Tell Someone Thanks

ben-white-128604-unsplashPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash

I like to run.  I always have.  Where I live now I have two courses I usually run.  One is at Toccoa Falls College which is a beautiful spot to just enjoy a run.  The second spot is a local cemetery.  I know that sounds strange but there is something just peaceful about running there.

Over the course of many miles, I have had the chance to read many of the tombstones.  One family plot really got my attention.  This plot is a small section containing four headstones.  Mom and dad are there.  Dad lived to be 62.  Mom lived to be 78.  One interesting thing is the two small headstones next to mom and dad.  Two children are buried here.  The first is a son who lived for one day. Dad was 24 when his son died.  Mom was 22. The second is a daughter who also lived for only one day.  Dad was 23 when he lost his daughter.  Mom was 21. There is no indication the family had any other children.  I just stood next to the graves wondering about what this family had endured.

It is hard for me to imagine losing a child.  Losing two children when you are in your twenties?  That’s hard to take.  Then going the rest of your life with no children had to lead to some deep feelings for both mom and dad and some interesting private conversations.

So, as we approach Thanksgiving why even talk about this?  Here is why.  Many of us have family members who are still living.  Yet, we get caught up in non-stop work, texts, email, and other things that rob us from spending time with our family.  We get so busy with the daily grind in our lives that we forget to tell our family how important they are to us and that we really do love them.

We forget to ask our kids what is happening in their lives and what is important to them.  We forget to listen.  We get into a routine that keeps us from spending time with our spouse doing something that is important to them.  We don’t intend to let time get away from us but it just seems to happen. I would bet that the family who lost their two children would talk privately about how they would give anything to have their kids with them throughout their lives.

Many of us do have our kids and our spouse with us every day.  They are gifts.  Be thankful for them and let them know it this Thanksgiving.

For those who are not married or do not have children…you have others who care about you.  Mom and/or dad, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. There is someone in your life who really cares about you.  Let them know how thankful you are for them too. I bet someone in your life would love a phone call this Thanksgiving.

Hey…I’m Off to College!

College freshmen…this one is for you. It’s almost time to be dropped off to start your first year of college. I have been watching parents and new freshman go through this ritual for almost twenty-five years.

The scenario looks like this. A car that is completely stuffed comes through the entrance to the college. In the car are mom, dad, and as many brothers and sisters as can possibly fit. Mom and dad look apprehensive. You look a bit nervous but are trying to portray that cool college look. You know the one I mean.

You arrive at the residence hall and begin unpacking. Mom wants to see the dorm room. Dad is making sure everything gets unpacked properly. The brothers and sisters simply follow along. You are looking around to see who is watching and to also make sure you continue to maintain that cool factor through this entire process.

Soon mom wants to get the dorm room organized…new sheets on the bed, towels hung up, and pictures on the wall. Dad is pretty quiet just walking around looking at everything. A part of you feels a little bit embarrassed that your new dorm friends will think your family is a bit weird. You might even want your parents to stop helping so much.

May I give you some advice? Of all days just let your parents dote on you today. Let them get your room set up, let them go to the store for you, let them talk with everyone in your dorm. Your parents need this. Today is hard on them. They are saying good-bye to you. They have spent the last 18 years taking care of you and when they drive away from your dorm today their lives, like yours, have changed forever.

Make it special for them. Let them take a million pictures. Let them pose you for the pictures, let them hug you; let your dad give you his last bit of advice. Let them love you. Let them pray for you. It’s a tough day for them too.

As you think about the excitement of the future your parents will be remembering the day you were born, when you were six and broke your arm, when they taught you to drive, your first date…it will all come rushing in on them.

So today, hug them when you don’t have to. Tell them you love them. Thank them for shaping your life. Thank them for the years of investing in you. Thank them for sending you to college.

…and right before they leave tell them you love them…again.