As I breeze through life at what seems to be an alarmingly increasing velocity, it is as though I am watching scenes from the window of a fast-moving train as it rolls through my life. By that I mean, as I look back, I see all too well the changes of the roles we play in the lives of family members.
This surfaced for me over the weekend when one of our grandchildren (5 years of age) told us, “ I want to stay with you forever and ever,” when her father arrived at our house to pick her up after she attended church and spent the afternoon with her grandmother and me.
My mind raced back to when we were the center of the universe for our children. It seems like yesterday when our kids spent a good portion of the day competing for our time and attention, wanting us to play a game or listen to them tell us about a new discovery they made.
As I watch life’s changes from the window of the train that runs through the annals of time I am reminded of Harry Chapin’s song “Cats in the Cradle” in which the father, whose time is coveted by his young son exchanges roles with his son as the years go by.
I recall raking leaves in the fall while my children and our dog formed a line waiting for me to toss them into the giant pile, and each would return to their place in line for me to do it all again. It appears that I am doing the same things, but this time with different children, and to my amazement with more time than years before with my children.
Now my grandchildren try to entice Papa to chase them through the yard (which hurts a lot worse than it used to), or they have Mamaw lying in the floor playing a board game with them.
I am not so sure that we have more time to spend with our grandchildren than we did with our children, especially when you consider we have 11 grandchildren. To my wife’s credit, she is slowly but surely teaching me that I need to make more time for the important things, the grandkids, the family, one another, and she is right. Holding onto time is like trying to grab a handful of smoke — you think you have it until you open your hand to see it.
Looking back, there are moments that will forever stand out in my memory from my childhood with my parents and grandparents. I recall my father, who was probably the least likely to ever play a part in a children’s Christmas program at church, wore his blue checkered house coat and a towel for head covering and played the part of one of the “wise men” one Christmas. I remember my mother teaching us how to make home made paste and helping us to make paper chains to decorate the Christmas tree.
Our grandparents didn’t live nearby, but I remember their visits with us and our visits with them, and how they made those times special for us in their own way. Memories that I will take with me as far as I can.
This fact of life isn’t exclusive to our children and grandchildren though. It applies to every relationship we have. Friends, neighbors extended family members.
Time lulls us into thinking there is ample time to say the things we always intended to say to one another or do the things we always intended to do with one another, but time can be deceiving. I am reminded of this each time I see a new photo of myself, pass by a mirror or see how quickly one of the little ones have grown after only a few weeks of not seeing them.
I haven’t arrived at my destination yet, but thanks to the example set forth by my wife, I am learning that it is more important to preserve my grandchildren’s desire to “live with Mamaw and Papa forever and ever” than to chase after whatever it is we chase after.
Think about it.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.