September 4, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
Earlier this week I left my phone at work. I’d plugged it in to charge at the side of my desk, then got distracted by other things as I was leaving and completely forgot it. I was twenty minutes into my half-hour drive home before I realized I didn’t have it with me.
It was oddly liberating to be untethered for the evening. The next morning, however, I discovered just how much the phone has become a part of my morning routine.
I had a disturbingly anxious and twitchy moment when I wanted to check email on my phone to kill time while waiting for my computer to start.
Think about that for a moment.
I’m telling that story just to prove to myself that there really isn’t enough to the tale to warrant being it’s own blog post and I can’t avoid actually writing about what I’ve known for weeks I’d be writing about today, no matter how much I don’t want to.
(And that randomly convoluted sentence will serve as the clumsiest segue since this happened.)
Early last month my mom had a garage sale. A week before the sale my wife helped her sort through all the things in her house that she considered clutter so she could decide what to sell and what to simply throw out. After work I went over to join them.
A lot of the items scattered into piles around the living room were things that my dad had acquired over the years.
Over in the corner there was a box overfilled with framed photographs. I’ve written before about how Dad had a knack for nature photos, especially sunrises and sunsets. This box was evidence of his skill and artistic eye. I immediately claimed it for myself.
A couple of weeks later my wife took a week off work for a staycation, during which she painted half the house, re-tiled the front entrance, and rearranged the furniture seven times, because that’s how she relaxes.
One evening I came home and found that she had emptied the box of photos, hanging them in our home. I hadn’t realized until that moment just how much those picture meant to me. As I type this, my dad’s photographic art adorns the walls around me and it makes me smile.
Today, September 4th, marks five years since my father died.
Five years and two days ago I was a selfish coward. I did not go with my wife and son when they went to visit my dad at the care home because it wouldn’t leave me enough time to get to work. That’s what I said at the time, anyway. The timing would have been tight but I could have made it work if I’d wanted to. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to see Dad sitting in that chair, trying to smile with his eyes because that was the last form of expression he had left. His body was failing him and he was trapped inside, barely able to communicate but still with so much to say.
It was difficult for me to see him like that so I made an excuse and mumbled a promise to myself that I’d go see him on Sunday, probably, you know, unless something came up, but I’d try.
I didn’t actually consider what a visit would mean to him, that maybe just seeing his family for a few minutes might be all he needed to remind him that he’s loved. It’s so simple and obvious and it didn’t occur to me at all.
And two days later he died.
So, yeah, I’ve been trying to avoid talking about this because, apparently, I still haven’t learned and avoiding difficult things is my default setting.
Find the people that are important to you, the people that matter in your life, and tell them you love them. Do it now, today. Then do it again tomorrow. And again the day after that. They need to hear it from you. It matters.
We all need to make a daily habit of telling the people we love that we love them.
That is a much better habit than checking email on a phone while waiting to check email on a computer.
And try to be nice to each other.