We have all heard the saying, “I’m having the time of my life.” It is usually expressed by someone who is in the midst of having great fun, maybe on vacation, during a family event, or some other special activity. It communicates a heightened sense of joy, appreciation, or well-being one is experiencing at the moment.
But there is a use of the that saying that we employ in a whimsical, melancholy, and reflective way. Sometimes, we do not recognize “the times of our life” when in the midst of them and come to realize later we did not appreciate them or fully redeem them in order to get everything out of them we might have.
I’ve come to the point in my life that I’m looking back and longing for epochs of life and events that were very special but which I did not realize were “the time of my life” while I was in the midst of them. For whatever reason, I did not realize at the time how special those things were.
I look back with a level of pining for the time Michal and I had “our bairns about us”. I was so busy church building and doing life that I often failed to realize how special those days were. Michal always did. But I, often, did not.
Because Michal homeschooled our brood, my kids were always home whenever I came home. I did not realize at the time how special that was. I did not realize what fun it was to take my day off and be able to go “do something” as a family. I did not stop and think of how good it was to have a full house smattered with joy, sorrow, discipline, learning, sibling conflicts, and everything else that goes along with rearing a family. I did not fully appreciate how special it was to come home from the office on Saturday evenings to a beehive of activity as the family was preparing for the Lord’s Day. Almost invariably, Emilee would be helping mom clean up the house one last time before Sunday. To have a full dinner table was a special treat I did not appreciate enough. Now that it is just Michal and me, I long for the din of family chatter that I so took for granted for 20 plus years. Somehow, I thought those days would never end. But they did.
I now look back on our family vacations with yearning. Certainly, they were fun as we were experiencing them. I wonder, though, but that I did not fail to “suck the marrow” out of such things and appreciate them and get everything out of them possible. I look back on the holidays and the precious traditions we developed that are now gone and it saddens me that they are largely lost.
Well, you get the idea. So why do I write this? Today, I have so much for which to be thankful. No more than 2 ½ – 3 years ago, Michal and I had no grandchildren near us. Ethan and Sarah, who live here in Livonia, had not yet had Ellorie. Emilee and Matt and their four children were in Minot, North Dakota, having been five years prior to that out in California. Everette and Grace and their two were still in Virginia. Evan and Jena were in Louisville. And Elise was still in South Africa.
Today, save for Evan and Jena and their two boys who are still in Louisville, all our children and grandchildren are about us. Every Sunday after church, all the Michigan contingent comes over for a family dinner. It is a bit crowded and noisy…oh, but what a time we’re having. Currently, on any given day of the week, we have the joy of being able to see eight of our ten grands (#11 soon to be here, Lord willing). As I write this, Everette and Grace’s two, Marcus and Titus, are at our house with Ama (Michal). On virtually any day we can see seven of our 10 children (Eddie is still in South Africa and we are praying fervently for him to be able to come to Michigan to marry Elise, but we count him). The delight this brings me is immense. To see our children and all the cousins playing together and loving each other along with Ama and Apa is special. I’m having the time of my life.
You know what I realized, perhaps a bit late? Today is the time of your life. John Lennon, in 1980 published a song for his son (Beautiful Boy) in which he said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Perhaps he was feeling like he was missing something with his young son and his busy life was not allowing him to appreciate time with his son. As you may recall, in December of that year, Lennon was shot to death outside his condo in New York City.
I have decided I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. I’m going to realize that this time, this circumstance, this epoch of life is the time of my life and I’m intending to squeeze every drop out of it that I can. Perhaps it is a function of age, but I take every day as a gift, every ounce of good and enjoyment of my life, family, and friends as the grace of God and as a dwindling commodity. And I want to live it for all it is worth. You?