And Then, You Die …

In my twisted effort to ensure the on-going well being of my kids, I’ve historically instilled what I consider to be a “healthy” level of neurosis.  So, if they were fooling around in the kitchen, rather than yelling at them, the calm conversation might sound something like, “Stop tilting your chair.  If you don’t, the chair will fall, you’ll bang your head, you’ll develop a blood clot, and then … you’ll die.”  It worked in just about any situation … “Don’t put that in your mouth.  If you do, you’ll accidentally swallow it, then you’ll choke, and then … you’ll die.”  Or, “If you take those surfing lessons, you can get hit on the head with the surfboard, the waves will take you under, and then …” Well, you get the picture … no matter what you did, it ended with “and then you’ll die”.

Fast forward twenty five years (or so!)…

While driving to work earlier last week, I realized that I had forgotten my eye glasses at home.  I was running late (what a surprise!), and was targeted to arrive with two minutes to spare before my candidate arrived to the office for an interview.  With my “over 40 eyes” there was no way I was going to be able to read her resume, so I stopped into a local drug store to “quickly” grab a pair of generic magnifying glasses.  It took all of a minute to grab the first pair I came across and race to the register but as I got there with my one item, a women pulled in front of me with her cart.  She was in her late 70’s, early 80’s … lightly colored hair that was fading, white roots protruding from her scalp, and a “flat” spot from where she slept the previous night.  I then noticed that her cart was filled with what must have been 5 different brands of adult diapers and bed pads.  She took each item out of the cart and placed it on the counter, and with each item she turned to me and expressed her apologies for “taking so long” and thanking me for my patience.  In that moment I realized … that’s me in 30+ years.  That’s  all of us at some stage of our lives.  I’ll be standing at a Rite Aid counter, with my red lipstick and matted hair, buying Depends with coupons, counting the exact change out of my purse, and triple checking the receipt.  In that moment, being late didn’t matter … the candidate didn’t matter … What did matter was providing the woman with the respect and time she deserved in her advanced age.

As if this realization wasn’t enough, later that week my son and I were out to dinner at a diner (yes, breakfast for dinner is still the best!)  As we settled into our booth and moved the menus aside, Corey broke out his IPhone and opened a new app my daughter, Nikki, is working on.  We were under time pressure to beta test the game and provide her with stats as the launch is right around the corner.  As we played round after round, recording each success and each failure, I noticed the table next to us.  There were about 8 men, all in the 70-80 year age range.  Each of them sported a cap, covering their varying degrees of baldness, black thick rimmed glasses, and white sneakers. Each of them had a history … a life … whatever that life was.  Maybe they were married, maybe divorced, or maybe they were eternal bachelors.  Maybe they had kids and/or grand-kids.  Maybe they were Wall Street tycoons under pressure to buy and sell, ensuring millions for their clients, or doctors who slept with their phones next to them so they could save lives in the middle of the night.  Maybe they came from the production line, working multiple shifts just to make ends meet.  Yet, here they all were, at 9:30 on a Saturday night, laughing, sipping chicken noodle soup, and harmlessly “hitting’ on the waitress.  Again, the realization of “that’s me in 20+ years” came over me like a wave.  “I’ll be sitting at a table in the diner, and no one will know where I’ve come from, what I’ve done, whose lives I’ve touched.”  The realization of “we all wind up in the same place at some point …”

Some of us, however, won’t be “lucky” enough slowly waltz through Rite Aid looking for pads or to meet the guys at the diner for a Saturday night out.  We may be sleeping in our bed on a quiet night during the week, when a sink hole opens under our bedroom and the earth swallows us and all our possessions, as happened to the 35 year old man in Tampa earlier in March.

I was talking to my daughter about the lady at Rite Aid, the men at the diner, and the guy in Tampa when she said, “Ma, all I could think of when I heard about the guy in Tampa was ‘Sucks to be you.  I hope you had a good day yesterday.'”  And in that moment I knew what the point of all this was … “I hope you had a good day yesterday.

Whether you’re fortunate enough to slowly waltz through Rite Aid with matted hair, or meet up with the guys for a big Saturday night out at the diner, or not fortunate enough because you’ve gotten swallowed up by a sink hole or hit your head on the floor because you’ were fooling around tipping your chair … make sure you had a good day yesterday. Cherish each moment, show patience for others … it could be you one day.  Don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day stress that you don’t have time to kiss your spouse, hug your kid, connect with a friend, or take a minute to appreciate some aspect of your life because you may not have tomorrow.  And, make sure “you had a good day yesterday” … every day.

And that’s my two cents … for whatever it’s worth.