It’s hard to believe that 2018 is here. It seems the wisdom of the older generation really does hold true in relation to time……the older you get, the quicker it passes. Of course we all know that a day is 24 hours for everyone but the perception of time changes when we realize just how valuable it really is.
I don’t usually start my Monday Morning Perspectives with a philosophical rumination, but as this was the first thought that came to my mind this morning, I thought “what the heck, I’ll run with it!” I mean we all live by TIME, why not laugh about it as well.
I can’t really tell you when time began to take on any specific meaning for me, but I can tell you I learned very early on that time meant something different to everyone—or at least to everyone in my house growing up. Long before I had grasped the concept of 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day….well you get the picture, I had come to understand time by watching my three older sisters and my parents.
If my mother announced that we were going somewhere at 2 o’clock I could be certain of three things. One, my sister Debbie would be sitting in the car waiting to go at 10 minutes to 2 (it was years before I figured out she did this to sit in the front seat-we lived by the first come first serve, early bird gets the worm rule). Two, my sister Susie would be jumping in the car at exactly 2 and three, my sister Cindi would walk slowly to the car somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15, which was about 20 beeps of the horn too late. I generally fell somewhere between Debbie and Susie. I knew that I needed to be clear of the direct pathway between the door and the car before Susie made her beeline, yet I knew, too, that I had a personal need to be in place before the horn beeped for the first time. I don’t know why the latter was true, but I do know that there was something about those early horn beeps that caused a temporary “panic” each time I heard that familiar sound. Only in my later years, when necessity intervened, did I accept that there were certain circumstances where the blowing of the horn was uncontrollable, if not “appropriate” for the situation.
But I think I will leave that topic for next Monday Morning!
I think it was my father that taught me the most valuable lesson about time. You see, my father was a people person. He could talk to anyone and everyone, and more often than not did. It could be someone he had known for years or a stranger on the street. It didn’t matter. I remember one time Cindi and I had gone to work with my father. At the end of the day we stopped at a convenience store for drinks. Daddy went in to get them. As he came out the door he was talking to a man I didn’t recognize. They stood there talking for a while, the man pointing in this direction and that direction and my father nodding his head. I thought they must have a lot to catch up on.
After about 10 minutes I said to my sister, “Who is that man?” She said, “I don’t know, he probably never saw him before in his life!” But I continued to watch them talking, about 10 feet from where I was sitting, and I thought, “no, he knows him!” My father’s range of facial expressions and obvious emotions mirrored his companion. I saw the man laugh and my father laugh with him. I saw what I perceived to be sadness in his face and my father’s countenance followed suit. And then it was over. My father smiled at the man, shook his hand, and got in the truck. As we pulled away my father gave his all too familiar wave to his “friend.” He would raise his right hand parallel to his temple and in a salute that was unique to Daddy; he would lift it slowly in the air and turn his hand about at about a 45 degree while giving a nod. As he lowered his hand I asked, “Who was that man?” His answer brought a silent laugh between my sister and I, “I don’t know, I never saw him before in my life!” Then Daddy proceeded to tell us all about the man; where he grew up, where he lived, where he worked, information about his wife and children, people they knew in common and so much more.
My father had a gift. When he spoke to someone he gave them his TIME! All he had at that moment. Not half of his time, where his thoughts wandered to what he needed to do when he got home, or what the weather was going to be like. No, my father understood the value of time in relation to human need more than anyone I had ever known in my life. And he taught me that sometimes time can’t be measured in minutes and seconds, but measured instead in the investment you make in other people.
Every morning after retirement my father made a trip to the little mom and pop convenience store about 5 minutes from our home. It would take anyone else in our family less than 15 minutes to go, make a purchase, and come home. Not daddy. Some days that 15 minute trip amounted to half an hour, some days 45 minutes. The time it took to go to the store was totally dependent on who happened to be there at the same time, stranger or friend.
My husband has come to accept the fact that this part of my father lives within me. Often I set out to make a quick trip to the convenience store located just 5 minutes from our home and return half hour to an hour later, having met some new “friend” and sharing a little bit of life. I never meet a stranger, and when I have it to spare I give my time away freely, never measuring it in minutes or hours but in what I can do to make the world a better place.
Now my mother had her own “definition” of time! For the most part time was measured by the clock, because, let’s face it, this is how the real world calculates time, especially back in those Beaver Cleaver days. On weekdays our family woke by the clock, ate by the clock (5:05 every night), and made a valiant effort to go to bed by the clock. We were always on time wherever we went, even with the 20 horn beeps filtered in.
I tried to recreate this Leave It To Beaver time management system when Dave and I first got married. It didn’t take me long to accept the fact that the military just didn’t care if I wanted to have supper on the table at 5:05. In fact the military didn’t care that I would have liked a specific wake-up time either. Although my goal to emulate my mother’s time management system went out the window early on, I did manage to firmly hold onto her tradition of being on time wherever I went.
What is time anyway? There is no simple definition of time. It means something different to everyone. Most children would tell you that Monday through Friday time goes soooo slow, especially during school hours. But ask them how they perceive time on the weekends and they will tell you just how fast it really moves. To the woman in labor, one hour is a lifetime, yet when they place her new baby in her arms one hour passes so quickly she can hardly believe it. Ask a middle age woman in January if she has time to lose enough weight to get in a hot pink bikini before summer (and look decent in it) and she will say “without a doubt, I’ve got plenty of time!” Ask that same woman in May, who is now resigned to the fact that her hot pink bikini will see another summer packed away and she will tell you that there just wasn’t enough time between January and the opening of the water park to accomplish this task. You get the picture! (And…I will fit into that hot pink bikini this year!)
This past week I learned something else about time. After being pregnant for two years our daughter gave birth to baby number two. Okay, okay, so it wasn’t two years, but it seemed like it was…or three or four even. But no matter, it was when I looked at my granddaughter Maddie kissing her tiny brother’s face that time gained a new meaning for me. That simple kiss transported me back 30 years, to a day in a hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, where my little daughter lovingly kissed her newborn brother’s face. Time, it seems, in partnership with the mind, is the keeper of our memories. For this I am grateful! H.G.Wells may have had a time machine but I don’t, and my memories are the only thing I have to transport me back to these happy occasions.
From the moment of conception until the moment of death we all live by time and what we do with it has everything to do with the quality of our lives. One person’s calculations may be vastly different from another’s. What matters isn’t how you measure time; it’s how you measure your life in relation to it.
Have a most blessed week all! Take advantage of the time you’ve been given and laugh a lot…a super lot!
***This article is dedicated to the newest member of my family:
Theodore (Teddy) Loyd Glass, January 12, 2018, 7:33 am-8lbs. 4 oz. and 22 inches long.
Had time allowed them to meet on this earth, my father, Loyd Tremper, would have been beside himself—and he would probably stop to tell every friend and stranger alike about his new great grandson.