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April 29, 2022

I Can't Wait

This past weekend, I entertained my grandson outside in the warm afternoon sun. We played in a small pool enjoying the simplicity of life. As I sat there, sipping a warming beer, watching him splash around like a future Olympic swimmer, it occurred to me that there was a time when I said to myself and others, “I can’t wait to be a grandfather.” Now I am a grandfather with five grandchildren and the sixth one coming soon.

 

Then I thought; what’s next?

I can’t wait to retire.

I can’t wait to get social security.

I can’t wait to have great grandchildren.

I can’t wait to die.

 

When I was young, people told me, I was not old enough to do this or that or go here or there, so I had to wait. As I grew older, I remember saying to myself, “I can’t wait to go to high school; I can’t wait to be able to come home late; I can’t wait to learn how to drive; I can’t wait to be able to legally drink beer; I can’t wait to go to my senior prom.”  

 

I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school and go to college. I couldn’t wait to party with other college students. As Air Force Academy cadets, we couldn’t wait to go to our first assignment, and once there we couldn’t wait for our next assignment or our first promotion. I couldn’t wait to get married and have children. I couldn’t wait to buy my first house or brand-new car. I couldn’t wait to turn 30 because that was the magical age where you could self-evaluate. A lot of the things I couldn’t wait for, I should have waited for.

 

We’re all in such a hurry. No one wants to wait. Events that should have special meaning and in some cases be singular in our lives now occur multiple times because we can’t wait. Graduation from high school or going to the senior prom should be something we wait for. Instead, we “graduate” kids from pre-school to kindergarten, and proms start in middle school, making the senior prom just another high school dance.

 

The game of “I can’t wait” continues.

I can’t wait until all my children leave my house.

I can’t wait until my children get married.

I can’t wait until my children have children.

I can’t wait until I can stop working.

I can’t wait…

 

Then I realized that if you raised your children right, once they leave, they aren’t coming back, except to visit. Once they get married, they take on more responsibilities that keep them from coming to see us as often as we’d like. Once they start having children their lives change significantly. Once I stop working, I’ll still need a reason to get up each morning.

 

I can’t wait…

But now I can wait and want to wait, because I am changing and those around me are changing.

This is my unique way of saying I’m getting old. The things I can’t wait for seem to change.

I can’t wait for one last visit with my mom, knowing she is going to pass away soon. I can’t wait to continue to make memories with my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. I can’t wait to wake up early everyday trying to catch up in areas of opportunity I disregarded in my youth. Disregarded, because I was moving on to the next thing I couldn’t wait for, never really enjoying the present, always looking forward to and planning for a sort of empty future filled with things and events I couldn’t wait for. I understand now, most of those events were coming no matter what.

 

One major unavoidable life event is coming. No one at this moment “can’t wait” for it. We also know we can’t stop it.  

Now I make a greater effort to spend time with family and friends; or at least I try. I bemoan the fact that time is moving too fast, and I’m being propelled into the final quadrant of my life.

This is the time when I shouldn’t wait to forgive people who hurt me. I shouldn’t wait to tell a loved one that I love them. I shouldn’t wait to make that phone call to a friend or family member.

Sadly, I’ll look at these moments and say, “That can wait.”

 

Ever year our grandchildren get older reminds me of how much closer I am to my own major life event.  We wish time would slow down, and as we watch our grandchildren grow up before our eyes, it is a reminder that we are growing older in front of their eyes.

This is not to sound morbid, it’s just fact. We are born and then we can’t wait to get older. Once we are older, we want time to slow down because the next thing coming, won’t be stopped.

 

So, we play with our grandchildren whenever we can. We rarely use electronics to entertain them because we want them to remember and connect to us. From time to time, we just look at them as they play or sleep or interact with others and hope they will understand there is nothing wrong with waiting. We pay a different kind of attention to my adult children as we watch them grow and develop their lives with their family and friends.

I am working hard to make lasting memories with my wife. Again, not to sound morbid, but the truth is men tend to leave this earth first. If that happens with us, I want her to remember me as the man who loved her unconditionally and with all I had to give.

 

Life’s clock will continue to tick no matter how fast or slow you approach life. It seems to me that an approach bathed in patience and enjoyment of each moment is the key to a happy life. One day your clock will stop ticking.  If you are “washed in the blood” and “saved by grace” a new clock will start ticking for you in a new place for eternity. The goal while on this earth, should be to make pleasant memories with the people who love you.  The goal is to enjoy this wonderful gift of life we have all been given. The idea is to wait…

 

I can’t wait to post this, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.