What is the hardest thing for you to give up on a daily basis?
For me, it’s my time. Since I’m a planner, it’s a continual challenge to release time to spend with people and get involved with things outside my agenda. In the past, I gave more priority to my projects than to people.
However, in recent years God showed me the importance of letting go of my neatly-arranged plan sometimes so I can enjoy opportunities to spend time with others. Even when it’s only a slice of time, the beauty and the memories that fill my life make it worth it. Time with people is more often at the top of my list now.
This life-changing lesson from God produced a willingness and a desire to build a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Uncle Miles. When my Aunt Elia passed away, his life changed drastically. Mine did, too. Her death was one of many cascading illnesses and death among my family within a short period of time. In my sorrow, I cried out to God, “Father, please don’t take Uncle Miles yet. I can’t say goodbye to anyone else right now. Please let me have more time with him.”
God gave me six years. Those were the most memorable years in our relationship, because Uncle Miles and I became close friends, not just family. Our friendship filled the empty places in both of our lives. We began calling each other every weak—he from the west coast and I from the east side of the country. We discussed family memories and happenings, but he always wanted to know about me. And I asked about the highlights and downsides of his life at the retirement center.
It didn’t matter that he was in his 90’s. He stayed engaged in my life. Each year in the fall, I traveled to Oregon for two weeks to see family and friends. I made time to visit Uncle Miles often, talk on the phone in between visits, and enjoy some meals together. We also started a tradition of taking a day trip together, usually drinking in the beauty of the Colombia River gorge and enjoying the majesty of Mt. Hood up close. Though hindered by macular degeneration, he remained in charge, cautioning me and making sure I didn’t miss any turns.
One year, after delivering him back to the center following our trip, we sat in his apartment and talked some more. Words full of encouragement and mutual admiration and affirmation flowed between us.
Finally, we stood and hugged each other good-bye. “Honey, thanks for spending time with me. Really enjoyed your visit and especially our trip today.”
Knowing that I was leaving the next day, we looked into each other’s eyes with love. I believe he knew he would never see me again. I was unaware. Perhaps that’s why God prompted me to say, “Uncle Miles, I’ll see you next time . . . but if not, I’ll see you in heaven.”
Uncle Miles died less than three months later, not from an illness, but unexpectedly one early morning at the age of 97. It’s been three years, and I still cry about his absence at times. Yet, I have no regrets because God showed me how to give up my time more freely—even small slices of time—so I wouldn’t miss the chance to build memories with my uncle that I’ll cherish forever.
What memories have you been able to build with a special person because you adjusted your plan and spent more time with them?