The memories that flash through our daily lives and that go unnoticed are often the ones that tend to be the most memorable. I have many times looked back on an occasion in which I wish that I had concentrated more on the important things in that moment instead of focusing on my wants, my needs, and my obsessions.
On July 14, 2008, my grandfather passed away following an epic struggle with esophageal cancer. Though I mourned his loss in the days immediately following his death, the many days and months after have been the hardest to cope with.
As I grew up, my grandfather, Papa, was always present in my life. His presence became so constant that it was routine to see him. Going over to his house for Sunday lunch became a recurring occasion, and playing golf on Saturday morning was just another day on the links. These days, I am beginning to see how his absence is affecting my life. Whenever I am in a specific situation or am doing a certain thing that Papa used to do, my mind floods with memories of the precious time we spent together. It is not the things that I remember about Papa that have changed my life, but it is those memories that I let slip by that pull at my conscience.
As the holiday season approaches, I am reminded of the family gatherings my family had up in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina during Thanksgiving. Papa, strong and able, would tell us stories of what he did on Thanksgiving when he was a little boy growing up in the swamps of Johns Island. These stories of his boyhood were priceless, but I never fully listened intently enough to be able to really cherish the moments. Now that those moments are gone, I regret not listening. Christmas was also always a special time for family gatherings. Papa and Precious would always join us for Christmas breakfast and for the opening of gifts. I was often too caught up in the gifts that I had received than noticing the joy in Papa’s face, not from what he received, but just the pleasure in watching his four grandchildren open their presents. These moments I also regret not cherishing.
I plan to change my life by savoring every moment with my family, even if it is not an occasion I would like to be attending. Papa’s sudden death awakened me to how ignorant I was to let those special memories pass. Now that they are gone, they will never return, but I will make do with the memories that are made today and live in the present as if it were my last day. I will respect my parents more, show more love to my siblings, and fill myself with the memories that are to be made. Life goes by too fast to not notice the memories that are before us today. May those memories be cherished and may they last a lifetime.