I think one of the benefits of growing older is gaining perspective. The concept of time, for example, can’t really be explained to a younger person that makes them really understand how fleeting our time is here on Earth. But to today’s high school graduates, for example, November 22, 1963 might be a date that their grandparents remember what they were doing – and September 11, 2001 is a date etched into the minds of their parents, but both dates only represent something these students learned about in school.
This isn’t a knock in any way on today’s young people, but rather a way of pointing out that all of us are shaped by our life experience. Students entering college this fall are as unfamiliar with the weird noises your computer would make when you were connecting to a dial-up AOL connection as we were with the concept of telephone party lines, or “fins” on cars that got eight miles per gallon.
But as we get older, we gain perspective and realize that, although I have no personal memory of such cars, I know they existed and not long before I was around. When you’re an 18-year-old, 10 years represents more than half your life; at my current age it seems like the blink of an eye. If you don’t think so, consider that it was 10 years ago that Barack Obama was inaugurated as president and when Michael Jackson died.
My point is this: Life is short, and the longer you’ve been around, the more you realize that is true.
Which is why it’s so important to take occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc. and use them as opportunities to let the people we care most about know exactly how we feel. I was only 24 when my Dad passed away from terminal cancer. He was a wonderful man who taught me about the benefits of hard work, but also that being kind, courageous and faithful were important qualities that made a person whole. Best of all, he taught me all these things through example, not by preaching them at me.
I believe my Dad left us knowing how much of an impact he had on our lives, as well as how much he was loved and respected. I will take a moment today to reflect and think back about him and some of my favorite memories. I’m sure many of you who have also lost your father will do the same.
If your Dad is still alive, I hope you’ll do what the rest of us can’t – visit, call, whatever – but just reach out and take advantage of this opportunity to let him know what he means to you. Don’t tell yourself “he wouldn’t want us to fuss” or something similar. We all want to know that we matter to the people who matter most to us. And if you don’t know what to say, just start with “Happy Father’s Day” and let it evolve from there.