|Don't Take Thinks For Granted
There is a bouquet of zinnias in my bathroom in a tall ivory vase. They are red, purple and burnt orange. The color is more vivid than a Kodachrome slide. They appear there every few days during the summer, almost as if by magic.
I’ve never seen them wilt. While I’m running around chasing story leads and interviewing people, a new arrangement of flowers finds its way onto my vanity. This morning as I straightened my collar, before heading out to a noon luncheon, I noticed a new arrangement.
Leaning down, the gentle fragrance of the fragile flowers drifted straight through to my brain sending me back 50 years to my great grandmother’s porch. Closing my eyes, the color came back in a rush of memory, and I realized how easy it is to take things for granted.
I never have to think of clean towels, tissue in the dispenser or toothpaste in the antique Old Spice mug that holds my toothbrush and toothpaste.
It’s always there within easy reach. I tell my lovely wife Jilda thank you frequently, but is that enough? I wonder. It’s hard for me to imagine my life without her, though as a younger man the thought never crossed my mind. This week I’ve been researching a story idea and had an opportunity to talk with some WWII veterans.
All three had been married for over 55 years, and had lost their wives in the recent past. The voice of one cracked a little when talking about losing the love of his life. “I live alone now,” he said. “There are people who come in to cook, clean, and check on me, but I miss my wife more than anyone will ever know.”
There was an indescribable sadness in his voice. I paused for a moment before moving on. During the silence, I thought of the flowers on my vanity and got a lump in my throat as well.
If he’d taken her for granted when she was alive, I’d be willing to bet he’s given that a lot of thought since she passed on. The conversation with the elderly gentleman, and the sadness in his voice weighed on my mind for a long time. Jilda and I have arrived at a time in our lives where we don’t have the luxury of taking anything for granted.
You can’t flip through the paper without seeing obits of men and women our age. Jilda still weighs about what she weighed in high school, and looks much younger than her 62 years. When people learn that she’s struggling with a chronic lung issue that forces her to take five-hour infusion treatments each month, they shake their head in disbelief. “You don’t look sick,” they say.
But few have seen the side effects of a serum that looks as thick as Karo Syrup dripping through a plastic tube, and marching through every vein in her body. It’s not pretty. But thankfully, she has an appointment later this month with a doctor that specializes in her condition and there’s a good chance he can make recommendations to minimize the side effects in the future. We’re both grateful and excited.
It is not my intention to get preachy in this column, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned that I would like to share with you all it’s this — Don’t take your loved ones for granted.