When You Know Your Life Will Never Be the Same
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RscP
Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach
As I write this post today, I am reminded that it is an anniversary. We often think of anniversaries as happy events. But not all anniversaries are cause for celebration. In this instance, the anniversary is the 32nd year since my father died in an accident. Since that day in 1986, my life and the lives of members of my immediate and extended family have never been the same.
I still remember like it was yesterday what I was doing when I got the phone call.
I had attended an association meeting that afternoon, and as the secretary, it was my job to type up the minutes. I was sitting at my kitchen table with my portable typewriter.
This was the same portable typewriter my father had bought for me when I went to college. He had gone to a lot of trouble to find that particular typewriter. Electric typewriters were expensive back then. And he was already worried about how he was going to pay for college tuition for two daughters. Money was always tight. But he found the "right" typewriter at the "right" price and presented it to me with great flourish.
On the day of his accident, the phone rang shortly after 5:00 PM. It was my mother.
And from that moment forward, our lives were never the same.
I was 34 years old. I remember reflecting later how lucky I was to be an adult dealing with this sense of loss. How do young children cope with the loss of a parent? I couldn't imagine it then. I still can't.
My mother wad 57 years old. My dad was 63. Ironically, my grandfather--my dad's father--had also died in a farm accident. He had left my grandmother a widow at the age of 57. My mother seemed fixated on that similarity for some time after my dad's accident. It was as though she couldn't believe she was in the same situation that her mother-in-law had been in back in 1954.
My father was a gregarious man, and he had a lot of friends. He had friends from work and friends in the community. People turned out in mass to honor his memory and to support our family during the ensuing days. Most of those days are now a blur.
My birthday was coming up a few weeks later in October. Everyone kept asking me what I wanted for my birthday. The question struck me as more than a little silly. The answer was so obvious to me. What I wanted for my birthday, I could not have. I wanted to go back to September 22nd and have a different outcome. I wanted my father back. I wanted to give him one more hug and to tell him one more time how much I loved him. I wanted to thank him for all he had done for me.
Luckily, I had had a chance to hug him and tell him I loved him the day before his accident.
And sadly, it might not have gone that way. He seemed a little on edge during my regular Sunday visit. He and my mother had been bickering over the job he was going to undertake the next day. This was the very job that led to his accident. It turns out my mother was right to be concerned about his safety. But he was determined to take the job. He saw it as a challenge. And he loved challenges.
At one point, they were both talking to me at once. She was complaining about him being stubborn. He was complaining that she didn't understand why he wanted to do the job.
I stopped my dad and said, "Wait a minute. Let Mom finish, and then I can listen to you." He got a little huffy. He sat there, pouting and scowling until she was through. When I turned to him, he stood up as though to head for his office. I said, "Wait a minute. Where are you going? Now I can hear what you were saying."
"Oh, you don't really care," he said, somewhat peevishly.
"Yes, I do. I just can't listen to both of you at the same time. Come back and tell me what you were saying."
Thankfully, he dropped the attitude, came back, and sat down.
We talked about a job posting he had seen in the paper that he was thinking of investigating. We talked a little about why doing the job that my mother objected to was important to him. And we talked a little about football. We were both big fans of the same team. I knew enough at the time to talk about how "our" team had been doing so far in the season. We wound up having one of our best visits in a long time.
I have often wondered. What if I had not stopped him from going to his office?
The truth is, on another day, I might have let him go. I might not have asked him to come back. I might have shrugged my shoulders at his churlish attitude and moved on.
I can't imagine the guilt I would have felt given the events of the next day.
I learned two valuable lessons from that episode in my life. The first is that life is short and it is fragile. In the blink of an eye, your whole life can change forever. A loved one can be here one moment and gone the next. And we never know when that moment will arrive.
The second lesson is you should never part ways with a loved one without saying "I love you." You never know when it will be your last chance.
My father's unexpected death is part of what drove me to make the decision that I did when I retired from teaching. I remembered the first lesson from when my dad died. Life is short. It is TOO short to spend a single day of it doing something you don't want to do.
Since that day in September of 1986, I have experienced other life-changing events, of course.
There was my wedding day. There was the day I decided that the marriage was over. There was the day I moved out. There was the day my divorce was final.
There were the days like when my two beloved dogs died within eleven days of each other. (Talk about knowing your life will never be the same.) There was the day I decided I couldn't go back to teaching. And there was the day I decided to start my own business.
We each have days in our lives when something so significant occurs that we know our lives will never be the same.
Think about the day you fell in love. Think about the day your first child or grandchild was born. These events are life-changing, too. What lessons have you learned from the life-changing events in your life? How are those lessons playing out in your life right now?
In case you missed my email from last week, here is some news! I am offering a series of live Master Class Presentations this week. I will be speaking on the topic, "How to Jumpstart Your Job Search When You Have No Idea Where to Begin."
To learn more about the presentation, take a look below. If you want 2019 to be the year you go for a new job or career, now is the time to be planning.
Changing your job or career can be a life-changing event that you can prepare yourself for properly. See the dates and times below and learn more by clicking on the registration button below.
September 25th (today) at noon EST.
September 27th at 7:00 PM EST.
September 29th at 4:00 PM EST.
September 30th at 11:00 AM EST.
I hope you will decide to join me.
I hope you will decide to join me.