She walked ever so slowly up the slate steps to the back yard. Each step a reminder of her age. The tiger lilies were in full bloom and there were daisies in mason jars on the tables. The sun was shining brightly and there was a light breeze. It was a gorgeous day but she didn't notice any of these things. She quietly concentrated on not tripping, carefully putting one foot in front of the other with a grand daughter on each side to steady her. She stopped to look up for a moment and that's when she saw them. They were all standing, waving, and yelling SURPRISE!!! Her family had gathered to celebrate her 80th birthday. Four children, ten grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren had come to spend time with her! This was the gift that she spent the rest of the day opening and enjoying. This is what she would remember. Grandma has always understood what most people take for granted. It's not a big event that makes a moment. It is the time spent with the people you love.
Grandma lost both of her parents by the time she was thirteen years old. Once they died she was passed from home to home until she reached her last home with a foster family. She married my Grandfather at a young age and they had four children. My Grandfather died at the age of forty eight. He was the love of her life. I believe that because of these great and sudden losses in her life, Grandma doesn't take time spent with people for granted. She is a good listener. She's not one for small talk. She gets right to the point. At the end of a visit she wants to know right away when you will be visiting again. She doesn't part ways without saying "I love you". It has always been time spent with the people she loves that matters to her.
Since Grandma's party I have been thinking about how often we look
at life as a series of big events only to miss the moments in between.
Our society tells us that we need to make the most out of big occasions
such as weddings, the birth of our children, and graduations. We plan menus, buy decorations, and take pictures on these occasions
because we want to make a memory to hold on to. We know that we won't
see that moment again so we do what we can to memorialize it in our
hearts. We soak it in not wanting to forget even the tiniest detail.
What if we treated all of life this way? What if we were that attentive
in every conversation? What if we loved, appreciated, and wanted to
remember every little detail about the people we converse with on a
daily basis? What if we remembered that not one of us is promised a
tomorrow and that the times we share together may very well be the
last? Would it change the way we listen to each other, the things we
talk about, and the way we love? I am certain it would.
Let's stop for a minute and think about the people we take for granted. Let's think about the time we don't spend with them because we think we have tomorrow. What about the interruptions from our kids? The chores and the computer will always be there but the kids will not. I don't know about you, but I don't want to take the people in my life for granted and assume that there will always be a tomorrow. Will you join me in enjoying every moment with the people we have in our lives right now? Join me in being attentive in conversation, soaking in the time we have with them, and loving them well. Let's be ever mindful that this moment with them could be the last. They are God's gifts, they are the big events that we don't want to miss!