I sincerely hope my regular readers — which could be a half dozen or a few thousand, I don’t honestly know — understand I really try my best not to be preachy, at least as things relate to how people should live their lives. While I’m writing this column to offer some advice based on personal experience, it’s by no means with a know-it-all attitude.
I’ll just say it: 2017 has been by far the hardest year of my life. For those of you who know my whole life story, you immediately realize that’s quite a statement. Without getting into details, let’s just all take it as fact I’ve been through many blessings, struggles and seasons during my time on this orb. While I’ve enjoyed myriad blessings over the years, they haven’t been in focus during the past several years of my life — the last year in particular.
It all began when my mom’s health started failing last September. What “all began” in reality was what my mom had been telling me for the past few years: That one day her heart would give out and she wouldn’t be here.
Even though we talked at length at the hospital that the doctors could find nothing wrong, I didn’t listen to what she was saying. She was telling me she was about done here on earth and it was only a matter of days, weeks and if lucky, a month or two. Couple that with the fact that hospice was doing her follow up home care and you’d think I’d take the hint. Hint: I didn’t.
Mom passed just a few short weeks after that initial hospital visit. And after mom’s funeral, it was on to Dad and the things he needed me to do in his life.
We made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. But once the holidays were over, Dad decided the house was too much. So I sold the house. I got dad moved into senior housing and after he was settled, I even managed to get him onto a plane to Wisconsin and Michigan for a grandson’s wedding and a last trip home.
But that all changed in early July when Dad suffered a recurring septic infection that landed him in the hospital for three months. During that time I had to move him out of his apartment — his belongings fill my garage to this day — and into assisted living, where he unfortunately fell his first day there, landing him back in the hospital until just this week.
While these very personal, tragic happenings were going on, life got away from me and things piled up on a personal level. Trust me, you don’t want to know. Let’s just say the ever-growing snowball had momentum.
So why do I bother telling readers this history? I don’t know. I think some of it is therapeutic. Some of it is to express to readers and advertisers why I’ve seemed out of sorts at times. And some of it, I hope, is to help folks realize life goes on around all of these unexpected events whether we want it to or not.
There’s probably some guilt in all of this, too. I say guilt because in the middle of all of this are two wonderful kiddos who need and deserve my attention. If I was honest, I’d say they aren’t getting 100 percent of it. There’s a business that’s has suffered due to my lack of focus on it while over-focusing on all of this other stuff.
There’s other things I could be doing for the community, for the non-profits in town, for my service club and yes … for ME. I’m not making light of how serious the “other stuff” is, I’m just saying it didn’t need to take over my life the past year. Nothing is so tragic that we have to forget the rest of our lives. No problem is so big it can’t be solved. And nothing should stop us from doing things we’re put on this planet to do, no matter how much clutter life hands us.
As my devotion stated today: Get rid of the clutter and focus on what needs doing.
And whether that’s your mom telling you what’s what, doing the best job you can, reducing clutter to get life in order, your kids needing your help or your dad who’s counting on you, do the important stuff — even if it’s a much-needed golf trip for you. The clutter will always be there and it’s overwhelming. Just look in my garage. My devotion also said to look to God in the important things to find peace so things aren’t too big to handle.
For me, this is the only way I can flip the switch from “I have to” to “I get to” in doing what’s on my plate.
Last year I had to. Next year I get to. I think we can all apply this simple principle no matter how cluttered, tragic, wonderful, busy, dull or blessed our lives are.
Getting to do 2018 is a blessing. And “getting to” can be the difference in our lives. I pray that no matter the source, you find your “get to.”
I also wish you a blessed Christmas and prosperous new year.