff? No big embarrassing fanfare, just a quiet, sincere “You make my life better”. Or “We love you, Dave”.
Nobody else even needs to know we said it. Only the person who truly needs to hear it.
Maybe we could do it more than once a year, too.
It’s just a thought.
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And on that note, thank you to all my readers. I don’t blog because I like flapping my virtual gums; I do it because you wonderful folks brighten my day with your comments. Thanks for taking the time – you’re the best!