A close friend of mine and I have been having a discussion on “Time”.
Having the patience to give something or someone Time.
The gift of Time.
The finite resource of Time.
I capitalize it because Time is important. And, how you spend your Time is important.
My Time these past few months have been difficult. My father, who turned 90 in June, had a rapid decline in his health starting last November. Last year I was fortunate through my travels to be able to see my parents on three separate occasions including my father’s 89th birthday. I was also able to attend his 90th birthday a few months ago. When I visited this past June I saw first hand how much his health had deteriorated and I had the feeling that his Time on this planet was drawing to a close. That realization was difficult, especially since I knew that I was supposed to spend two months in Europe and something might happen while I was there.
Two weeks ago while in Belgium I received a text from my sister that dad was in ICU. My responsibilities with the LUX Junior Team were winding down and I was going to have a week before the one month coaching course at the UCI that I was enrolled in (and had paid for) was going to begin. My sisters kept me informed on his condition and I was able to speak with his ICU nurse. More importantly I was able to speak briefly with him. At first I was thinking that I would change my flight home after the course to stop in Ohio so that I could spend Time with him and my mom. I told him that I was going to change my flight and that I would see him in a few weeks.
“That’s good. I want to see you” was his response.
My father is a man of very few words. Those words stuck in my head.
I woke up the next day and I knew that Time was short and that I needed to get back so I booked a ticket to Ohio with the idea that I would come home for a few days, fly back to EU and then do the coaching course. I arrived in Ohio late the next day and went into the hospital to see him on Saturday morning. The look of surprise and joy on his face when he realized that I was in the room is something that I will treasure forever, For 4 1/2 hours I sat in my dad’s hospital room, just he and I, and we spoke.
He was weak but his mind was still very sharp.
He told me some things that I never knew. We spoke about my adoption, something that my mother used to speak about quite a bit but that I never heard from his perspective.
He wasn’t eating much. Hospital food and all. I asked him if he could have anything in the world what would it be.
“If I ever get out of here I keep thinking that I would like a nice big Porterhouse steak.”
So that night I went to a steakhouse and bought my dad a giant Porterhouse steak and baked potato and took it into his room. He only ate a few bites but my dad and I had some steak together.
One thing he kept talking about was how he was glad to see me but he kept stressing how he knew that for me to come back on a special trip was costly. My parents grew up in the Great Depression. Both of my father’s parents died when he was a kid and he was raised by his aunt. He was a carpenter and work in the winter was often scarce and he and my mother would save through the summer to make it through the winter.
“I just don’t want you spending all of your money. You will need it some day.”
For me, it was just money. I have enough and I can always make more. Time though is finite.
I woke up on Sunday morning and went into see him for a few hours before heading to the airport and back to Europe. He was very weak and having some difficulty speaking. He did thank me again for the steak. I told him he should rest and that he should not worry and that I would see him soon. I left his room and headed to the airport and I knew that I needed to be in Ohio with my family and that the coaching course could wait. I had already inquired about deferring the course so that wasn’t an issue. I did have to fly back to Belgium to grab my bike and bags since I had just flown back with a few things. I got on the phone and made the arrangements.
I arrived in Belgium yesterday morning. I put my bike together and went for a ride to clear my head. Then took it apart again and packed everything up. I woke up this morning to catch my flight back to Ohio and saw the text from my sister that dad had passed away sometime in the last few hours.
I am at ease with that because I was able to spend some quality Time with my father and I also knew that it was his Time to go and that he was ready.
From a close friend of mine:
“Gifts. The world gives them to us. Sometimes we are able to give them to others. Those hours you could spend with your dad mean the world. I am sure that it doesn’t feel like enough to you, that there could have been more. But that is always the case. Time, a glorious gift to receive, and to give.”
Don’t waste it.
And make Time for those things and those people that are important to you.
Because Time is finite.
And soon, you will run out of it.