Yesterday my step son had to put down his four-legged companion of the past fifteen years. The dog had lived well beyond her expected lifetime, but that did not make it any easier. He and his sister spent the afternoon with Princess spoiling her with peanut butter and cinnamon rolls, laying with her on the lawn where she had grown up from a puppy, and saying their goodbyes. It was a difficult time for everyone.
Sometimes retirement is a time when we must say our goodbyes to people and things we have loved. Once you reach a certain age it is inevitable that you will begin to see more people you know or admire in the obituary columns. This is why it is so important to spend time with the people that you love now.
The rapid pace of daily life too often distracts us from what we really want to be doing. Before we know it, years have passed and we find ourselves looking back on memories of people, places, and things that played a significant role in our lives. Some people we meet will barely cast a shadow, while others will have a real impact. But we never know how long we have left with people we care about.
Friends that we have had forever should not be taken for granted. Family that on occasion annoys us should be shown a bit more patience and understanding. Co-workers who may not have the best work ethic are still people living lives filled with challenges and deserving of our compassion. If you have something that you want to share, now is the time. If you wait too long to appreciate someone while they are still here, you may miss your opportunity all together. Few of us will be given a second chance to make right what we neglected the first time around.
The time will come when someone important to you is no longer here and everything you would like to say will remain unsaid. Here are a few things you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow:
- Take the time to say "I love you" to those dearest to you. In our family we make a point of sharing these simple but magical words every time we say goodbye, whether on the phone or face to face.
- Let go of a grudge you have been stubbornly clinging to. In the overall scheme of things, how important is it really?
- Forgive an offense that still upsets you whenever you think of it. Holding onto anger will slowly eat you up inside.
- Really listen when someone talks to you, and hear the meaning behind the words.
- Step outside of the hustle and bustle and spend some quality time with important people in your life.
- Pay attention to the little things which may hint at more important issues.
- Don’t wait.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.