Appreciating those in our lives…

It’s easy to overlook important relationships in our lives. It seems that we more easily maintain work relationships, or those with close friends whom we relate to best and see often because there is something in it for us; gratification, a sense of belonging, validation, you pick the reason.  There are however, relationships that should be closer to us but take a great deal more effort to maintain for whatever reason; distance, dissimilar interests, age… again, you pick the reason. I lump myself into the latter category too. I’m a very busy, self-employed man who has little trouble filling in the hours and minutes of the day and I often have to work to stay connected to those that matter most to me…. I’m not always successful and in fact, I believe I often fall short. It’s when I read a story like the one at the bottom of this post that I’m reminded of the importance of nurturing important relationships… whether they are with our Mother, Father, Sister, Brother… or most especially, with Jesus. That’s right… I have to remind myself that he’s an active part of my life and I have to remember to invite him into it. It’s easy to pray, offer thanks… the easy, warm and fuzzy stuff, but I need to remember to allow him into my life as my Lord, brother, confidant, accountability partner and friend.

Making time for someone special in your life doesn’t need to be a big production. It can be a coffee, a phone call, a trip to the mall or the dump, fishing, you name what works for you… in the end, a two minute phone call to let someone know that they’re a part of your thoughts that day. Letting them know that they matter to you can become a memory that lasts a lifetime.

My Mother died six years ago… I often think of her and I truly miss her. I remember how we shared time together but also how we did not! I know she would have liked to have been a greater part of my life and it was significantly in my hands to allow that to happen. I often reminisce on how I’d planned to take her on a road trip to Whistler, BC for the day… just her, me and the wind in our hair. Many years and plenty of excuses later, she’s gone and sadly, that trip didn’t happen. I have forgiven in myself this situation and prayed for forgiveness to God also. The point here is, it doesn’t have to be a trip to Whistler; it could be a drive to the coffee shop, the park or just a drive through the country to share time together. Making time form those who are important to you is what makes the difference between a casual, convenient relationship and one that is worthy of the person who loves you and affords you the same.

My Dad is always willing to say “Yes… of course” when I ask him. Last week, I asked if he’d like to come for a ride with me… just to purchase some food for my Dog. Yes was the answer and even though it was only a half our trip, we enjoyed ourselves and shared time. I’m grateful for that simple memory and the countless others I have of my Dad as I remember him on his 79th birthday and this Father’s Day!
I pray we can all make an effort to care for those important relationships that take more work to maintain but have such great value. This writing was not out of guilt or hard memory, on the contrary, it was spawned out of the lovely memories I have of my Mom and Dad and the other friends and family who have shown me such great love and care over the years… it’s a reminder for me to continue to make the extra effort to connect and remain connected.
So… all of that said, Happy Father’s Day.

Do have a great week, make time to connect with those significant relationships in your life and enjoy the read below!

Tim

PS… I’m not responsible for the story below, I just found it very touching. It’s what inspired me to write the preface above.

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After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”