It’s not about your last words

Commitment is an act, not a word ~ Jean Paul-Sartre

It’s been a tough few weeks in America, there have been the unfortunate series of mass shootings, but two have been particularly horrific, one in Buffalo and a school shooting in Texas. As often happens when tragedies like this occur, you see a lot of regret about last words. You see distraught survivors, parents, friends and family members who regret their last meeting with the deceased. You hear weeping relatives and friends lamenting that they didn’t say I love you that morning, or shared a harsh word with their loved ones and they feel terrible about it. You see lots of people posting on social media with memes and advice, always tell people you love them everyday, never part with a harsh word you never know when it will be the last time you see someone. These are all well-meaning ideas, but they’re not realistic. It sets and unrealistic expectation for us mere mortals. As humans, we are not always at our best, sometimes life is incredibly hard and so we don’t communicate the way we would like. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about that, we are only human after all.

I learned this lesson personally in the year 2000. My grandfather was a feisty old bastard who was born in 1910. He had decided that in the year 2000, he automatically turned 100. Crazy, and when he told me we argued math for a few minutes and then I asserted I guess I did too then, he dismissed me, “you’re not old enough.” Well, as New Years Eve 2000 approached my grandfather fell into a coma. I was in Florida celebrating the new millennium, I’d rented a house on the Gulf of Mexico for the occasion. I got a call about my grandfather’s situation a couple of days before New Years Eve and they suggested I come home because he was about to die. I explained that I wouldn’t be coming for two reasons. The first was that there was no way he was going to die before, in his mind, he turned 100. Secondly, I didn’t need to say goodbye, it didn’t matter that we had some last positive interaction. You see I had always made an effort to spend time with my grandfather.

To me, that’s always been the important thing. It’s not about the last communication you have with someone, it’s about the time you spent with them when they were still with us, and that’s really good news. Because my friends, that means that you can start right now putting in that time with those you care the most about. It’s far better to look back on good times you had with them, then one last good word. And one last bad word could never negate the love grown over that time.

The recent events in Texas and New York and Memorial Day holiday triggered these thoughts tonight, both of my grandfathers were WWII veterans and they are always on my mind during this time of year. Below is my grandfather who died in 2000 and got in his last street fight in 1998 at 88 years-old. I miss you old man. ~ Rev Kane

grandpa, memorial day

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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