I just got back from a vacation to our place in Minnesota. The term vacation barely applies to me. I packed the car with a chain saw, an extra chain, a lawn vacuum, gloves, a cordless drill, safety glasses and food because I was going to be burning a lot of calories. I drove 11 hours to get there and the next day I fired up the John Deere mower and began my chores. It takes about 3 days to get around our place once with the mower. Then I grabbed the weedeater and spent another day cutting brush, just to keep the forest from taking back its own. Then, my son and I, cut down a dead birch tree that was hanging over the lake. We dropped it right in the water and then floated it down the lake to a low spot where we could get it out and cut it up for firewood. Actually, the frigid water felt pretty good but the leeches, not so much. When it rained, I slept or cooked dinner. The only part of the word vacation that applies is vacate. At least I was working somewhere else and the view was prettier.
I have always enjoyed my solitude far too much and I’m starting to realize it may not be good for me. When my friend Nancy died recently, it really hurt me to realize how much I missed her and then the guilt set in. I didn’t even know she was sick. How sad is that? Maybe the reality is that I work hard so I won’t have to find time to stay in touch. If I fill up my days with foster children, long drives and then a few chores at home I can justify my solitude by calling it my duty. I get to feel good about taking on a lot of responsibility that allows me to put my relationships on hold. Then when they die, like Nancy just did, I can just write about how wonderful they were after they’re gone. An hour of writing to make up for 10 years of neglect. Shame on me for not trying harder to stay in touch. I should have been there for her, at least once in these last days of her life. That was my duty too.
I think we all deal with this problem in different ways. Some of us are much better at staying in touch and expressing our true feelings for each other. I’m not and I regret that. If someone asks for my help, I’m ready, willing and able to do whatever needs to be done but if it’s just a plea for my time and undivided attention, I falter at that simple request. There is something about my personality that makes me crave responsibility and resist taking time off just to relax and smell the roses. My son, Thomas, actually helped me realize this propensity while we were at the lake. He and his fiance, Leah, and her daughter, Verity, were staying in another cabin at the other end of the property but they came to our cabin for dinners. One night, it was raining hard when they climbed out of his truck in front of our place. Leah ran for the door but Verity took off for the swing set, down the hill. Thomas followed after her and proceeded to push her back and forth in the rain for a good 10 minutes. Thomas had asked Leah to marry him just days before so he didn’t really need to go out of his way for Verity but he did it anyway and I’m quite sure it’s something Verity and Leah will always remember about my son. I could not have been any prouder of him for doing that. For those few minutes, he was totally devoted to that little girl and for me that was a clear reminder of what life is really worth.
We each have a finite amount of time to live and to make our lives the best they can be. Being busy, working hard, being successful and achieving our goals are all part of that experience but none of those compare to just being a compassionate person who gives to others whatever they need at that moment. All it took for Thomas to earn his rightful place as Verity’s future father was 10 minutes in the rain in Minnesota. I will never forget the look on her rain drenched face when she finally came in for dinner. It was pure joy and that childish giddiness we all know so well. I want to feel that way again. I want to stand in the rain and not think about how tall the grass is going to be after it quits. I want to hold my wife’s hand for a few minutes without worrying about getting the dishes done. I want to be there for my friends just because they’re my friends not because there is a project that needs my attention. I want to write about all the wonderful people I know while they’re still alive to appreciate it and not wait to say, “Thanks for being such an amazing part of my life.”
So, for all of you who take the time to read my thoughts, “Thanks for everything. My life is all the more amazing because you are all in it. May God bless you and keep you happy.”
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.