Procrastinate (verb) - to put off or defer until another time.
To some degree Iíve done it my whole lifeónot to the point of completely missing an opportunity but rather just delaying things until the time seemed right to start them. Homework, housework, business projects and various Jane Fonda workout videos have all fallen victim over the years to my assorted excuses for waiting.
Recently, however, Iíve been reminded of the fact that our time isnít infinite. When weíre young, we seem to have all the time in the world. But as we get older, it simply goes by faster than it should. Weekends fly by. Our kids grow up too fast. Sometimes lives are cut shortóboth literally and figuratively.
My parents divorced when I was four years old. Life and circumstances in general were such that I never really developed a robust relationship with my dad. It was ok, though. Kids are adaptive that way, and I was certainly no exception. But as a young adult, I had the opportunity to get to know him again. It could be awkward and at times felt a bit disjointed but it was certainly better than nothing. We actually had several things in common and I enjoyed our new relationship.
About a year ago, he mentioned in passing that he had a nagging sore throat that wouldnít go away. Down south, it could easily be chalked up to allergies. Since we only talked every now and then, it didnít really register to me as being an epic problem but rather a random topic of conversation only to be followed by how my family was getting along and how his business was doing.
It was an evening several months later though, this past November to be exact, that time momentarily stood still. A mutual acquaintance of my fatherís and mine, one I had not seen in ages and had no idea Iíd bump into, asked me in the most pensive way, with brows furrowed, ďHow is your dad?Ē I could tell by the look on her face that it wasnít one of those mindless ďmomma-and-themĒ type inquiries, and before she could even get the next words out of her mouth, I felt tears stinging the corners of my eyes. ďHow was chemo?Ē she asked. I mean, I was supposed to know, right? I am his daughter, after all. And in the blink of an eye, this woman revealed something to me I knew nothing about.
Had I managed to procrastinate away my entire future with this man? Had I waited too long? Was I so busy living my own life that I had missed a critical part of his?
Fast forward. Just a few weeks ago, on a beautiful spring morning, the father of one of my closest friends suffered a fatal heart attack while playing tennis. In an instant he was gone. And while she is understandably crushed over his loss, she didnít miss out on her life with him. She made the effort necessary to have him be a part of her world and that of her family and childrenís lives. It is a poignant lesson that is begging for my attention. Even more poignant was that I was asked to help write his obituary. God does these things on purpose, you know. He nudges us in ways to which we must be open.
So the night before I wrote this column, I received an email from my dad. It said, ďHi cutie! Your magazine looks really spiffy this month (referring to the May issue). I especially like the family photo on your GM letter page.Ē It occurs to me how long itís been since weíve seen him. I need to do something about that.
The bad news is that my father was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer. The good news is that after 12 chemotherapy sessions and 39 radiation treatments, he appears to be cancer-free. I donít know if he was saved for his own sake or for mine, but I figure if youíve been given a second chance at life, youíd best take it. Itís our second chance. Today Iím writing about life. What a blessing.
So in June we celebrate Fatherís Day. I suppose I celebrated back in November when I reached out to him immediately and reconnected. Itís hard to admit that it could have happened this way, but it did. We cleared the proverbial cobwebs and have been given an unprecedented opportunity to start over. What people forget is that just because circumstances consume our past doesnít mean we canít have a future. Itís reckless to put off until tomorrow what can be done today. What if thereís not a tomorrow? What if we continue to wait?
My heart breaks for my friend who lost her daddy. If for no other reason, I should honor the relationship that she had with him by taking advantage of the additional time Iíve been given with my own. Thereís the nudge. Iím thankful to have been given another chance.
Thank you for reading this monthís issue of VIP Jackson Magazine. Itís great having you as one of our readers. Enjoy!