Please Do Not Wait To Tell Your Loved Ones What They Mean to You

We grandparents are at the age when it is getting harder to say we are young. When age 80 is closer than I want to admit, although I work at looking younger and perceive otherwise, others will not see me as young as I would like to see myself. Who is that face in the mirror looking back at me?

We grandparents are at the age when funerals abound. PopPop and I have been to two in the last few weeks.

This blog post is not intended to be morbid, or a downer for the New Year 2023, but to share some thoughts on why all of us, at any age, should not wait to tell our loved ones what they mean to us. We should share with our children and grandchildren the importance to live each day to the fullest and to be grateful for youth and good health and loved ones with us.  We have heard many times that life is a journey and the end is always the same  . . .BUT WE SHOULD ADD. . . and comes too soon and many times without warning.

My Mother used to say “if you have your health you have everything.“  At our grandparent ages good health and many more years are not guaranteed.

The most recent funeral was someone we have known for over four decades. She had a cough that became persistent. The results of an x-ray revealed lung cancer. A treatable cancer. A series of unanticipated health issues ensued, pneumonia, an infection, and death in five weeks, that she and no one close to her even contemplated and were prepared for.

The eulogies at her funeral were heartfelt and beautiful that the family and friends fortunately had time, albeit short, to share with their loved one how much she meant to them and how much they loved her.

My mother similarly died six weeks after a diagnosis of a rare deadly cancer, an insulinoma, a type of pancreatic cancer. At M.D,Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas, they told her she had weeks to live and was the only person alive with this disease they had seen. Of course, my mother was a Holocaust survivor and would survive as long as possible of anything after surviving five concentration camps, as a partisan fighter, and as the only survivor of her village. See blog post, “Our Holocaust Family History, Part II. My Mother, Holocaust Survivor.”

After the doctor told my mother there was nothing they could do for her and that she had just weeks to live, the doctor asked her to allow them to take blood and tissues to study, to help others survive. Through her tears, she said yes.  Survival of others, that was not available to her, was most important to her. 

My brother and me taking my mother home to die was one of the most difficult periods of our lives. I was fortunate to have time to tell her how much I loved her, was grateful to be her daughter, and that she was the strongest woman I have ever known.

We also had time to say goodbye, albeit short. 

I recently spoke with a friend who lost her seventy two year old husband while on a vacation, without warning. Taking pictures before a beautiful waterfall, he had a heart attack.  She was alone, in a strange location, and did not have an opportunity to say goodbye.

Please do not think death is only the ending of life for those with a long life. Recently, we  have also seen the death of a forty five year old son of a friend from a heart attack, again without warning.

When my favorite aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma, I immediately began a letter of all that she meant to me, of our experiences and times together, and how much I loved her.  I did not wait until she died.  I wanted to be able to compose my thoughts while emotions, though high, were not overwhelming.  I gave her the letter as soon as it was finished.  My uncle told me she read it every day and carried it with her always.  He said it gave her strength and helped give her peace.  I was able to repeat the words of love at her death bed, but knew that I shared what was in my heart completely earlier when I was better able.

Yes, we can show our love and gratitude to those important to us and do this often, even in short spurts, after life passage events, family gatherings, and experiences with a loved one.  We can share with our children and grandchildren that is one thing that thank you notes, or “just because” notes are for.  In this modern age, it can even be a periodic voicemail message or a video or voice text.

We always hear to live each day as if it were your last.  Please add to that to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you each day that you are able.  Add “I love you” to the end of every oral and written conversation.  There may not be a tomorrow to do so.

Please do not wait to tell your loved ones what they mean to you.  Maybe this is a good resolution for the New Year 2023.



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