🎋Cherishing The Little Things🎋

Enjoy Little Things. Hand lettering grunge card with flower background. Handcrafted doodle letters in retro style. Hand-drawn vintage vector typography illustration

🔱I have been guilty of ignoring “the little things” in life. That does not include, of course, children and pets. I have not prepared a meal since July 1996. That is when my wife started preparing my meals and since then she has only allowed me in the kitchen to dry dishes. Did I mention she watches me closely when that happens? It’s her kitchen, and she is in charge. I’m only there to help, not to make any decisions. Fortunately, for her, she has only had to prepare two meals in the last three years. That’s when we moved into our retirement community, and we eat our dinner in their dining room. It took her a while to get used to not cooking, but she’s fine with it now. I tried to always thank her for the meals she prepared, but I failed to realize how much it freed me to do other things. Often, I would be in the den practicing guitar as she cooked our dinner, so not only did she have to perform the chore of cooking our meal, but she also had to endure the twanging of the guitar as I attempted to get better. I still practice guitar, not as often, and not as good as before.

 It doesn’t take much effort to be appreciative, but you have to be aware of the moment before that happens.

My daughter calls me several times each week and I’m guilty of taking those phone calls for granted. I often fail to realize that it’s her effort to stay in touch with me. Somewhere in her mind is the embedded thought that at my age (83), I could “kick the bucket” anytime and without warning. Many years ago, “kicking the bucket (down the road)” meant delaying a chore, putting it off until another time. Now, to me, that phrase means something else entirely 😊. I keep begrudging the fact that my daughter doesn’t come to visit me enough, not recognizing that her weekly calls are her effort to stay in touch.

I think I failed to appreciate “the little things” until we moved into our retirement community, where the average age is 82. Whenever I help anyone with a chore, no matter how small, or how little the effort, that person always genuinely expresses their thankfulness for my help. We’ve all helped people who give the perfunctory “thank you.” Here, in the retirement community, it is always heart-felt and genuine. I wish I had been that way all my life. The good news is that it is never too late to start, and that’s exactly my plan. A brand-new day brings a brand-new light. I believe Rumi (13th century Persian poet) has it right when he says, “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”

🔱 My parents never said they loved me. My brother and I grew up without our parents ever uttering the simple phrase, “I love you!” That does not mean they didn’t love us, only that they never said it out loud. Being raised in the 1940s and 50s, I can’t recall any of our friends being told that by their parents either. I remember us eating Sunday dinners at my paternal grandparent’s home about five miles up the “holler” from the coal camp we called home in southwest Virginia. They had six children and 17 grandchildren, so there were a lot of us grandkids there playing in their front yard. All the women were in the kitchen cooking, while the men gathered in the yard to discuss coal mining. When the time came for dinner, all the grandkids sat at the small table together, while the adults sat at the big table. My brother and I grew up thinking we were mostly in the way, so we made every effort to stay away from the adults. That changed when I turned sixteen. My mother, not my dad, started asking my opinion about things. I joined the US Air Force after graduating from high school and never again lived at home with my parents. I always knew they loved my brother and me, but I regret it was never said out loud, not by my parents, grandparents, nor aunts and uncles. Consequently, I never told my two children that I loved them, echoing my parents. I tried to show them with my actions speaking, not my words.

My son and I started saying it to each other before he passed away in 2018, and my daughter and I say it often during our phone conversations. My wife’s side of the family says “I love you” freely. I only wish I had started it when I was a young father. Now, I’m inspired to express love more freely, to cherish the connections that time has woven around me.

Drew Lichtenberg (playwright) says it eloquently, “The scariest thing that you can do in life, when you’re staring down the end of your life, is to ask if you are truly loved.” We all want to believe we are.

🔱 My wife and I recently visited some of my high school classmates from the class of 1959. My friend, Elsie Dee, tells us she no longer has a “Bucket List.” She has started enjoying the moment, whatever and wherever that may be. She still has things she wants to do, but it’s not big enough to be included in that proverbial “List.” I’m with her. I no longer need a bucket to hold my list. The things I want to do will not qualify for that status. Mostly, my goals are to visit family and friends as long as we’re able to travel and I’m capable of driving. I just recently passed our state’s eye test for renewing my driver’s license, so I’m good for another five years. Maybe, by the time I need help driving, autonomous (self-driving) vehicles will be perfected, and all that’s needed is for me to sit in the front seat and tell the vehicle where I want to go 😊. The one thing older adults dread losing is their driver’s license. When that happens, independence is gone. From that point on, someone has to take you wherever you want to go.

I remember buying my first automobile, a green 1950 Plymouth ($250) in March 1960. It had a hole in the floorboard, and I could see the road underneath my feet as I drove it home. Before long, I had patched the hole, installed four new tires, and had it painted. That car spelled freedom for me and my young wife, who was pregnant with our son. I can still recall the details of every vehicle I’ve owned in my lifetime… as if that’s important 😊.

The one thing I will never do is drive any vehicle when it puts my wife in danger. Every trip I take, I ask God to keep me alert, help me make good decisions and keep my wife safe. Using that as a barometer for when I should stop driving will tell me exactly when that should happen. I wish all big decisions in life had such a simple solution 😊. Maybe they do, and I’ve just been ignoring them, overthinking things that aren’t that complicated.  Winston Churchill says, “The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.” I believe that to be true.


  1. JoAnn Hale on March 12, 2024 at 5:47 pm

    Love this Dad, and we sure love you!

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