I have a gift I want you to give this holiday (whatever your holiday is) season. It isn’t a present to benefit me it is a present to benefit you and your family. The gift I want you to give is an investment of your time. The giving of that time will have a big pay off in the future. This gift of time will reward you with much more than you gave. This gift of your time will be just a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time the person you are giving it to has given you over your lifetime. I’m talking about you taking some time to visit elderly family members, loved ones and friends in hospitals, assisted living care and nursing homes. These are people who invested their valuable time to give you food, shelter, clothing, manners, values and to enhance your life in many ways. Visit these people not just because you owe them but because you love them for what they have done for you. I don’t want to hear that your time is very valuable because so was their time and they gave it willingly.
Visit elderly family members and take a recorder and ask them questions about your family history. This is valuable information to be able to tell your children and grandchildren. Get it from the horse’s mouth while you still can. Yes, yes some of us had parents who didn’t spare the rod and were overly strict with us. We may bear some anger about such things but if it didn’t send us into therapy it made us stronger. Our parents might have even taught us how not to raise our kids by some of their actions and that was also a valuable lesson. People make mistakes and parents aren’t perfect but they did the best they were capable of. I’m willing to bet that your parents were even better grandparents.
I want you to give of your time to visit the elderly as I just experienced my 92 year-old mother-in-law dying. My wife visited her almost daily in an assisted living facility for the past several months. Thankfully my mother-in-law was as sharp as a tack up until the end. Daily pains did cause her to be quite demanding off the staff at the facility. The staff was as pleasant as they could be to her knowing she was having a lot of anxiety. Many days my wife came home exhausted from having to deal with her mother at the assisted living care facility. My mother-in-law Margaret of course just wanted to be healthy enough to be living back in her own home. At the age of 92 the fact is that every day you are getting worse and there will be no better days. I went with my wife often to visit because my mother-in-law who was a strong-willed woman took it a little easier on my wife if I was around. My wife and I are glad that we visited my mother-in-law the day before she died. She actually seemed fairly well that day and we never suspected she would pass away the next morning.
We are also glad one of my wife’s three brothers had spent time with his mom recording family history. We played some of it at a wake we had in her honor. I won’t bore you with the history of my wife’s family but I urge you to learn the oral history of your family from its elder statesmen and women while they are still around. Invest your time in visiting the elderly in your family while you still can. I know people who are undergoing their own hardships and health problems and put those aside to reach out to our family. I want to thank so many people who came forward in our families time of sadness and showed us what real community is.
The following photo and comment by my daughter, Mackenzie more eloquently illustrate what my mother-in-law and her baba (grandmother) meant to us than anything I can say.:
“I don’t know many people who can say they had a 92-year-old best friend. No amount of words could express the bond Baba and I shared. I’m thankful to have been able to laugh together during the good days and be by her side holding her hand through the worst days.” ~ Mackenzie
Dani and Lizzy: “Dancing in the Sky”
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.” ~ Elbert Hubbard