Curtain Calls and Encores

Curtain_callsI am like so many others that give lip service to the phrase, “Life is short, so make the most of it.” I’ve never been really sure what that phrase actually means. It’s true that life can end without warning, or can be drawn out in an elaborate medical drama that begs for a happy ending that never comes. It’s the “…make the most of it” part that is elusive.

In January of 1996 my Grandma Jo passed away. She lived a long and amazing life by my standard. Over the previous 25 years she’d fought and beat back cancer on three occasions, out living two doctors that gave her little hope of surviving the omens of death. Grandma Jo was, for me at least, a model of perseverance and grace along her path, the true embodiment of living in the moment.

When my mother moved us four kids to Eatonville Washington on the last day of August 31 1970, Grandma Jo took the day off of attending church to pick us up. Other than a brief meeting some seven years earlier, we did not know her, this was as much an adventure as it was a mystery for all of us.

The day after arriving she took off from her job as the town Librarian to enroll us in the local schools. I remember feeling like a bit of a celebrity in town, each time I mentioned her name, even among kids in my class, many knew her and would smile. She had a gift of observing the behaviors of the kids in the library and figuring out what they would truly enjoy reading. I was astounded at how she zeroed in on my fascination with the Indians of North America. The first complete book I ever read was about Chief Blackhawk, a book tossed into my hands by Grandma Jo one rainy afternoon while I visited her at work. What a moment that was!

In Grandma’s last months on earth I spent a few days each week at her home in Eatonville some 40 miles away, only my mother was with her more in her final winter of life. Once she was gone, more would be lost of what she knew than would remain I feared. I wanted to persevere to the end with her, live in the moments that I knew would soon be gone.

This week I was confronted by two events with lessons to be harvested.

First, my ex-wife’s father in-law (her new husband’s father) passed away. My son has spent many holidays with his step-grandparents, this week my son had to deal with the death of someone he knew and loved for the very first time. I’m thankful that he was with me when the phone call came, at just 12 years of age he wasn’t sure what was expected of him in the way of outward emotion. This feeling of confusion was no stranger to me as I lost my own father when I was just nine years old. His mother wasn’t present to see his reaction, she must have felt awful about it too. After the phone call Chris came to me and said his stomach was upset. Sometimes a hug is better than words.

Next, a Canadian friend of mine was in a head on collision this week. Her daughter contacted me with the news, I was stunned. Less than a month ago she was supposed to accompany me to my high school reunion, canceling shortly before. Her daughter sent pictures of the car. How could anyone have survived such an ordeal? But survive she did. A few days in the hospital, then off to her daughter’s to recover. It could have been her curtain call, instead she was delivered to an encore, saving her granddaughter from my son’s fate.

“Life is short…”

In one week four of life’s dramas played out, one life ends while another is delivered to the stage again. One son faces the finality of death for the first time while his father is helpless to save him from it.

“…make the most of it”

Making the most of our lives is what we actually do each day, persevere through the bad times, and revel in the good. You can’t stop the next moment from playing out as scripted, for some it’s a final curtain call, for others it’s an encore. If you’ve been given an encore on life’s stage then hand out books, spend time with people that count, kiss your parents, hug your kids, live a dramatic life and end it all with no regrets.

Thanks for reading this far.

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8 comments for “Curtain Calls and Encores

  1. Brad Beerdrinker
    July 29, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Wow! It's good to be reminded that life is fragile and that we will eventually lose the ones we love. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. Mine is in very poor health right now and I know her time is running out. We can never tell people we love them enough.

  2. Tim H
    July 26, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Eve – I'm glad my words rang true for you. Encores are always sweet, I say! It's for everyone to determine the point of this blog for themselves, as for me, I believe in 'redeeming the time' as the phrase goes. My friend will be struggling some with her recovery, an accident like the one she had is not without it's long term challenges. Her vehicle was not moving at all. She has been in touch and acknowledged the event as being something of a wake up call for her extended family. It's sad when we 'need' to be woken up, but at least we have a loving God that is willing to shake and wake us.

    I'm happy for the wonderful rebound your mother has had.

  3. ****
    July 26, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    What a beautiful blog for me toread this evening,..and particularly apprapo for my situation with my mother. Seems she has been given a short encore of sorts as she has improved dramatically over the last week and might even be well enough to leave the nursing facility. I am soaking up every second of her encore, for sure. Hope your son continues to lean on you and his family for support.

  4. Tom West â„¢
    July 20, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    So you're pondering the concept of the Oracle telling Neo exactly what he needed to hear in order to make his decision, and did that cause anything to change? Gotchya.

    I believe that predetermination exists if you base all of your thoughts on what the future holds for you based on the knowledge from your past. If you do not learn anything new, you can only build a future for yourself based on old knowledge, and therefore your future is limited and predetermined. It's the old "self-fulfilling prophecy."

    I believe we have complete and total free will, and that our thoughts and beliefs on anything and everything create the future that happens to us. Quantum physics has shown that we as observers collapse energy into matter when we observe it to be. Until we observe it, every possible potential exists simultaneously in all time flows.

    If you are living a life you don't like, you can change it by focusing yourself on a dream of something better, then learning everything you can about that dream and then applying it. Knowledge without application is just philosophy. The difficulty in all of this is that in order for your experience to change, each of us individually has to change our attitudes and our thinking. That change is unsettling, and for most people is too chaotic to embrace.

    So, you can be predetermined. Or not. Potentially, both exist.

  5. Donna
    July 20, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Great post! A neighbor of ours passed away Thursday, this is three deaths in the 6 houses on our block since last winter, but a few months ago our next door neighbors had a new baby, and last week the kids across the street had a new one too. ~The circle of life.

  6. Tim H
    July 20, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Sunny – My friend will likely recover fully albeit slowly, I like that last paragraph too.

    Tom – Mostly Tom, I do. It's a chicken or the egg scenario for me. If we see a future for ourselves that we don't like, of course if is in our power to alter it. But there's the rub, were we suppose to make the adjustment or did we really have full control over our destiny all along. Consider the movie series, The Matrix. The final release demonstrated that Neo had been to the end many many times. Even the ending left you wondering if the cycle had really been broken. Within the constraints of the Matrix, all of the people had some control.

    Consider deja vu, I take it as a confirmation I'm where I belong at that time. I would even go as far as to say God is guiding my path. What do you believe in that regard?

  7. Tom West â„¢
    July 20, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Tim, you say "You can't stop the next mometn from playing out as scripted." Does this mean you believe in predetermination?

  8. Sunny Bee
    July 20, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Wow Tim…I am sorry to hear about that…I hope your friend is okay!!!! You are right….and I LOVE the last paragraph….so true!

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