How Much Time Can We Spare?

Uncle Barry and I out for a delicious breakfast of lemon ricotta pancakes.

It is so easy to get caught up in our own stuff, while others around us are in need. If we can’t make time for others during this pandemic, there is no hope for us to do so. We have had more time this past year than at “normal” times, and if we could not carve out some time for those in need, we will never be able to do so when we return to our (new) normal. 

A wonderful book with stories and recipes that nourish the spirit and the body.

The “need” may simply be for us to reach out and make a connection to others who are alone, and lonely. I realize that some of us can’t be with others physically yet, but there are other ways that we can do for others. How about a periodic phone call? As I write this, I am immediately feeling guilty that I have not done that with a couple of elders, although I have served others in that way, and in other ways. But I could have done more. We could send cards and write a short note to brighten the days of those who live alone.

Our first grandchild, Mary Grace, will be 16 years old on Friday. Where did the years go?
Mary Grace on a recent visit to Raleigh.

I am reminded of my friend, Judy, and a lesson she taught me many years ago that is ever present with me to this day. It was when my mother was basically homebound, and I made the three-hour trip to visit her about once a month. I have never liked take-out food. Mother would not go out to eat and did not cook, and I did not cook and take food to her when I visited. I would get her whatever she wanted to eat, and take it to her apartment, then I would go out to a restaurant and eat my meal there. (I am sad even thinking about this, and guilty. What was I thinking?!)

My wise friend, Judy and me, a few years ago at her surprise birthday celebration.

Once when Judy visited mother with me, I suggested that we pick up something for mother to eat and then go out to a restaurant and have a nice meal. My wise friend Judy said, “Let’s get something and bring it back and eat here with your mom. She will enjoy our company so much more that way.” We did, she did, and I learned a valuable lesson. It wasn’t about the food; it was about the time spent with her.

Uncle Barry and Mike at the kitchen bar where we spend not just our meals but our days!

I can’t undo what I did, or didn’t do, with my mother, but I am taking that lesson and applying it to my time spent with my 90-year-old uncle, Uncle Barry. I take food when I visit him, cook for him, and eat with him at his kitchen bar in front of the TV. That is his style, and it does not matter that it isn’t mine. Our time together is to be together. And it isn’t really about the food at all. I am blessed more by being with him than I could ever be by what I do for him. I am not really trying to “make up” for what I did not do for my mother, but I feel less guilty knowing that I indeed learned a valuable lesson that I am able to pay forward.

What the world needs now.

Time is our most valuable resource. Once gone, it cannot be recovered. We should spend at least some of the time we have doing for others. Not because we hope that someone will be there for us when we need them.

Just because.

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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