With the Holidays just around the corner, a tradition of mine and many other people is to take time out to reflect on the past year and to not only practice gratitude, but to learn whatever lesson may have presented itself during the past 12 months.
This year I noticed something a little different in that it has taken me almost three years to understand how grateful I am about a moment in time on February 28, 2017. My daughter Lauren and I were in the midst of preparing for a trip abroad to visit my niece Alyssa and her boyfriend (now fiancé) Matt, and there were a million and one things to get done before our March 2 departure. Being the publisher of The Journal meant I had to make sure everything was in place before leaving, meaning one task was to remind my Dad Joe that he may be contacted by the staff should an emergency arise at work during my absence. He had been the former publisher for many years and would therefore know what to do.
So on that last day in February, I gave Dad a call and after a brief discussion about work matters, I asked how he was doing since the doctors had taken him out of a specialized new treatment protocol for liver cancer patients. True to form, my father was upbeat and said he was feeling optimistic. He was uncharacteristically chatty that day, and so was I. While we normally kept our phone calls to 30 seconds, a minute tops, that day we kept the conversation going, and our topic surrounded family matters. We mostly laughed over certain things, and felt encouraged by how fortunate we all were to have each other, but he always circled back to how much he loved my mother, I could picture him shaking his head as her repeated that sentence. He then brought up how his diagnosis a year and a half earlier had seen unexpected benefits, such as the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with my mother Mary, reviewing moments in their 55 precious years of marriage. Feeling uncomfortable with him broaching the topic of his condition, I scoffed and said, “Dad, you have plenty of time, everyone loves you so much, you’re super human and you’re indestructible!”
Unbelievably to me, he succumbed to his cancer the next night. At the time, I genuinely believed that my Dad would be around for another couple of years, so this phone call was a casual one for me, but he must have known different. In that delicate moment, I couldn’t conceive of my good fortune to have had that last timely conversation with him.
I don’t know what propelled me to go through my phone the next day and take a screenshot of that phone call placed the day before not ever really understanding it would serve as a memento of that conversation.
Cherish the time with your loved ones this holiday season.