“Yes, Dad. I know. I want to come see you, too, but I’ve got a lot to do right now. How’re you feeling? Oh, I’m sorry. What did the doctor say? Ok. Well, be sure to take those pills. I’ll try to get by on Sunday after church. It may be late afternoon, though, because we have to go to a committee meeting after service, and we always go to lunch with the group afterwards. Tomorrow? Well, I’d like to, but the grandkids have a soccer game and then we told them we’d take them all out for pizza. We don’t want to disappoint them.”
Glenn’s dad lived twenty minutes away from him. In fact, his dad’s house was actually on the way to and from Glenn’s job. His dad had dementia, and heart problems, and hadn’t been getting along too well recently. Glenn loved his dad, but it seemed he could never make the time to go see him like he said he wanted to. Other things always seemed to intrude, and then he’d forget he’d promised to do something for him.
In fact, his dad usually had to call him to see how HE was, rather than Glenn calling him. Plus, he really didn’t enjoy going to see his dad, because of the memory issues, and it seemed his dad always wanted him to stay with him longer than Glenn had the time to do.
Then one day a few weeks after that conversation, Glenn got a call from the hospital. His dad had been rushed there by ambulance with severe chest pains and difficulty breathing. He suddenly realized he’d promised to go see him, but never made it over there. Something came up…and he hadn’t even called to tell his dad he wasn’t coming.
Glenn headed to the hospital, swearing to himself if his dad made it, things would change. He’d go see him more, do things for him. Take him to dinner with the grandkids even.
But Glenn was too late. He’d put off doing what he should do one too many times. He didn’t even make it to the hospital in time to even say, “I love you, Dad.” He’d gotten this really important phone call as he was leaving, and in that fifteen minutes he was on the phone, his father went home to be with the Lord.
Glenn was filled with guilt. He started thinking back on how many times he’d visited his dad over the past six months. It didn’t even add up to once a month. If only he’d taken the time when he could…what difference would an hour or so have made in his important busy schedule, which didn’t seem so important right now. Last week it would’ve been a hassle. Now he’d give anything to have to rearrange that schedule to see his dad alive just one more time.
Too often we put other things in front of our loved ones. We think we have all the time in the world to see them, do something with them. We don’t want to interrupt our own lives, our own priorities, to make time for someone we really care about. After all, they’ll certainly understand. They know we care about them, but they certainly know how busy we are.
Hindsight is always 20/20, as I’ve written many times. If only we knew THEN what we know NOW, we certainly would have done things a lot different. But life doesn’t work like that. We all have choices to make in our lives; priorities to determine. Sometimes we make the right choices, and sometimes we don’t.
I will be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this at times. I think we all are. But to what degree do we allow ourselves to continually put ourselves and our own desires over those of our friends and family? Particularly our elderly family members? How often do we think, oh, everything is probably ok with them. I’ll check on them later; they know how much I care about them. I’m really busy with……right now.
Do they really know you care? Actions speak louder than words, as the saying goes. How would you feel if the situation were reversed? Would you feel deserted? Abandoned? Would you be upset that people you thought cared about you didn’t care enough to check on you when you were having problems?
It’s easy to let the busy-ness of our lives take over and rearrange our priorities, until our lives become so self-centered we don’t even realize what we’re doing. Then it’s often too late to make amends.
Are you too busy? If you think you are, stop and figure out what you can cut out of that busy-ness of your life so you can make time for some things that really count. Call a friend who’s going through a tough time and see how they’re doing. Go visit an elderly relative who’s alone. Call some friends you haven’t connected with in a while and get together and catch up.
Tomorrow is not promised. Today is only what we make it, and I am going to put aside some of my own busy-ness for someone else I care about.
How about you?