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Warmest regards: Making your time count

Times News columnist Rich Strack is one of my favorite writers. His columns often have the power to stop me in my tracks to think about his words.

That was the case with his column “In just 15 seconds.”

“In comparison to the life span of the cosmos, a human being who lives to be 75 years old will have a 15-second life span,” he writes.

Life goes by so fast and it’s over in a blink. I can see why it seems like we have a 15-second life span.

After he gets us to accept that premise, Rich has a challenging question:

“So, what have you been doing with your 15 seconds?”

Rich often encourages us to make our time here both mindful and meaningful.

“In the end, it’s impossible to have a great life unless it’s a meaningful life,” he writes, quoting author Jim Collins.

I often find myself making the same points that Rich does. We are both acutely aware of the short time we get here and we both encourage readers not to waste one day of the short time we have.

“We better not procrastinate to live meaningful. Fifteen seconds is all we have,” Rich says.

I think I especially related to his column because I have spent a great deal of time wondering why some people act as if life is forever. They feel no urgency to get rid of their own grudges and the negative emotions that are taking up too much space in their minds.

Often, they are caught short when it’s too late for them to make amends they should have made long ago.

That was the case when one of my relatives was ranting and raving, mad at God for taking her sister Margaret before they had a chance to end the hard feelings that were keeping them apart.

For many years I had listened to this relative carrying on about her sister. She and Margaret were always more than sisters. They were “best buds,” talking several times a week and being there for each other.

But suddenly, she didn’t want to talk to her sister anymore, saying Margaret was “too bossy.” Margaret and her two daughters were at a loss to understand what happened. All three kept calling the alienated sister but she refused to take their calls.

That went on for several years until Margaret finally gave up and stopped calling.

We never know when the window of opportunity will close, when it will no longer be in our power to heal a family rift. That day came when Margaret fell over with a fatal heart attack.

That’s when her sister got mad at God for not giving her a chance to make up with her sister. When she complained to me, I didn’t mince words.

“Margaret died at 86. How long were you going to wait until you talked to your sister?” I asked.

“I thought we would have more time,” she said.

Last week I wrote about a father and daughter who didn’t talk for 10 years. Ten years!

Each one was waiting for the other one to apologize. Meanwhile, they were missing out on the warm relationship they once enjoyed.

When the father was hit with COVID-19, his daughter finally realized they had waited far too long to end their rift. She called her father and told him she would take care of him.

Her father said getting COVID-19 was one of the best things that happened to him.

“I have my daughter back. I am treasuring every day I have with her,” he said. “But I will never stop regretting the years we missed out on.”

They were lucky. They had the gift of time to make things right. Not everyone gets that chance.

One night they sat together laughing as they looked at photos in their family album. While they enjoyed seeing their photos from the past, they deeply lamented the long 10 years when they missed out on family togetherness.

“We can’t get those years back,” the father said.

Their reunion story touched my heart in a significant way. It underscored the foolishness of carrying a grudge for years.

When we fill our hearts with negative emotions, we miss out on more life enhancing feelings.

I shared that story with a friend of mine who hasn’t talked to his twin brother for a few years. For many decades they were inseparable, as close as heartbeats. He won’t say why he and his twin had a falling out. I’m not sure he knows.

What I am sure of is that when we get older we lose family members one at a time until there is a great void. The void comes sooner when it’s an artificial separation brought about by anger and pride.

I don’t understand why so many families let little hurts grow into a mountain of anger and resentment.

When little kids get mad at each other, for the most part they get over it quickly and play together again.

As we get older we’re supposed to get smarter. It’s seldom smarter to walk away from family.

We don’t know how much time we will have or when our 15 seconds will be over.

While we can, we need to make the most of the seconds we do have.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.