“Time has a way of showing us what really matters” 

~ Unknown Author

 

I sat with Nora in her hospital room, having just finished helping her sign her legal papers.  Her mind was sharp, but her body was failing.

Nora was worn out from a heart attack and several surgeries, and the doctors said there was nothing else they could do.

She pushed past exhaustion to say goodbye to her 3 children, 8 grandchildren and countless other family members and friends.  “I might not get another chance,” she says.

When she looked up, her face sunken from lack of sleep and her lungs rattling, Nora whispered “I thought I would have more time.”

Her words hit me hard.

My immediate thought was that all too often we don’t appreciate time for the gift it is.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Time is said to be infinite.  Yet we measure it in seconds, minutes, days, weeks and years.

But that doesn’t really define time.  Time is abstract.  You can’t touch it.  You can’t see it.  Once it’s lost, you can’t recover it.

So what is time?  It is really just our experiences and encounters all tied together.

I asked Nora to tell me about some of her special times.  She talked about the Great Depression and how she was proud to have survived it.  And how she worked two jobs as a teenager to help her parents pay the bills.

She had two younger brothers who taught her to love cars instead of ballet.

She talked about Frank, the love of her life, who she married when she was 21.  She fondly recalled road trips out west in the mountains and she laughed about their camping trip up north in the rain storm and leaky tent.  Her eyes welled with tears as she told me “He’s been gone for 11 years, but I’m going to see him soon.”

Her energy grew as she talked about her children and grandchildren.  She was proud of what they had accomplished, but more proud that they had matured into good people, and truly loved each other.

Nora drifted off to sleep, her face creased with a slight smile, and I was left to wonder what Nora would have done if she had more time.

I don’t think she would have wasted it.

I am a big music fan, and there are plenty of songs that try to deal with the concept of time.

The Beatles thought they could create more time –  “eight days a week”.

The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger sang that “time is on my side”, and who’s to argue with him still rocking and rolling past age 75.

Jim Croce had his own way of collecting time:

 If I could save time in a bottle

The first thing that I’d like to do

Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away

Just to spend them with you

Don Henley sang that “There’s just so many summers, so many springs.”

 And in the song 100 Years, one of my favorites by Five For Fighting:

Half time goes by

Suddenly you’re wise

Another blink of an eye

67 is gone

The sun is getting high

We’re moving on. . .

I’m 99 for a moment

And dying for just another moment

And I’m just dreaming

Counting the ways to where you are

But the song, Seasons of Love, from the Broadway play Rent, says it all.  That song talks about the number of minutes in a year (525,600 minutes to be exact).

The song asks how you measure a year – in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in laughter, in strife?  Nope, none of those.  Instead, the song concludes:

In 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year in the life:

How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love.

We all have 24 hours in a day.  It’s how we use that time that matters.

My experience with Nora reminded me that we tend to think about time only when it becomes short.

What it should teach all of us, no matter our age, is that time is precious.  It is a gift, not to be wasted.

Speaker Michael Altshuler once said The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

Tick, tock, tick, tock.  The clock is ticking.  What are you going to do to make the best use of your time?

Don’t put off the truly important things or they will be on your mind one day when you are the one saying “I thought I would have more time.”

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