When someone passes away, people line up to speak about their accomplishments and good deeds. While it may be a nice tribute and may help the bereaved know others share their grief, the recently departed miss the accolades. Are they really “Better late than never?” When someone is taken quickly in the prime of their life we can, perhaps, be forgiven for having left many things unsaid. I was thinking today about people who are in the autumn years of life and adding to their invisible list of accomplishments. Yes, they should be thanked for their sacrifices and contributions; should know that their lives and efforts mattered…at least to someone. Surely the time will come when each of us will be lauded for our strengths and achievements and those whose lives we touched will be moved to voice their gratitude. To who? To those left behind?
We need to express our thanks and, yes, our love now. If not now…WHEN? Every day we lose hundreds of veterans who served the cause of freedom. Don’t you think that sitting with a vet now, and listening to stories of battles long passed, and offering a heartfelt thanks is only right? Tell him…not his widow or children. An hour of your time now surely costs less than the floral tribute you’d send later, with words of condolence.
What about the teacher who inspired you, who saw a spark that no-one did? You could name the school after them when they’re gone but it wouldn’t mean nearly as much as a letter during the long years of retirement. You always meant to say “thank you” for being so important in your life but you haven’t yet. If not now…WHEN?
The struggling widow, who embraces everyone’s children as her own, who serves up the hugs and smiles that are so sorely needed these days, gives whatever she can. You think she knows how everyone loves and respects her, and how much she has contributed in her own little corner of the world. Does she? If you don’t tell her…who will? What can we do to show her how special she is NOW, while she can hear and appreciate those words?
It is often our family members who don’t hear the “thank you” and praise we give to others. Did you say thanks for an especially good dinner, or for having the buttons sewn back on your favorite shirt? If your third-grader fills you with pride when she brings home a special project, do you tell her that? If there are words of love and praise that you wish you would hear more often, chances are they would like to hear them too. We all need to feel needed and appreciated, sometimes just for who we are.
Life is full of could-haves, would-haves and should-haves. We have no control over tomorrows that may never come but we do have today. Make this the day you hug your children extra tight. Make this the day you thank a neighbor for shoveling your walk or the waitress who always remembers how you like your coffee before you ask. Make this the day you say thank you to those who are a small, but important, part of your life. Our lives are a tapestry woven of all those small kindnesses and interactions; we are all a part of each others’ lives. Doesn’t it fill you with pride when you know someone is pleased with what you’ve done or given? Don’t you like to think that what you do, and who are are, matters? Why not pour out some of that love and gratitude you have inside? If not now…WHEN?