When I was superintendent of schools in Palo Alto, California, Polly Tyner, the president of our board of trustees, wrote a letter that was printed in the Palo Alto Times. Polly’s son, Jim, had great difficulty in school. He was classified as educationally handicapped and required a great deal of patience on the part of his parents and teachers. But Jim was a happy kid with a great smile that lit up the room. His parents acknowledged his academic difficulties but always tried to help him see his strengths so that he could walk with pride. Shortly after Jim finished high school, he was killed in a motorcycle accident. After his death, his mother submitted this letter to the newspaper.
Today we buried our 20-year-old son. He was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on Friday night. How I wish I had known when I talked to him last that it would be the last time. If I had only known I would have said, “Jim, I love you, and I’m so very proud of you.”
I would have taken the time to count the many blessings he brought to the lives of the many who loved him. I would have taken time to appreciate his beautiful smile, the sound of his laughter, his genuine love of people.
When you put all the good attributes on the scale, and you try to balance all the irritating traits such as the radio which was always too loud, the haircut that wasn’t to our liking, the dirty socks under the bed, etc., the irritations don’t amount to much.
I won’t get another chance to tell my son all I would have wanted him to hear, but, other parents, you do have a chance. Tell your young people what you would want them to hear if you knew it would be your last conversation. The last time I talked to Jim was the day he died. He called me to say, “Hi, Mom! I just called to say I love you. Got to go to work. Bye.” He gave me something to treasure forever.
If there is any purpose at all to Jim’s death, maybe it is to make others appreciate more of life and to have people, especially families, take the time to let each other know just how much we care.
You may never have another chance. Do it today!
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