Serious, For Once

(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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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!

73 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Life

73 responses to “Serious, For Once

  1. My deepest sympathy….it is so hard to watch a loved one loose their life that way….my mom struggled for a number of years and as the end came all of my siblings and my father were able to have some one on one time with her and speak openly about the impact she had on our lives and her to share the same to us….It’s 26 years later and I still miss talking to her, but that really helped the grieving process….thanks for sharing your loss!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth Barber

    Diane – Because there won’t be a day that goes by that you don’t think of him, smile at something he said, or remember a lesson he taught you, Dad will always be with you. He helped guide you to become the independent, strong woman you’ve become. We, as your readers, know him through you and mourn his passing, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. moondance4me

    My condolences to your hubby and to you for your loss. Being the last In my immediate family, I’ve felt the grief several times over. It’s always hard but the first time it happens is most likely the worst. I truly do feel for your husband. When my dad passed I was inconsolable. I felt like he would always be there for me, my safe place to go, my ultimate protector, my shining Knight. Finally having to go to a doctor as I got to where I couldn’t swallow solid food! Whew, talk about a rough patch? I had acres of it to wade through. Saying it gets easier with time is not exactly the truth of the matter. In time, the memories come easier, with fewer tears maybe. Eventually there will be laugher, along with the occasional tear, but smiles none the less with the memories.
    My family was never an openly affectionate bunch. We just sort of knew, the love and loyalty was always there. It was shown in other ways, mom would take our hand and squeeze. Dad would place a hand on a shoulder and give a little squeeze and a pat. He was the quiet. When I left home to get married, he actually hugged me and I saw a tear slide down his cheek. I guess I really felt like his baby girl more then ever. Saying the words weren’t hard, we just showed it more than said it. Nothing wrong with hearing it tho’, for sure. I mean, my hubby says he loves me and to this day, I melt. LOL
    Letting people know how much you care is important. Whether it’s actual love or deep caring for someone, let them know. It could mean the world to them.
    I don’t get out much, don’t have a lot of friends to go with or to. Hubby’s health now, years of working outside the home limited my connections to just the work place, all that came down to a fairly small circle. I guess that’s why reading is so important to me. It’s my escape, my “world” to travel. My adventures. When I have the quiet time I can write too. I’ve put down most of my early, youthful, adventures and misadventures. My daughter knows where to find them and I know one day she’ll get a large charge out of Mom’s story. My mother wrote her own, called it “64-40, the Woman’s Side”. It did open my eyes too. Telling people you care, show it if you can’t say it, it matters. It could mean the world and all to someone, just knowing that you accept the fact that the person is there, that they belong, that they have a soul that is hurting, could be the difference between a smile and a tear.

    I am in the beginning of #11. Wow, already, a big Wow! I already feel, again, like I am right there along with them.
    Blessed Be to you and your hubby Diane. Be there for each other.
    Love your blog, love your talent, love the connection you share with us all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your sympathy and blessings, and also for sharing the warmth of your memories. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. And I hope you’ll consider me and the regulars on this blog as cyber-friends to broaden your circle. I always enjoy your comments and I’m sure everyone else does, too.

      I really, really hope your mom’s and your adventures get published someday soon! Judging by the few adventures you’ve shared here, I think you’d have a blockbuster book!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My condolences.
    Talking of saying how much someone means to you, I would like yo say thank you. I’ve been going through a tough time at the moment, but your books and your blog have made me smile, with your wicked sense of humour making me laugh. Its the little things that make life seem brighter. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My sympathy to your husband and yourself for your loss. Cancer is a hard one. You have to watch and there is nothing you can do. Your post is so right on. We need to tell those we love that we do in fact love them. Every day if possible, because to morrow is not ever a given.
    You, my dear, are so much more than a pretty face and a string of bad jokes. You bring joy and laughter to so many, and with the odd post like this, some deep thinking too. You are appreciated! Cyber hugs to you and your husband.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, thank you! That’s so nice of you to say. I always appreciate your warped sense of humour, too, and I’m awed by the depth of historical/political knowledge you display on your blog. (And now I’m giggling because anytime I write “I’m awed”, my brain automatically converts it to “I’m odd” – many truths are spoken here…) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m very sorry for your families’ loss. The void left by the death of a parent can never be refilled and it will be a constant reminder to do just what you said in this post: Never stop telling your loved ones that they are loved. My mother passed when I was twelve and she has been in my thoughts every day for over sixty years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your sympathy. And I’m so sorry you lost your mother at such an early age. I was 19 when my mom died, and it seemed as though the whole world went away with her. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you at 12.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jenny_o

    Diane, so sorry for your and your husband’s loss. It’s hard, even if the end is anticipated and a release from pain and suffering. It took me two weeks to finally go from relief to grief when my dad died. He was paralyzed for the last eight years of his life after a major stroke. Overnight his life as he knew it changed completely. It made me realize how fragile our little life bubbles are, and made me commit to speaking up to those I appreciate and those I love. But a reminder is always a good thing. And it made me realize I don’t think I’ve told you how much I love your wit and your smarts. Thanks for sharing them so generously here. And take care of your husband and yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Diane, so sorry for your loss. I too just lost a childhood friend last week. You are absolutely right. We never tell most people we know how we feel about then. Thank you for reminding us that just a few words brighten up ones life. Love ya kid you brighten up my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ken Chalk

    You are spot on with this blog. Unfortunately I believe that a great number of people are embarrassed to say something like that for whatever reason and I just wish that we could do those things without embarrassing the other person or thing the other person is has alter your motives other than saying I really love you I really enjoy your blogs and I get it once in a while seriousness does count.

    Ken

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ken! You’re right, the other half of the equation is for people to learn to feel comfortable accepting the nice things said to them. Sometimes that can be as difficult as overcoming the discomfort of giving a heartfelt compliment.

      Maybe we all just need more practice both giving and receiving. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • You nailed it, Diane. For some, it seems to be much easier to offer praise or accolades or affirmation or encouragement, etc., than it is to receive it, and by receive, I mean accept it and internalize it and believe it. It’s actually easier to do without it or even avoid it than it is to have to *deal* with everything that such things mean.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. Even though it may have been expected, it is never easy. I love your writing and I’m glad we found each other on WP.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so sorry to hear about his death. He was a sweet guy.

    Jo-Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jo-Ann. He truly was a sweet guy. A week before he died, when his memory was completely shot, he was worrying about buying a card so he wouldn’t miss his wedding anniversary. (It wouldn’t have been until October). He didn’t know what day it was, but his loved ones were still his top priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. el Tea

    Thank you for sharing a tiny bit of your grief with your blogging friends, Diane. The loss of my father was devastating and I moved in dazed confusion for at least a year. No one ever told me that a first major loss like that would cause such dementia-like symptoms. Thankfully it is a temporary phase. Even though it is a normal part of grieving, a grieving person will be very altered for a good long while. My deepest sympathies to you both. I pray that your grief will allow you to cherish each other more deeply, along with friends and family. Please tell your dear tolerant husband how much this particular member of your readership appreciates the gift of your time, talent, skill, humor, and humanity that is given so generously to the world. Virtual hugs to both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind and compassionate words (and your virtual hugs), el Tea. Both my parents are long gone so I’m more familiar with the grieving process than I’d like to be, but I hope that will help me provide better support for Hubby. He’s a very resilient guy, so we’ll just take it as it comes.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Billy B Cook

    Cancer is a bitch, I’ve sat at more than one bedside and watched folks die of it, starting with my dad at a young 44 back in 1965, One of my sisters also died of it at about sixty, and my favorite Uncle at about 65.

    There is no understanding some things, I worked with and ingested all kinds of things that that promote cancer, and have smoked for 55 years and I’m still romping along in pretty damn good shape at 72 acting like I’m still 40. Why I’m still alive is a mystery to me considering all the things I have done and the adventures I have had, too damn stubborn and ornery to fall over and die I guess.

    At the rate things are going I hope there is still someone left to cremate me. LOL. Oh, nevermind, I have no issue with the bugs eating me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Valerie

    So sorry for your family’s loss, Diane. This is a difficult time we live in; it seems like every time we hear from someone, a close friend or relative of theirs is dying from cancer. Both of my daughters have in-laws that are in that situation right now. I lost a sister a year and a half ago. I agree with you about taking the time to tell people how important they are to you or how wonderful they look, or even to compliment a stranger if they are wearing something particularly flattering. So much of our day can be focussed on what we have to do or worrying about something, that recognition from someone else who thinks you are noticeable in a good way is a refreshing change. If you are fortunate enough to have a loved one in remission for awhile, do something special with them. I took my sister on a cruise from Venice to Istanbul after she finished her first round of treatments and we never stopped talking about the memories created when it came back again. It doesn’t have to be that big – just something you know that they would enjoy. God knows they need whatever joy they have to reflect on when the going gets tough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your condolences. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister – I think that must be harder than losing a parent. It’s great that you were able to make such wonderful memories with her while you had the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. My condolences on the loss of your father-in-law. Even when it’s expected, it’s still a punch to the gut. *hug*

    I like your idea of a “say something nice” day. Have I ever told you how much reading pleasure you’ve provided me with, both here and with your books? Because you have, and I truly appreciate it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My sympathies for your loss, Diane. Even when expected, it still comes as a shock.
    Yes, I agree. A say something nice day would be a wonderful addition.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My heartfelt condolences Diane to you and whole family. God Speed

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Praying for you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My wife and I have been ‘orphans’ for many years now, so our grief is (mostly) past. But we both remember what it felt like when it was fresh and raw and life-dominating, when we were both lost in it to the point we couldn’t manage to function on any but the most basic levels, and just barely at that. You and your husband are not alone. It might still feel like it, but you are not.

    Like

  20. Diane, I too am sorry for your loss – wishing you and your family any gladness that can be found in mourning, and wishing your father in law peace in his rest.

    Also, and I’m sure I’m not alone, but I will tell you: I do love you. It is in the perhaps only abstract way in which you can love someone you haven’t met in person, but between your constance in blogging and commenting, and your amazing run of books, you have become one of my heroes. I know that you weren’t fishing, but you’re right that it’s not something that comes up too often, and it *should* be said. I don’t always comment on your posts, nor (I confess) even read them every time, but my digital world is a little bit brighter with you (digitally) in it, and I thank you.

    Digital Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you, BUMD! Your love and kind words really a mean a lot to me. And I like your concept of gladness in mourning – it’s true that despite the loss, there was a lot of joy and shared laughter in our family togetherness this weekend. Digital hugs right back atcha. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m sending you a virtual hug. I think hugs are the best thing we can do for each other especially in times of sorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. jono51

    Posts like this remind me of why I have gotten better at saying thank you and I love you and generally trying not to be a grumpy old bastard. Being older than you I have also said goodbye to family and friends more often than I would like, even fought off cancer myself. That makes no one else’s pain or suffering any easier of more difficult than my own, but it helps me understand and be able to say that I am truly sorry for your loss.
    Thank you for putting a smile on my face more than a few times and my sincerest condolences to you, your husband and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Very sorry to hear about your father-in-law. You’re right–we need to express what we love about the people in our lives while we still have them. An important reminder for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Julie Hyland

    UGH! I’m so sorry to read about your Father-in-law. It’s never easy to say goodbye, even when we have the blessing of doing so before it’s too late. In my Greek Orthodox Faith, we say, “May his memory be eternal.” It’s a double blessing, for his memory to us, and his memory to be written in the book God keeps. I will say a prayer for peace and comfort for all who mourn your father-in-law’s passing.
    It’s a great tribute to create a positive wave of influence in his honor. I will do so on my end for him, for you, for me, and for all those who I need to let know they are important to me and my life.
    THANK YOU!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Angela

    I think we might be clones of each other. Thank you for your words. They resonated with me as we too lost someone dear, from a fucking battle with cancer, and it sucks!

    Cheers to you wonderful woman (“lady” is not befitting of our kind lol) and virtual hugs and my sympathies.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Suzie Johnson

    Thinking of you and your husband during this time of loss. I will send you hugs and peaceful thoughts as you grieve. Your thoughts on sharing our feelings with others is on target. As a child , our older relatives would say “give people flowers while they yet live — don’t wait” . Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Well said. I am not a demonstrative person at all, but on my 65th birthday I decided I would hug and kiss everyone a lot more. I’m doing it. And I’m enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The words might be three years old, but there is no expiration date on truth. Well said.

    And since none of us know whether we have a tomorrow or not, I’ll take your advice. Today’s the day.

    Thank you, Diane, for all the laughter and light and inspiration that we gain from everything you do and say both here on the blog and in your books. Your blog is a bright spot in my week, and your books always make me anxious for the next one to be published. It is because of you that I am writing one of my own, after all.

    You make our lives better. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Karen

    Diane,

    As with everyone else my heartfelt sympathy to you and hubby.

    A thank you day is a fab idea, just to let everyone know how much they mean to us.

    On that note a big thank you to you, your blogs and books make me smile laugh and cry. (The crying is both with laughter and sadness at times) I’m still trying to find a job, last weeks I just missed out on apparently so who knows next time might be my time.

    I hope having been able to say your goodbyes will have helped, it was my biggest regret that I was never able to say goodbye to my grandparents but I was very young when they passed.
    Again my heartfelt sympathies to you and your hubby

    Karen xx

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Beautiful post, thank you. You brighten my day with your blog posts and my life with your books.
    You have my sympathy on the passing of your father-in-law, but I’m glad you got to say goodbye.
    Hugs,
    Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  31. My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father-in-law. A “thank-you day” for all the “Daves” out there sounds like a wonderful idea.

    And thank you, Diane, for being one of my writing inspirations.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Diane
    My thoughts are with you and your husband. While it may be expected, it’s never easy and is a loss to grieve. Prayers for you both, and thank you for the reminder that it’s always worth saying “I love you” to those that are important to us. I’m quite grateful for the gift of your online friendship and laughter as well!
    Beth

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Duane Beard

    When you’re right, you’re right!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Diane my heartfelt sympathy to you and your husband. No matter if one knows the end is near or not, the loss is tragic and heart wrenching. Your post is so very true. Such a good reminder to tell those we care about , like and love how we feel while we can. I shall do exactly that today. Sending big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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