I had another topic all picked out to rant on about and then “last week” occurred (just over ten days ago now). Those readers in Canada will realize that the week I speak of ended with a long weekend, Canadian Thanksgiving. The week in question started off a little oddly as three people I knew quite well all passed away. Not that strange as that has happened before. However, two of these three people knew of each other and in some stroke of weird alignment, ALL…three funerals happened on the same day! I kid (no goat pun intended) NOT! Two were scheduled within an hour of each so that in the end I could only attend two of the three services.
This meant I had the opportunity within a 3 hour window to compare two eulogies detailing the high points of lives (lived in excess of 70 plus years) served on this planet. It is a very sobering experience to keep company with one’s self knowing that one has personally already lived more than half of the years in the lifetimes being celebrated and my dismissal from this earth is approaching. All sorts of thoughts swirled around in my head. What have I contributed to the earth (ya okay, beyond the nine offspring)? What if someone I knew should suddenly not be there tomorrow? Do my children KNOW how much I love them? Are there people I want to make amends with before I go? Are there friends who mean a lot to me that perhaps are not aware of how highly they are regarded? Are there family members I want a closer bond with? Is there something extra I really want ( or need) to accomplish in this life? As I watched the immediate families and relatives at these services I gained a clearer perspective on what an impact the deceased has made (or not) on all the lives around them.
One of the funeral cards reads with a message from the deceased. “I ask forgiveness of everyone I may have offended by my words, actions, negligence and ignorance. May it not be said that anyone be punished because of offences towards me, as it is my desire to completely forgive them now and forever.” I have been to many wakes and seen numerous funeral cards but never had I seen this. I was taken by both the courage this took to write (and admit offences) but also by the regret that must have been present in life by the writer.
Sometimes things in life do not go the way we hope, wanted or thought they would turn out. People sometimes take offence easily and I can often be “one of those.” Life is too short for all of this. I wondered when I read the funeral card what might it have been like if some of these trespasses referred to had been forgiven in this person’s life and relationships restored while there was still time to enjoy the renewed relationship. Time stands still for no one.
On my way home from this funeral, I was in an accident (no…I am not making this up). I was turning left with the advance signal into blinding sunlight when my car and a cyclist collided. I cannot hope to ever explain how I felt. It was terrible. The cyclist was bruised and shaken but thankfully no lasting injury or broken bone. He was wearing a bike helmet (hope my kids do). He had seen my vehicle but thought he had time to continue and that when I saw him I would surely stop. He did not realize that I was totally blinded by the sun and could not have had a chance to see him. Later at the hospital I marveled at how he was basically fine after what could have been a total fatality. I told him he had an awesome guardian angel. He told me his grandmother had lived to over 100 years and the day of the accident was her birthday. I felt overwhelmed.
Fate had me at the hospital checking on this stranger’s condition at the same time understanding how really fortunate we both were. Neither of us sustained serious injuries. It was just not our time to be called from this earth. I let the police take me home as I was too upset to want to move my car immediately. I was not charged by the police as the situation was ruled truly an unavoidable accident.
The eulogy in the second funeral quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “there is a time for everything” and I have always struggled with this passage as I never liked to have any of the good things come to an end. For example I like “there is a time for love” but when it is followed by “there is a time for hate”…not so much. Throughout the second eulogy I realized that things we think are important rarely are and things we think are not important most certainly are. In the end we are all going to exit this world. At that point many things we worry about and struggle with every day will no longer matter. What will matter is what eternity looks like and how did I use the gifts I have been given while here on earth.
I took from that a call to courage. Engage the person that will not speak to you, try to establish communication even if there has been a freeze out forever. Basically really try to restore any fractured relationships while there is time to enjoy the mended connection. I know that it is hard but so well worth doing. Some people fade away and say they are “busy” others get left behind because I am sometimes “busy.” Others still feel offended or offend and then retreat. I found that funeral card very thought-provoking. I hope that I am able to restore any injured relationships and maintain same during my life as I move forward.
As of the writing of this we are already past Canadian Thanksgiving and almost a month before American Thanksgiving. I am reminded about how grateful I should be for the many blessings I have. I thought about how everyday life races past and each single day melts together forming weeks and then morphs again into years of memories. The time we are here is now. What counts is that the people in our lives know how much we do care while we are alive. I resolved to make time for those people who in the busyness of everyday life I have left behind as life races past.
When things look like they are taking a turn for the worse or I get bad news I try to remember what I am truly grateful for. Sometimes the things that are the smallest become the biggest. I have also realized the more often I stop to acknowledge gratitude in my life the more rewarding and meaningful my life becomes.
My list of what I am thankful for looks something like this:
- That there was a guardian angel looking after both the cyclist and myself that fateful day and no serious injuries were sustained.
- Nine beautiful and healthy kids (yes all little goats) regardless of the chores they have left unattended.
- My husband (although if you were to ask him…there might be times where I seem somewhat unappreciative of the male gender in general).
- My two-year-old telling me how much she missed me (and I only went to put the garbage out).
- The smile from my granddaughter just because I came into her view.
- Enough cream left in the fridge by the teenagers to actually have a cup of creamy caffeine without having to go out to buy more.
- One clean towel left as I enter the shower (there are days where this level of gratitude is not possible as the last towel was taken by something I gave birth to that NEEDED to use several towels)
- The neighborhood red-headed woodpecker allowing me to stalk him with my camera while he busily destroys the tree.
- The knowledge at the start of each day that I have yet another chance to make a difference on this planet.
- The awesome people I know as well as the ones I have known and have yet to meet.
- Knowledge that God has a great plan for me and that I need not worry.
- My sense of humour…without which I do not think I could ever manage!
When I finish looking at all that I do have… I feel very blessed and content. I am not saying that I do not have any worries (9 kids…that is a no-brainer) or things that I wish would change it just means that I try to focus on the positive more than the negative. I find that when I review what I am grateful for I end up much happier inside regardless of what else is going on around me or how people treat me.
Beside, things can change in an instant and sometimes not always for the better. So the in keeping with a time for everything it is always time to be grateful. Because by being grateful we change how we think and how well we spent what is left of our time on this planet. I sincerely believe there is no such thing as “a time to NOT “be “grateful.”
“Gratitude changes what we have into enough.” ~Melody Beattie~
A Grateful Goat