Dave Brubeck is playing “Take Five” in my headphones right now. It’s eighty degrees outside, kids are running up and down the street screaming at each other, but with my headphones on, I can’t hear anything but great jazz. My black beach chair and porch are covered with mother natures excitement. I mean, everything is green, Swamp Thing I’m sure is smiling in his swamp.
The entire day has pretty much been like this. Peaceful, lovely and too short. As I look around at the setting sun, kids across the street doing cartwheels, the occasional vehicle passing by, the smell of someone cooking burgers on a grill, I can’t help but wish my weekend could last longer.
This day marks my first official weekend in eighteen years. A couple years ago I made a promise to slow down. A promise I broke, and a promise broken is a worrisome issue for me. As I can imagine it would be for you. So, after I had an unexpected stay in the hospital where they removed a vestigial organ from my abdomen, I went back to work as soon as I could. This bothered me.
Not really at first. But eventually, there was a tiny silent voice in my head that refused to be ignored. A voice of sense, reason and brutal honesty. A voice I tried to drown out with work and responsibility.
Then one night a strange thing happened, someone I care about, whose been ill for some time and whom I hadn’t even seen for months made me re-asses what I was doing. You see, I had to help out his wife, take her to an eye appointment and when I picked her up I saw him lying in his hospital bed, barely able to breathe or talk and a skeleton of the man he used to be.
This got me thinking long and hard. I’ve known this man for thirty years. Hell, I worked beside him for ten years. We put in long hours every day. Leaving before the sun was up and coming home after the sun had long went to bed. I admired his work ethic, his advice always landed upon my eager ears and he was someone I am not ashamed to say that I wouldn’t mind calling Dad. But, he is not my dad. He is my friend. And there he was, wasting away and no doctor anywhere could help him. The only one at that moment that stood beside him was his wife.
Now, I know his kids and they are always around and are to be commended for the attention and care they have given both of their parents, but in that one instance, it was just him, helpless and frail, his wife, who was going in for an eye surgery and me.
It was then that I pretty much made up my mind. Or I should say, my mind made the decision for me without my consent. After that day, working two jobs four days a week just seemed idiotic. I’d been doing this sort of crazy schedule for nigh eighteen years. With very few breaks, usually my breaks end up with me lying in a hospital bed so battered and broken that the Doctor’s have to fill me up with so much pain medicine I don’t even know my name.
These thoughts amongst the thoughts of all the moments I missed of my daughters milestones filled my head as I drove this woman to her eye appointment. The weekends at the beach (I detest the beach), which I missed and where I could have formed joyful memories with my own family raced in my mind. The dinners out with friends I missed. The communion of family I suppose, yes, the communion of my own family is what is missing in my memories. All because I was to stubborn, unwilling, responsible and obsessed with paying bills and providing for things. Instead of being obsessed with just communing with the ones I live with.
That may have been a mistake.
So, last week I told my part time job I’m going to cut my shifts down to three a week. I’m going to spend more time at home. I’m going to rest, I’m going to try and heal my broken body. I’m going to commune with those I see briefly everyday.
I believe this is the right thing to do.
And hopefully, one day my three shifts will be cut down to two shifts, then one shift and then…
I’ll be almost normal.
Have a great week! Now go and enjoy your family.