Monthly Archives: December 2011

Walk With Me

He never called me by name. I wasn’t too surprised. He didn’t use my name when I saw him last at my cousin’s wedding. Still it was hard not hearing him say it.  Grandpa is a solid six foot four, at least he was when he was younger. He prides himself in taking long walks and eats a banana with peanut butter for supper to keep his good cholesterol up and his bad cholesterol down. I’m sure his heart is healthy, but his mind is beginning to slip.

When I was younger, I used to go with grandpa on his daily walk. It was one of the few things I’d actually get up early for. We would bike for a stretch then I would do my best to keep up with his long stride. He’d cut his walk short when I tagged along so that my little feet wouldn’t get too tired.

On this visit to Florida I was feeling a bit restless. It was a beautiful day outside and my Canon Rebel was begging for some attention. I asked my sister if she wanted to go for a walk and Grandpa decided to join us. They walked ahead while I snapped pictures of Spanish moss and anything else that caught my eye.

Grandpa took the lead showing us the scenic route which cut through several private yards. I tried to steer him back to the road as best I could. Along the way he picked up several empty beer cans, and a monster can telling the story of how when he first took crushed cans to the scarp yard they’d paid him sixty dollars. I smiled. So far this trip I’d heard that story three times.

It’s not easy seeing a man who earned a master’s degree in mathematics struggle to come up with the word “wasp” describing what he wants to say until someone gives him the word. “That thing that flies and builds mud houses.”

I knew grandpa wouldn’t admit when he was tired, so I suggested we turn back after going 15 minutes out. As we entered the cul-de-sac an aluminum can in the neighbor’s trash caught his eye. He circled back to grab it. I watched him teeter as the sharp turn upset his balance. Grabbing the garbage can, I tried to steady it and prevent him from doing a complete head dive into the trash can. My sister grabbed his arm, and we both stood there straining under his weight wondering how we were going to call for help.

“I can get up,” he said after we had stood there tense for what seemed like ten minutes but was more likely 30 seconds. Methodically he paused to regained his balance, reached for the aluminum can, then pushed up on the plastic garbage can to get back on his feet. I reached into the trash to pull his watch out which had fallen from his front shirt pocket during the tumble. There was a time when Grandpa cut his walks short for my little legs now I just wanted to get him back home so he could rest in his favorite chair.

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No Regrets

A friend of mine showed me a short youtube film the other day called “Fifty People, One Question.” It was interesting. A camera crew went to a busy area and filmed fifty different people going throughout their day and asked each person the same question. I loved watching how people reacted to the question, processing how they will respond, then sharing a part of their heart. The beauty of the film is not only seeing a wide the variety of faces but hearing about what really matters to people.

The question in the particular video I watched was, “What is your biggest life regret?” A couple people said they didn’t have any regrets, another said I have so many. Some wished they had pursued their dream to be a musician, a couple wished they were younger. One man flat out said, “I can’t answer that question.”

A lot regretted something in regard to their education, not spending enough time with a family member, or losing connection with a friend. One man said, “Not taking enough deep breaths.” A girl regretted not traveling more when she had the opportunity. One of my favorite answers was from an elderly man who wished he had married his childhood sweetheart 50 years ago. She moved away, but they reconnected 50 years later and had now been married a year.

One lady answered, “I try not to regret anything. Take life as it comes, enjoy it, and don’t bother with regrets. They are not worth the effort.” There is so much wisdom in the film’s collage of answers. People matter, dreams matter, traveling is enriching, family is important, learning is essential.

You can’t turn back the clock and become ten years younger. You shouldn’t spend life agonizing over regrets, but it is helpful to learn from other people’s. I found it interesting that not one person said they wished they had bought a nicer car, or TV. No one agonized over not spending more time collecting designer shoes because in the end, it’s not about stuff.

Next month I’m going to take a trip with two very good friends from college. Our birthdays are all around the same time, and I’m so excited about being able to spend time with both of them. My friend Lydia found some super saver economy tickets to San Francisco, California, so we’re just going to go.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends, visiting a city I’ve never been to, taking time out to breathe (hopefully by the ocean) and doing some journaling. I don’t want to look back at life and regret not taking out more time to actually enjoy life. I don’t want to look back and wish I’d spent more time staying connected with friends. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip. Yeah, someday I probably should save up money for a better car, but my little retro-mobile (while nothing fancy) still runs, so I’m happy. This trip is going to be priceless, something I know I won’t regret.

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The Weather Outside

Three days into December, and it’s hard not to feel the nippiness. I’m not a fan of winter.  Growing up in central Africa showed me that life does not have to be this cold. But I’m here not there, and every time I step outside the icy chill reminds me that winter will be here for awhile.

This week I was driving home after scraping ice off the inside of the windshield of my car (not sure how that even happened), and as I turned the corner coming into town Christmas lights greeted me. Those white lights brought my cold heart some hope. “It’s going to be Christmas soon,” I thought, and suddenly the world didn’t feel quite as heartless.

The best thing about Christmas is it’s a warm glow in the middle of a harsh season. I don’t know if Christ was born on December 25th. Chances are he wasn’t, but I’m glad we celebrate His birth in December. Lights, togetherness, hot chocolate, and colored ornaments. Christmas music, gifts, and time set aside to remember the birth of the prince of peace.

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