Love Shared Will Always Be Life’s Greatest Blessing

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s been a little over a week since my last post. Hopefully none of you noted my absence with a resounding, “Thank God!” Yes, I get a bit wordy sometimes, in much the same way that a Chihuahua gets a little testy at times. It’s a way of life. And here you are, still listening to me. I guess something must be working right.

Mom used to tell me that, when I was young, I barely spoke at all. I guess I was saving it up for later. Dad had to go on a job-related trip when I was about five or six and, while he was gone, I discovered my voice. When Dad called home, Mom said, “He’s started talking and he won’t stop!” Dad thought maybe she’d been into Granny’s secret elixir. I think Mom tried some of it on me as well.

But you know, talking has mostly served me well over the years. As a writer, I never had to worry about getting paid by the word. No employer was ever that gullible. As a comedian, there was always somebody in the back of the room with a flashlight telling me when it was time to shut up. I think some people in the audience tried that a few times.

And my wife has told me several times that, when we went on our first date, she was mostly attracted to my willingness to talk. That’s a nice way of saying it wasn’t my rippling biceps. But she’d been with her share of guys who talked with their hands, and I guess in that sense, it had to be a refreshing change of pace.

As I got out of bed this morning, she told me happy anniversary. It was 41 years ago today that we stood together and said, “I do.” It’s been a ride like we could never have imagined, but there’s no other person on this planet I’d rather have taken that ride with. We complete each other, rough edges and all. Sometimes like sandpaper, but the right progression of sandpaper can really make things shine.

To say we’ve been through a lot together is an understatement. With two daughters, four grandchildren, career successes and failures, and our share of profound loss, I’ve always known she was there at my side. And I never felt that more than I did two nights ago, as I said goodbye to my dad. It was one of the worst nights of my life, and somehow, I still feel blessed.

If you remember my last post, I had just taken Dad to the hospital. Things were looking up a bit, though I knew deep down that was a temporary reprieve. Recovery wasn’t in God’s master plan, and he slipped peacefully beyond this life just before midnight Sunday. I was at his side, along with my daughter and grandson, and his whole family had been with him in his final days and hours.

I had lots of good conversations with Dad in those final days. Last Friday, he told me about some of his days in the Navy, and for whatever reason, he recalled a co-worker who had just gotten married and brought his new wife to our house, probably 50 years ago. I had no idea that would be my last conversation with Dad. A few minutes later, he went to sleep and never really woke up again.

But I also know he was aware of what was happening, and of everyone who was gathered around him. Even in his last hours, when I’d put the phone to his ear, he was visibly attentive. The sense of hearing is the last to go, so much that it’s been suggested a person can still hear the voices around them for a couple of minutes after they pass. I believe that.

One of life’s greatest blessings is the opportunity to send a loved one to their final reward with expressions of gratitude and love. As I said in a post last night, most people don’t get that chance. And as hard as it is to let go, those final moments will remain in my memory as some of the most precious of my life.

I think it’s fitting that, on the same floor as the Hospice unit was the hospital’s birthing center. As one person leaves, another life begins. I thought of that every time I walked past. I’ve prayed a lot for all those little ones and their parents, wishing them all a relationship like I had with my mom and dad. There is no greater gift than love, a lesson Mom and Dad taught by example.

And when it was all over, I came home to the one person I knew would be there to comfort me like nobody else can. After all these years, a hug and kiss from my wife can somehow make all the bad things disappear, even if only for a moment. I just hope I’ve been able to do the same for her.

As I said in my last post, we never know what life has in store or when we’ll spend our final moments with somebody we love. Make the most of those moments. Heal any wounds and atone for any wrongs. Life is short, my friends. Don’t waste any opportunity to make it beautiful.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Make Every Moment Count

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s funny how we can reach Friday and say, “This has been a really long week!” Long, compared to what? A shorter week? I’m not talking about working hours, or those weeks when we get a holiday. Even then, they have a way of leveling the score. I’ve often said that when you get to skip a Monday at work, you get four more to make up for it. Can I get an amen?

Yet, at the end of these “long” weeks, we always say the same thing. “I just didn’t have enough time to get it all done!” Well, which is it? If the week was noticeably longer, that excuse pretty much goes out the window. And in all honesty, there are only two ways to make a week longer – flying west or waiting for the change to Standard Time. And that only happens once a year.

Still, it’s been an exceptionally long week for me. Let’s face it, time doesn’t always fly. The more challenging the situation, the slower that clock seems to turn. There were times this week when I was pretty sure mine was broken.

One of the nice things about working from home is that “home” doesn’t always have to be in the same place. I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that really doesn’t care where I’m located, as long as I’m online during working hours. That was an unintended consequence of the pandemic, but still a blessing. And this week, I’ve been in Florida to spend time with my dad.

Yesterday that time was spent in a hospital emergency room, literally all day. I won’t go into detail, except to say there were a few hours where I wasn’t sure the day would have a happy ending. One of the most heartbreaking things we’ll ever experience is watching that example of strength we’ve known all our lives slip further into a debilitating condition with only one eventual escape.

Thankfully, things started going our way late in the afternoon and he finished the day better stabilized and gaining strength. He’s got a long recovery ahead, and I know some days will be better than others. The best I can do is be here, and make sure he knows how much I appreciate the person he is and the person he’s helped me to become.

I’ve had several conversations with my daughters and oldest grandson this week, and the thing I keep telling them is never take anything for granted. For each person in our life, there will be a last visit and a last conversation. What we’ll never know is if it’s in the future or has already happened. And that’s why it’s so important that we take advantage of those opportunities to make the time count.

I worked with a guy years ago that I didn’t particularly like, and he felt the same about me. I really can’t say why. That’s just the way it was. Our conversations were typically laced with snide remarks and disdain. I still remember the day he made an especially rude comment to me and I suggested he should kiss my behind. I wasn’t always this nice.

A few weeks later, we had to team up on a manufacturing issue, and we worked really well together. He came to respect my abilities, and I came to respect his. We never went to lunch together, but it was a pleasant experience. A month later, he had an aneurism and died. I can’t remember my final words to him, but I will always know what they might have been. Thank God we were able to work past that.

Throughout our lives, we will come to know a lot of people. Some will mean the world to us, some will be mere acquaintances, and the rest will fall somewhere in between. And whether we mean to or not, we will each leave an imprint on one another in ways we may never know. That’s why it’s so important that we think before we speak, and atone for any transgressions as quickly as possible.

To that person at work whose smile we barely notice, a smile or a warm greeting from us could mean the world. The neighbor whose lifestyle offends us may be yearning for acceptance. Even the person in handcuffs in the back seat of a police cruiser deserves our compassion. And the best part is, it’s free. It costs nothing to offer a smile or a kind word. Will it make a difference? You may never know.

I’m confident I’ll have more opportunities to spend time with Dad and let him know how much he means to me. How many more is the great unknown. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Go visit. You’ll never know when that last conversation about nothing in particular may truly be your last. Make it count.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

A Moment of Pain for a Lifetime of Love

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

For me, it’s the beginning of a different life. One where sitting up in bed isn’t met with the sound of paws coming down the hallway, there’s no need to open the back door, and my morning “hug” from my little buddy will now be a memory. Yesterday at noon, our fur-baby went to a place where there is no pain and cancer is just a word.

It was a hard thing to do, as anybody who’s been there can attest. There’s always that voice that says, “It’s only a dog.” That voice only comes from people who have never bonded with a dog, or any animal for that matter. It certainly doesn’t come from within. To me, he was a member of the family, and his passing left a hole in my heart that will never completely heal.

But I don’t want this post to be sad. I want to remember my little buddy with a smile, and know that if he could have spoken, he would have told me he hurt a lot worse than he let on, and he loved us as much as we loved him, maybe even more. And I’m sure that, once he got past the fear of another visit to the vet, he would have said, “It’s okay. Don’t be sad.”

When we open our home to an animal, this is a reality we have to accept. We don’t think about it at the time, and it never really crosses our mind over the years. We give them nourishment and love, and they reward us with silly antics and that trademark greeting every time we walk through the door. Get on Google and look up “Wheaten Greetin’.” It’ll make you smile.

I heard a speaker one time saying his wife complained that when he got home from work, he petted the dog before he kissed her.  He said, “When you meet me at the door jumping around and shaking your whole body like that, rest assured I’ll notice you first.” That pretty much sums it up.

I’ll miss him brushing against us like a cat every time he walked past. In the end, he learned he could snag the Velcro on his diaper and go commando for a few minutes. I’ll miss his 8:00 routine every evening, when he knew it was time for a treat. And don’t bother telling him the clocks changed. He knew that was just a ruse. “Don’t mess with me, Daddy! It’s 8:00, dammit!”

I’ll miss seeing him sitting up high in the passenger seat of the RV with an unmistakable smile on his face. I’ll miss him searching his toy box every time somebody came to the door, looking for the perfect gift to present. I’ll miss him snuggling next to me in bed, but only for a minute before he moved next to my feet and, eventually, to his own bed.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Every day with this little guy was worth the heartache of holding him as his life slipped away. As a close friend said last week, a moment of pain is the price of a lifetime of love. Well, it’s more than a moment of pain, but it’ll soon give way to memories that will last a lifetime.

Most of all, I think of the unconditional love that comes from an animal that truly sees us as members of their own family. To them, they’re no different than us. A little shorter maybe, and without inside bathroom privileges. But it’s the life they know, and I don’t think they even notice the difference. They accept us just as we are – two legs, no fur, and smelling like soap.

So, now we begin a life of walking into a quiet home, not tripping over toys strategically placed for our enjoyment, and having to pick up every scrap of food we drop on the floor. I’ll never again open a bag of popcorn or make scrambled eggs in the morning without those eager eyes watching my every move. He’ll always be there, waiting for his share.

I’m not sure if there’s life beyond this earth for pets, but if there is I know for certain my little buddy is running unleashed without a care in the world. His pain is gone, he can potty without difficulty, and his 8:00 treat is always on time. And most of all, I know he would be nuzzling us and gazing up with those adoring eyes as if to say, “Don’t cry – I’m right here.”

So, Buster, wherever you are, just know you will always live on in our hearts. We will always question the decision to let you go, and we will always wish we’d had a little more time. But we will never regret one moment of the time we had with you. Farewell for now. And do that dance, little buddy … it’s 8:00 somewhere.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved