"It's never too late to be who you might have been." George Elliot
Twenty-nine years ago today (March 2nd), my father passed away from pancreatic cancer. He was just 50 years old. We had found out that he had cancer on November 2, 1992 and just 4 months later- he was gone.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. Not a day goes by that I don't wonder if he is proud of me. Not a day goes by that I don't wish that he knew my wife and my three children.
There are times I need a dad and wish so badly that I still had one. I have gone my whole adult life without my father- without his advice, without his criticism, without his guidance, without his example of how to be a man, a husband, a father. I can't help but think that because of his absence, I am, at times, a mere shadow of who I am supposed to be….
Psalm,103:15-16, reminds us:
Man's days are like those of grass, like a flower of the field he blooms;
The wind sweeps over him and he is gone, and his place knows him no more.
On this day each year, I remember the first time my dad told me he loved me. It was the weekend after we found out he had cancer- I was a senior in college, 21 years old. I said it first, he said it back- we cried together and hugged each other- having a father and son conversation that we had never had before.
I had grown up on a farm- the 3rd generation family farm- there was plenty of work to do and no time for hugging or telling people how you felt. Expectations were high, excellence was the norm, and you could expect to hear from my dad immediately about it if you fell short of his standards of quality. I knew he loved me- he worked so hard to provide for me and wanted the best for me- but he hadn't actually said it- that's not how he grew up so he didn't know how to say it- at least that's what my mom told me.
Why did we wait for so long to tell each other how we felt? Telling each other how we felt changed our whole relationship. We forgave each other for the many wrongs we had done over the years to each other. He told me he was proud of me- of who I was and of what I had accomplished. I told him I was sorry of being embarrassed of a dad who was a farmer- of someone who smelled like the barn and dressed like the cast of Hee Haw (you may have to look that one up, young folks!).
We had four months together this way. Four months of loving each other this way. Four months of beginning to understand one another in new ways and realizing that perceived disappointments and frustrations were really just misperceptions and misunderstandings. Four months of happiness of just being together- even if it included carrying him to the bathroom for a bath the last weekend I visited him.
How much time do you have? There is no time to waste! How could your relationships change if you could just open up, be honest, and share how you really feel with the people who are most important in your life? Whom do you need to forgive? What misunderstandings do you need to clear up?
Dr. Seuss reminds us:
Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don't, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get the chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.
I urge you to do it now. Let down your guard, be open, be vulnerable, be real. Don't wait. You may have four months. You may have four days. You may have forty years. It doesn't matter how long you have- now is the time to be who God created you to be.