When you leave today, don’t expect to come back
I could tell when my friend called me from Austin last weekend, he was not paying me a social call. Absent from our conversation was the normal bantering of insults hurled at each through laughter. My heart immediately dropped into my stomach because I knew whatever the message, it was not good. A friend and loyal customer of ours was suddenly killed that humid July morning. As was AJ’s nature, if someone would call for help, rest assured AJ would be there. His neighbor had called him and asked him to help cut a tree. I imagine AJ had cut more trees than I have numbered the years on earth. From what I know everything was going according to plan when suddenly the tree shifted and AJ’s safe place now became a place of tragic ending. He was struck in the head and killed instantly.
Years ago, AJ came by the dealership for nothing more than to say hello and have a cup of coffee. Without saying a word, one of my managers reached in his desk drawer and pulled out a blue velvet box about the size of a man’s hand (not Shaq’s) and handed it to AJ. I now believe the saying that “we are all young at heart,” because at that instant he went from a man who had seen nearly 7 decades of living to a 12 year old on Christmas day. His eyes lit up as he pulled out the sterling silver belt buckle engraved with the Dodge Ram’s head on it. Every year the rodeo we sponsor gives us a Silversmith belt buckle. Although nice, the buckle does not mean alot to us city slickers. It meant the world to AJ. In his casket, he laid peacefully- the buckle wrapped around his waist. There were numerous pictures of him wearing that buckle displayed throughout the funeral home’s room. We have heard people say the phrase, “I take it everywhere I go;” AJ did just that. I mean he took pictures from dress clothes, to jeans, to bathrobes- and the buckle was there with AJ, both smiling proudly for the camera. AJ loved life. He always had a smile on his face and a laugh that would turn the most sour person’s day around. He lived a full life, not necessarily by years, but by the love he left behind. He made his mark and then he had to leave.
Death is a jolting reminder of how precious life really is. There were no guarantees that our mothers would carry us full term. There were a myriad of circumstances that would have caused us to not be born, but there is a 100% guarantee that we will die. As a matter of fact, we are dying right now. Fortunes have been made, lost, and made again; we do not have that luxury with time. I think about how many times I have stormed out of the house angry, like a 37 year old child who did not get his way. What if I never came back? If I were to die at that second what would I have given to kiss my family just one last time…just to say goodbye?
Through the eyes of death we see life, and through life we live the possibilities. There are possibilities all around us, but many times we cannot see them because we are too busy focused on the problems around us which probably will not matter 2 years, 2 months, or even 2 minutes from now.
We have the power of choice. What we do with the 86,400 seconds we have today is up to us. We can squander our time wasting it on inconsequential things or we can spend it as a philanthropist, living for not just for ourselves, but more for others-even people we do not even know and hope we get a chance to do it again tomorrow. The time we have can pay dividends or incur losses, depending how we chose to invest it.
When the sands run out of your hour glass the only thing that will have mattered is the mark you left behind on this earth. That mark is called a Legacy….how you leave it is up to you.