Friday, July 15, 2005

What is Truly Important ?

At lunch this past week, I found myself consoling a friend of mine who had recently experienced the passing of his grandmother. A feisty, tenacious woman with a large extended family, she had always held a special place in her heart for my friend, her grandson. Although they were oceans apart, and had not seen each other in years, they had always remained close. Three weeks ago, she was admitted to the hospital for various medical conditions. It was there that she remained until her last day on this earth.

It was his grandmother's wish that she speak to my friend one more time. His aunt had given him the number at the hospital where he could call her. Every day, he thought about calling her. Every day, he became buried in the endless avalanche of work, emails and other pressing tasks. Every day, he promised himself that tomorrow, he would speak to her.

Tomorrow never came.

Returning home after a busy Tuesday afternoon, my friend received a gift from his grandmother in the mail. It was a beautifully stitched tablecloth, made with her own aging hands, out of love for her grandson in the twilight of her life. He gently unwrapped this treasure, and prominently displayed it on the dining room table of his new house for all his guests to admire.

That very evening, his grandmother passed away.

He never had a chance to thank her. He never had a chance to say goodbye.

For those three weeks, the phone number sat on his desk, buried by the papers, tasks and obligations of the day. He thought he would always have time to call her. He thought she would always be around for when he had time to pick up that phone. But sadly, her stay on this earth came to an end, the very same day her final gift reached the hands of her cherished grandson.

How often do we all become engulfed in the minutiae of daily life ? It is so easy to allow ourselves to become slaves to the various crises of our waking hours, thinking that these things are essential, urgent, and significant. But as this sad story points out, we often do not make time for the relationships and the people that enrich our lives and make the daily grind worthwhile.

What is truly important ? Is it how clean our houses are, how many emails we respond to, how many problems we solve, how many items we've stroked off our ever-present to-do lists ? Or is it how many lives we have touched, how many smiles we have inspired, how much love we have shown for those who are close to us ?

The next time you say to yourself, "I'll call that person tomorrow" may be your last opportunity to do so.

Don't wait until the tablecloth is in your hands before picking up that telephone.


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