Editorials by Robert Kirwan

Death Is Not The Enemy of Life, But It’s Friend…  

   When my Father-in-law, Ignace Starcevic, passed away in 1982, my wife asked me to come up with something nice to have engraved on his tombstone.  I was only 32 at the time and we were in the process of raising three young sons, aged 3, 5 and 7.  It was a hectic time of our lives and we were typical parents – running ourselves ragged as we encountered all of the normal experiences and challenges faced by all other young parents.
   Last fall, when my Mother-in-law, Helen Starcevic, died, we found ourselves in a completely different set of circumstances. The other day, as I was making arrangements with Ellero to have the tombstone engraved with the date of her death, I took a long look at the inscription I had selected 24 years ago and it seemed as if time had stood still. I paused to ask myself where those 24 years had gone, and moreover, what had changed in my life?
   My wife and I are still living a hectic life; probably more hectic and busy than we’ve ever been. True; our once young sons are now 27, 29 and 31, each with lives of their own to live. My oldest is almost the same age as I was at the time of the death of his grandfather. As I look at him and his wife, I see myself 24 years ago. They are typical parents – running themselves ragged as they encounter the change of life that comes from having two young daughters, one aged 3 months and the other turning 2 years old this summer. I remember when I was my son’s age and remembered how I thought of myself as young, energetic and still with a full life ahead of me. I could handle the world and anything that came along. I was invincible, and yet I was also a bit frightened about what the future would hold.
   I recall that when choosing the inscription for my Father-in-law’s tombstone, even back then it struck me as a very profound statement. And yet, with the passing of time I realize that I am only now beginning to appreciate and understand the significance of its meaning. As a 32 year old, it was impossible to fully comprehend its message.
      My wife and I look at our situation today and other than the fact that we have aged a bit, nothing much has changed. Our life is still hectic. We spend every possible moment we can with our two granddaughters. It seems as if we are always going somewhere or doing something, and we seldom have time to simply put up our feet and rest. And yet, even though I am just as “busy” as ever and still trying to “get it all in”, I feel much more relaxed than I was 24 years ago. I think it is because for the past 24 years I was simply  “accumulating” experiences in an effort to define who I was and while I was doing that I was too focused on the responsibilities of being a husband and father to take time to appreciate those experiences.
   Now, while I think I am in many ways doing much more with my life than I ever have, I don’t feel as rushed or pressured. When my granddaughter wants me to sit down with her to read a book, I stop what I am doing and get down on the floor with her. All of a sudden, deadlines, dinner, cutting the grass, and appointments don’t seem quite as important as they once were. And yet, when I eat dinner, cut the grass, meet with people, write these editorials – indeed, when I do anything now, I enjoy the experience much more than ever before. I have discovered that “taking time to smell the roses” doesn’t mean that you have to “slow down” or “miss out on anything”, it just means that you have learned that you can actually “enjoy what you are doing” and still get the most out of your many experiences.
   The biggest difference from 24 years ago – I know that my years are limited. I know that I am not invincible. And I do feel that each and every day is a wonderful, precious gift. If only I had realized that 24 years ago.  



Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved
Valley East Today is published by
Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc.