SFPNN Special Edition – 01/20/06 – REALIZE LIFE… NOW!  

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— Thanks to ValueSpeak author, Joseph Walker, for today's Special Edition

LIFE . . . NOW!
by Joseph Walker

I blame Alan Jackson.

The country music star’s wistful “Remember When” was on the radio as I was driving Beth to school this morning.  Yeah, I know – “Remember When” is a romantic song about marital memories.  I get that.  But the whole notion of looking back fondly swept over me as I glanced at my daughter.  Suddenly it hit me: we are exactly halfway through her high school career.

Fifteen months ago she was a nervous, timid sophomore trying to pick out the perfect outfit to wear on her first day of high school.  Fifteen months from now she’ll be wearing a cap and gown and confidently moving on to . . . who knows what?  Who knows where?

I don’t think she noticed the tears in my eyes as I reached over and patted her hand.  But she did smile at me – that wide-eyed, joyful smile of hers that resonates with happiness, innocence and love.  And for a moment I thought I was looking at her older sister Amy.  This is partly because Beth and Amy look a lot alike.  But it is also because it doesn’t seem like so long ago – could it possibly be 11 years? – that Amy was in the car next to me as I drove her to high school.  Amy would’ve been singing along with Alan Jackson because Amy was always singing.  And she would’ve been wearing a baseball hat because she got up late and didn’t have time to do her hair.

That baseball hat used to bug me.  But now, the memory of it makes me smile.

I blink, and suddenly it’s as if Joe Jr. is sitting in the car next to me.  We’re driving home from basketball practice at the high school, and he says he will starve to death if I don’t stop at Wendy’s and buy him a triple cheeseburger.  Since we’re a good five minutes away from home, and since dinner is probably 15 or 20 minutes from being on the table, I stop.  I mean, I couldn’t let my child starve, could I?  The burger is gone before we get home, and it doesn’t put a dent in his appetite for dinner.

His contented burp is still echoing in the car.  I can hear it even if nobody else can.

I blink again, and now it’s Andrea sitting next to me.  And if Andrea is sitting next to me and we’re driving to school, I’m laughing.  For some reason Andrea felt it was her moral obligation to entertain me as I drove her to school each morning.  Mostly she would do it with her voices and accents – she was an actress, and she loved experimenting with different sounds that she could make.  And I loved listening to her.  I would smile all the way to work after dropping her off.  And now, even seven years later, I’m still smiling.

Only now I’m smiling at Beth.  To her, it’s just another morning on the way to school.  But to me, it’s suddenly important, and I want to remember every detail: the smell of the strawberry yogurt she’s eating while we drive, the sight of her trying to heft her huge pink book bag to her shoulder (why has she adjusted the strap so it hangs so low?), the pleasant sensation of her lips brushing my cheek as she kisses me good-bye, the sound of Alan Jackson singing on the radio: “We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad for all the life we’ve had, and we’ll remember when.”

Near the end of Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town,” a character is given the opportunity to go back in time to re-live a simple, ordinary day of her life.  She is stunned by how little we appreciate the everyday wonders of life and the people with whom we share it.  “Oh, earth,” she exclaims, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you!”

Please don’t let this be so for you and your loved ones.  Realize them now.  Savor each moment with them for what it is: a glorious, wondrous gift from God.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to take Jon, our youngest, to junior high.

I just hope Alan Jackson isn’t singing on the radio.

— © Joseph Walker

For more ValueSpeak, please visit http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm

E-mail Joseph at: valuespeak@msn.com 

Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.


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