I wrote this for my maternal Grandfather’s memorial service. He died while I was living in Mexico, and I found it again today when I was looking for a photo of him in his military uniform for a Facebook post about Remembrance Day / Veteran’s Day. I thought I would share it to remind everyone to take the time to listen to your parents’ stories and your grandparents’ stories if you’re lucky enough to still have them around.
The Latin “tempus fugit” has long been translated as ‘time flies’ but I think a closer translation would be ‘time flees’. Time is the fugitive we’re all pursuing as it runs into the future, always leaving us behind wanting more. Leaving us with regrets about time wasted. Leaving us wondering what happened to that hour, that day, that year, that decade. How did it get away from us so fast? How is it that so few of the really important items on our lists got checked off?
As I look forward into the future with all it’s possibilities, I also look back at the opportunities I’ve missed. An occasion to spend time with family members now passed away. A reunion I could have attended if I’d only made the time. No, I’m not a victim, I’ve made my choices but I never really believed that I’d wouldn’t get another chance to do the things I had “put off until tomorrow”.
Like a true procrastinator I juggled and shuffled my lists, constantly reorganizing and reassigning priority while completing few tasks. Now looking at my photograph albums and journals filled with excitement and adventure, there don’t seem to be enough photos of me with my Grandparents, enough entries about times we spent together.
Yes, we loved each other and enjoyed each others company every once in a while, but I put off really getting to know them, sitting and listening to stories about their youth, about Grandpa David’s time with British Intelligence, or about Grandpa Jim liberating Holland in the War. When Grandma Jo died and my parents took her ashes back to Parry Sound, the outpouring of love from the community – the people who knew her best – blew my parents’ minds. I’m sad to say that I know even less about my paternal Grandmother, Denise.
My own accomplishments seem diminished because I don’t know all the details of theirs. I was angry at myself at each of their deaths because deep down I knew that when they reached out to pass something of themselves to me, I didn’t grab it, and now it’s gone.
I’m not making that mistake with my own parents. I want to know who they were before they were parents, who they were while I was busy being a self-absorbed teen, and who they were when I was away at sea for most of my adult life. Most importantly, I want my daughter to know who these people are who love her fiercely and unconditionally.
Time by definition is: a non spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.
It’s that irreversible part that we need to learn by heart.