Once in a lifetime


Yesterday’s eclipse experience was a once in a generation event. I’m glad I got to share it with my family, particularly my daughters. Afterwards we called my grandmother who has been on my heart a lot lately.  She’s nearing her eighties and has been in declining health, though she only recently retired this past year from over four decades in education.  I credit her for being the inspiration for why I’m an educator today.  Unfortunately, she and I have had a strained relationship over the past few years, so we don’t talk as much or as in depth as I would like to.  Still, I try to call her once a week on Sunday afternoons and let the girls talk to her as well.  It’s important to me that they grow up knowing their great-grandmother, as I was fortunate enough to do (now that’s a once in a lifetime blessing).

At any rate, calling her and actually getting to talk and catch up with her for a while just left me thankful for that precious time. She talked a lot about death, but for the first time that I can recall, she talked openly about being ready for death. The running joke in our family is that grandma will likely never die. As a matter of fact, she has “threatened” to outlive each of us a few times over the years. But yesterday was different. It was like she could see the end. She has another aneurism and I get the sense that after a dramatic open heart surgery with 5-6 bypasses a few years back, she’s not interested in going under the knife again. Add to that the constant blood transfusions she keeps getting and it seems as if the woman who has fought harder than anyone I know, is actually ready to give up the fight.

I don’t know, I could be reading all of this wrong, but if I’m not, it just makes me want to go spend as much time with her as I can. Sure I call to check up on her weekly, but as my uncle would say, that’s not enough. It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve actually laid eyes on her. The last time I was home in Anderson was actually a pretty pleasant experience. Perhaps I need to start making a monthly pilgrimage (or maybe even more frequently?).

I don’t know when I would do it given my schedule, but that is sort of the problem. It seems like in my pursuit of starting my own life, growing a family, building a career I’ve distanced myself too much from home. I kind of had to in order to really grow right?  I had to leave the nest in order to fly?  Man, this makes me wonder, how will I set the girls up to do the same thing?  I want them to live full lives in pursuit of their purpose, but I also want to maintain close, steady relationships with them as they blossom into their adult lives.  What’s a parent to do?  Give them the tools they need in order to fly, and hope for the best knowing that you’ve done your part.  Of this, my grandmother and my parents can be certain- everyday I’m seeing the fruits of their investment in my life, and in fact it is echoing into the next generation into my daughter’s lives.  That’s legacy right there.

My most valuable investment, my most precious commodity, is my time. I don’t want any regrets about how I spent it. It’s the reason why yesterday I took the afternoon off to be with the girls. It’s why Samantha and I hire a babysitter for date nights. But yesterday reminded me of something important, we also care for our own.  It’s the reason why a few years ago my mom moved back home to care for my grandmother.  That is a testament to the kind of person that she is (my mother), and her sacrifice will certainly provide a model for her three children, including myself.

It’s also the reason why I’m open to re-aligning my priorities around how I spend my time. Years ago my uncle asked me where my mother fell on my priority list and I told him: it goes God, Samantha, my kids, then my mother and everyone else. He was shocked that she wasn’t higher, and shocked that my kids weren’t higher than my wife. But the thing is, while I regret small decisions about how I’ve executed these relationships over the years, I firmly believe this is the right order.

Yesterday’s time both with my wife and daughters viewing the once in a lifetime eclipse, and the time afterwards talking with my grandmother reminded me that as seasons of life change, it’s ok to call an audible to make sure your priorities change with them.  God I just pray for the wisdom to make the right call, and the courage to follow through.



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