One of the aspects of life which seems to work as much against us as it does for us is time. We often complain about it as much as we tend to compliment the wonderful things it provides to us. Time is that commodity that is so valuable, yet we waste it all too often, especially as it relates to relationships with each other.
As I grow older, I find that you cannot put a true value to it. How many times have you wished that you could have turned back the clock to spend it with so many special people who have been part of your life?
In these last two years, we’ve found ourselves “locked down” due to the pandemic and the constraints applied to our travel and our ability to visit with those who are so important to us. Like many of you, I lost family members who were important to me during this time, as well as great friends who have played a significant part in my life moving forward.
My wonderful brother Bill struggled through his battle with pancreatic cancer in New Hampshire. My sister was unable to visit with him, and was only able to travel to be by his side at the end of this life. He was fortunate to have his wife and local friends help him through that struggle. We would be there at the end, but I only wish I had spent more time with him.
To this day, I ask myself why I hadn’t spent more time with him when he was well, so we could have enjoyed laughing about our childhood and family times together. This would have allowed him to share some of the old photographs he had resurrected over the many years since I left 32 years ago. You often wonder about the “should haves” in our individual lives and the missed opportunities. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, because many of you have shared some of the same regrets with me as we’ve met over the time that I’ve known you.
Just the other evening, while having dinner at Kretch’s a gentleman came up to my table and placed his hand on my shoulder and asked me how to get to Ocala, Florida. I looked up to discover a great friend of mine from Clay, New York. He and his wife were having dinner with their grandson. Manny Jerome was a dealer who handled upstate New York whom I worked with. He was a dealer of mine, selling fire apparatus for the company I worked for when I ran the Northeast 38 years ago. I have promised him we’ll get together before he leaves the island and it’s a promise I intend to keep and not break.
Time can be our friend though, if we use it wisely and take advantage of the improvements in technology over the last several decades. It has afforded us great opportunities, as it has freed us up from mundane tasks and made us more productive in our everyday work.
I remember when I began traveling for business in 1976 and the rolls of dimes we would carry to use the payphones in the rest areas. Today, you really need to look hard to find one of those, as we now live in the age of the “cellphone.” I also remember using a phone card from my room in the hotel to call into my home phone to retrieve messages from the machine that was connected to that phone. I found if you got back to those who were calling you within 24 to 36 hours, they were ecstatic at the prompt response. Today, if you don’t return the call within 30 minutes that may be too late.
We have become an instantaneous society, expecting next day deliveries and immediate responses to our needs, with little or no exceptions.
Yes, things have certainly changed, and I cringe when I hear someone say that they “long for the good old days.” I certainly do understand if what they are talking about is a time when ethics, honesty, integrity and family values were something we would celebrate, rather than hold in disdain.
A time when the person wearing a helmet in service to their nation and wearing the flag on their shoulder were seen as our heroes of the day, not someone who makes millions throwing a football, swinging a bat, or taking a knee when the flag passes by or during the National Anthem.
A time when we held our firefighters, law enforcement, teachers, nurses and our volunteers that do so much in our nation as role models for our kids as examples for the next generation to aspire to. Not someone bouncing around on a halftime stage degrading those who have provided them with freedoms and quality of life that many around the world live in envy of.
Time is that one prize we need to spend carefully, for before we realize it, that special treasure will slip through our fingers forever.