The last time I saw my dad, he hugged me and said, “Don’t bother coming back out, I know it’s hard on you.” We’d just had an amazing week of visiting him, and I had an overwhelming feeling that I might not see him again. As we drove off, I had more regrets than I normally did. I began to wonder if I had made the right decision in leaving California.
As I contemplated the choices I had made, I came to the realization that I cherished my dad more by not being around him all the time. When we were together, usually once every year, I valued every second of it. I recorded the memories and the feelings so that I could replay them later, when he was no longer there. I didn’t have to deal with the day-in-day-out stresses of life. He usually had something spectacular planned. He would tell us, “It’s all about you,” and we knew for that one week it was.
My dad was never a serious person, so I am grateful that during our long phone conversations I learned things about him and his childhood that he probably would not have told me in person. I’m thankful that he had the ability to cherish those around him: his wife, who had dozens of notes of adoration; his children, whom he regularly told how much he valued them; and all his family and friends that he took the time to treasure.
I probably would have never moved if I knew my dad would die. I would have stayed close and enjoyed every moment I had with him. Unfortunately, we never know that about anyone. How many people would we treat differently if we knew they would be gone tomorrow? What would we say to them today? Time is the most valuable commodity we have. Your house, your car, your credit cards—they won’t miss you when you’re gone. But those whom you took the time to cherish will.
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