Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“If I had only known it was the last walk in the rain, I’d keep you out for hours in the storm,
I would hold your hand like a life-line to my heart; underneath the thunder we’d be warm.
If I had only known it would be our last walk in the rain.”
(Reba McIntyre, If I Had Only Known)
I had seen that faraway pensive look in her eyes before. It’s been a number of years and I have seen it at times since. I always hope it’s not something that’s troubling her; and I always want to take it from her if it is. Sometimes she would tell me what she was thinking, sometimes not. She would usually tell her Mimi what was on her mind, and for that I was always thankful.
“What are you thinking about, Hannah?” I asked.
I leaned back in the chair hoping to reel her focus back in from somewhere out beyond where we were sitting outside around the pool. We had all been swimming and had just finished eating hotdogs from the grill—and the usual complimentary stuff that goes with them—when I had suggested that she and Mimi go ahead and swim one more time before her bedtime and I would clear the table and put everything away. It was a few weeks before her sister Ellie Kate was to be born, and we had the indescribable joy of having Hannah with us for a few days—her last trip to “Mimi’s” for the summer—before she started back to school, and we were filling each day to capacity with things she loved to do—especially this her last day with us—while trying to hold fast to her 8 pm bedtime.
“I was thinking of something, Granddaddy, but wasn’t going to say it because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” Her face was soft and radiant with gentle concern.
“That’s okay Hannah, what were you thinking?”
“Well Gran,” she began, using a term of endearment usually saved for a poignant moment, “you could clean up while Mimi and I were swimming, or, I was thinking, that you could do it after I went to bed so you could swim with us too.”
A mixture of tears and laughter bubbled from someplace still too deep within, as I looked at my Bride, Lynda, whose countenance betrayed her agreement and recollection of her efforts through the years to get me to slow down a bit and enjoy more of those “once-in-a-lifetime” moments. I don’t think she realized that I would be such a slow learner when she agreed to marry me so many years ago. Yet, even though through the years I had gotten so much better at recognizing those special moments, I still had trouble recognizing that they usually came without fanfare and fancy wrappings. Precious moments—like swimming with my Granddaughter while the dishes stood dirty until later—were all around me, perhaps never to come again.
“If I had only known I’d never hear your voice again, I’d memorize each thing you ever said.”
I pray that you know better than I did that day. I pray that you know that the dishes, the lawn, and the housework will keep. I pray that you begin to see that all the work from the office which you have earmarked as so important, pales in comparison to those “once-in-a-lifetime” moments with your spouse, your children and grandchildren, students, teammates, the players you coach, your co-workers and friends—moments that will never come again.
I pray that you will leave the dishes for later and the work for another time. I pray that you will no longer think of reasons or keep doing things to delay, postpone or preempt those “once-in-a-lifetime” memory-making moments. Because all that other stuff you have done is meaningless, in comparison, to these moments.
And I pray that expressions like these below…
“We’ll save it for a rainy day.”
“Let’s save it to use on a special occasion.”
“We can do it tomorrow.”
“I’ll call her another day.”
“If I had only…”
“Someday, we’ll have to do that.”
“One of these days, I’m going to…”
…will all begin to fade from your vocabulary, as you start to experience and live the precious “once-in-a-lifetime” moments all around you.
“If I had only known it was the last night by your side,
I’d pray a miracle would stop the dawn…
If I had only known, if I had only known…Oh, the love I would have shown…
If I had only known.”
Well, if you didn’t know before, now you know. No excuses. And I pray that you and I will continue to recognize those precious moments all around us which are gifts from Above—that will never come again. Never.
I didn’t even notice the dishes and food still sitting in the places on the table and counters where we had left them that evening, as I carefully tossed my precious Granddaughter, Hannah, into the pool for the fourth time, and waited for her to say when her head bobbed to the surface of the water…
“One more time, Granddaddy. Just one more time.”
And on and on it went into the evening—“just one more time”—again and again.
Even slow-learners known the meaning of that familiar refrain.
Even slow-learners eventually learn.
In His Name—Scott