July 2nd, 2023 | Issue #75
1 Quote. 1 Reflection. 1 Question.
"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country."
-From: George Washington
While trying to calm anxious Continental Army officers frustrated with Congress near the end of the American War of Independence, Washington revealed to the assembled officers, for the first time, that he had begun wearing glasses. In my opinion, this line was murmured by him as a gesture to show the people how long he had served his country and to show his own mortality.
When we hear news of a loved one passing or discover a friend passed away unexpectedly, we zoom out of our personal microscopes. We realize our "problems" aren't really problems and we tend to feel guilty about not spending enough time with that loved one or not reaching out to that friend.
Last week my grandfather passed away and it was the first "big" death my family experienced. Luckily, I was able to fly back to Chicago from Poland to see him one last time. I walked into the house on a Thursday night and immediately went to his bedside. I locked hands with him and his eyes lit up like I'd never seen before. I didn't care about the 1,200 dollars I spent to fly home or the 10-hour plane ride. All that mattered was that he knew I was there for him.
The next day he really began to decline and basically stopped speaking. If I was a day later, I really don't think he would have been able to acknowledge my presence. A few days went by and my Dad came into the room and said "I think he's gone."
And that was it. He was physically gone from this earth and I was in the other room as he took his last breath.
My grandfather never made a statement like George Washington, he didn't need to. He walked with a walker, wore glasses regularly, and in the last year you can tell his health was declining quickly.
I handled the death of my grandfather well, I even helped my brother write the eulogy and helped carry the casket. This isn't to brag but I want to share why I think I handled the first "big" death in my family pretty well. Don't get me wrong, it was hard, tears were shed, and self-blame crept in, but in the end, I didn't break, I just bent.
Why didn't I break? Well, because I noticed his "spectacles" early on and mentally prepared for his death a very long time ago. But more importantly, I cherished time with him while he was living.
Some people sobbed and cried when Washington pointed out his spectacles because they were too busy to notice his aging and didn't take the time to think about his mortality, they were blind. Blinded by the things happening in their own lives, and the petty battles they were fighting.
Some day you might be like these people. Currently, you might be on autopilot enjoying your youth, forgetting that precious time is being taken away from a loved one of yours. If you continue living like this, you might very well end up feeling guilt, shame, and regret. These are some of life's worst feelings.
However, there is good news. You can turn that ship around starting now. All you need to do is pick up the phone, or even walk into the other room and spend time with your loved one. Tell them the thing you always wanted to, or just sit and relish in their presence.
Don't forget to take time to notice the spectacles in life, because odds are, someone you love is wearing them.
If you had one sentence to share with your dying loved one, what would it be?
ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER
The 1-Step Forward Newsletter is a weekly Sunday newsletter.
Each issue contains 1 Quote, 1 Reflection, and 1 Question each meant to guide you on the next step forward in your life towards improvement.
July 09 (newer)
"But my later experience has taught me two lessons: first, that things are seen plainer after the events have occurred; second, that the most confident critics are generally those who know the least about the matter criticised." -Ulysses S. Grant
June 25 (older)
“How miserably things seem to be arranged in this world. If we have no friends, we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss.”- Abraham Lincoln