Perspective

The Minutes That Last a Lifetime

Sometimes we gain perspective on life in unexpected ways. Awhile ago, I was taking care of some business in our small town when the woman behind the counter stared at me for a moment. I said, “Hi” to her, then she recognized me. “Oh, I remember you. You bought my grandparents house.” I nodded, “Yes, we did.” It had been several months since we last talked and every time we did she would share a memory of time spent in the house with her grandparents.

“I have so many good memories in that house,” she said to me. Then she told me how she used to go to her grandparents house after elementary school until her parents picked her up. She recalled how she would sit with her grandfather in a rocking chair and listen to music on a record player that sat on a shelf in the living room. I told her I knew exactly which shelf — “the one that’s deeper than the others and has an outlet in it.” She verified that was indeed the shelf. When I returned home I smiled when I saw the shelf now filled with our family photos.

A few weeks later our granddaughter stayed with us for a few days. She is a very active toddler, but in the morning she likes to sit with grandma or grandpa and snuggle for a bit. It was one of those mornings, as she sat with me on the rocking chair, that I noticed we were sitting by the deep shelf with the outlet. I immediately thought of the memory shared with me a few weeks before from the woman who did the same thing as a kid with her grandfather in that very spot.

There was something about that moment, the realization that history was repeating itself, that gave me the long view of life. With my granddaughter snuggled close looking up at me with a smile, I wondered what she would remember about her time with her grandparents in their home. It made me contemplate how the simplest moments in life can be the most cherished memories.

In the course of our busy lives it is easy to get distracted with the necessities of life. There are jobs to attend to, meals to plan, cleaning to be done, maintenance to complete and lots of other required tasks. Yet we can’t lose sight of the truly important moments that require our full attention. It may be a moment that only lasts a few minutes, but it could be a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Perspective

Mourning a Lost Future

When you’ve lived more than a half century, you find that you’ve attended many funerals along the way. Over that time I’ve listened to many eulogies and shed many tears over the death of friends and family. Out of all of those eulogies, one in particular has stuck with me.

Years ago I went to a memorial service a coworker held for his wife. After a long illness, his wife finally succumbed to her disease. I will never forget the eulogy he delivered for the woman he dearly loved and missed. He said that he grieved the loss of her, particularly their future as a couple. He explained how he would miss her companionship and all the future time together that will never be. He shared about the good times they had together and how there would be no more days spent with her. He brought the whole room to tears.

But then he pivoted his remarks to point us to the past and what it held for all of us. “It’s hard to look back and be grateful for what we did have; to be content with the years we had together,” he said. “I wanted more time together; so much more time. I will always want more, but I am so grateful for what we did have and forever grateful for that.”

These are the words that have stuck with me. It seems I always want more out of life, but can I be content with what I have instead of looking at what I don’t have and what the future might bring? Can I be content with this moment — content with making the most of this moment; content with this day and what it brings? It seems natural to want more out of life, but perhaps appreciating what we have already is enough. It is something I’m still working on years later.