Rather, let’s call this a perspective column. Trying to get the important things — family, friends, faith — up where they belong in our value system and remembering not to sweat the small stuff, which is what most of us spend our precious days doing .
Or, said another way, we grind over the things that happened to us yesterday and fret over the things we fear may be coming tomorrow. Yet, there are two things we can’t control: Yesterday and tomorrow. In the meantime, we waste a day we can never get back.
I am still amazed and chagrined at the sleepless nights I spent worrying about some work-related issue that had occurred or that I assumed would occur — things I can’t even recall today. The time I devoted to the crises — real and imagined — at the office was time that I did not spend telling my family how important they were — and are — to me.
My excuse is that my career resulted in giving them a good measure of security. I suspect they will tell you today they would have swapped some of that security for a little more of my time and attention. The fact that my family loves me today is better than I deserve.
You may recall the story I told sometime back of young James Eunice, an 18-year-old senior at Valdosta High School who informed UGA football coach Mark Richt that he was going to walk on and make the Bulldog squad in the fall even though he was not being recruited. Whether he could have or would have made the team will never be known because James Eunice drowned a few months later while duck hunting.
At his funeral, two of the state’s most highly-recruited athletes at Valdosta — Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell — read a letter of condolence from Richt that ended with this: “Oh yeah, James made the team.” as the two young men pulled a Bulldog jersey out of a box with his name and number and presented it to his parents.
There is more to the story. Much more. Less than a year before James Eunice died, he lost a good friend in an automobile accident. This is what he wrote on his Facebook page following his friend’s death. He entitled it: “The Clock is Ticking” and it goes in part like this:
Take time to love someone. Today. Tomorrow. For the rest of your life. Because when that unexpected day comes that they pass on, you’ll be left wondering what you could’ve done better. How could you have made them feel more welcome and show that you do care for them? Don’t wait until it is too late like I did.” Excellent advice from a young man who left us much too early.
Whatever you may be doing this Thanksgiving Week, take time to get things in perspective. The clock is ticking. Let people know you love them and not have to wonder later what you could have done better. And, oh yeah, don’t sweat the small stuff.
As for me, I will be attending the Third Annual Cameron and Pa Birthday gala this Thanksgiving. It is a very exclusive, invitation-only affair that will culminate with the Lighting of the Great Cupcake Candles. Cameron (named for his great-grandmother’s Scottish clan) was born two days before my birthday.
His mother had promised to deliver him on Nov. 24 as a birthday present until one too many labor pains kicked in and she decided that as much as she loves me, there is a limit to her devotion. Labor pains can do that, I am told.
Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandson will hopefully become a family tradition. I look forward to singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles on the cupcakes and dazzling him with my magic tricks (like pulling a stick of gum from behind his ear which gets a lot of eye-roll from the next-of-kin since it is the only magic trick I know.)
Most of all, the day will serve to remind me of all I have for which to be thankful and to keep it all in perspective.
I just wish I had learned this a few years earlier.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.