On a busy morning in April 2008 as I juggled all the endless duties and errands of a stay at home mom, I received a call that stopped my world and changed my life and perspective forever. My father, a young and healthy 76 year-old, who worked out at the gym every day, had passed away. This was difficult, not only because he was my dad, but he was so full of life. Together with my mom, he had a rich social and spiritual life that took them on an outing every single night of the week. My father had developed a cold which turned to pneumonia, went to the ER and was admitted. He was pretty sick, but none of us were overly concerned and thought he would be discharged in a couple of days. However, at one point while a nurse was taking his vitals, he simply rolled his eyes back and was not able to be resuscitated. An autopsy later revealed he died of an aortic aneurism, totally unrelated to the pneumonia. This event was not only the most overwhelmingly painful and difficult moment of my life, but it was a rite of passage. My “daddy”, as I always called him even into adulthood, was a my rock and my protector. Although at that point I was married with kids, he was still my sounding board and the one I could depend on even though he lived 800 miles away. In the twinkling of an eye that protection was gone and although it may sound crazy, it felt as if at that point I was really an adult. Thankfully, my mom is still alive and going strong. She’s an amazing woman who at 83 can run circles around me. That experience drew her and I closer and through the healing we learned to seize the day.
All my life I’ve been a dreamer, a planner, a goal setter. I always had a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan, a bucket list. I always knew where I was headed and I usually got there. I’m also pretty good about learning from the past and moving on, rather than dwelling on mistakes and failures. I’m a hopeless optimistic and can always find something good even in the worst times. Yet, prior to my daddy’s passing, I was never real good about enjoying the moment. As I look back at my life, I have to say that I have been blessed. I’ve had great experiences and great people to share them with, but I’m often so concerned about what I need to do next or reflecting about yesterday, that I don’t truly enjoy today. Even though, it’s been six years, I’m still struggling to enjoy the moment. As a mom, I’m so concerned about college that I’m not treasuring the moments in elementary and middle school. As teachers, we get so concerned about EOGs, EOCs and ACCESS scores that we don't savor the magic of every day. We plan and prepare, even for the unexpected, but how about those moments in between - those teachable moments that are not quantifiable on a standardized test.
While I still have goals and dreams, my number one aspiration right now is to develop the ability to enjoy every second of every day. As a wife, mom and educator, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the planning and scheduling to make sure we meet our goals, that we just don’t sit back and enjoy the ride. Time flies, our students will graduate, our kids will leave home and we will retire. I want to cherish every moment so that when I look back, it’s not all a blur, but rather a beautiful collage of happy times.
I’ll end this with another one of my favorite quotes, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present” (author unknown).