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What Blocks You from Living Full and Regret-Free

“Should we tell them what the meat is?” she asked me and I could hear the smile in her voice over the phone.

“No, let’s wait until later in the meal,” I decided. “They’ll be more open to it.”

The next day we scavenged chairs from all corners of my house and seated seven of us around the scratched cherry wood kitchen table. We prayed, then took turns scooping steaming rice onto our plates. Mom reached for our dishes and carefully ladled a savory meat sauce over the rice, pressing her spoon lower into the pot for more gravy. Garlic and herbs slow-cooked the meat into fall-off-the-bone tenderness, and we asked for seconds, extracting occasional tiny bones from our food.

“It’s good!” my husband and kids agreed. “What is it?” Knowing my family, they were open to any news.

“Squirrel. Dad has five of them in the freezer,” Mom said, and my family nodded their heads in little surprise.

“Those squirrels stole almost every apple off my tree,” Dad said. “I’m down to just one apple left.  I’ve killed seven squirrels so far,” he said, adjusting to a more comfortable position in the chair and smoothing out his napkin.

 I saw my parents again this weekend, my mom cutting my dad’s hair. Him with a towel around his shoulders, silvery hair combed straight above his ears and my mom leaning in.

“Don’t move,” she warned, stretching the blades wide.

I leaned back against their cushioned kitchen chairs, watching them. Outside curved glass windows, my parents’ backyard was a haven of landscaped flowers, ferns, and birds at the feeder. An occasional squirrel raced across the fence near the apple tree bobbing in the breeze, its lone apple bundled in a guarded plastic bag.

Finished with Dad’s haircut, Mom wiped up slivers of glinting hair from the table and carefully folded the towel off Dad’s shoulders, trapping loose hairs inside.

“Let’s eat that apple now!” she decided suddenly. “Let’s not wait until frost. Dad should eat his apple now…” she trailed off, and we finished the sentence in our minds.

I swallowed back misting tears and grabbed my video camera.

“…This is the first apple from our tree,” my mom stated, giving the date and more information. My video-record light blinked red until she ended, and the wind blew sun-tossed leaves across the yard. Autumn’s reds and yellows rained on us, then danced across the lawn. 

And I know you have this too… moments that need to be captured and savored, moments that need to be frozen in time. Because whether you have parents who are ill, kindergartners stepping freshly off the yellow bus each day, or taller loved ones walking into the front entryway each night with their briefcases, purses, or heavy backpacks, we all have moments that are slipping away. 

And our challenge? Our mission is to embrace them, to see them, and to fully step in. Step away from whatever you’re working on and look deeply into the eyes of the ones you’re with. See them, lean in to inhale their scent, and hug them tightly. Fully present in each moment, I want to look up from facebook, put aside my To Do list, and forget the busy. I want to savor and seize each moment.

Is there anyone you need to call? Any conversations you need to have? Someone you need to pause and truly see? Because the truth is, we all have the same moments, the same chances, the same twenty-four hours. And I don’t want any regrets.

Say what needs to be said, my friends. Stop and savor life, and the ones around you. Live life fully, deeply, and in the splendored colors of fall. Don’t wait.

Crimson and yellow climb up the trees around me, ricocheting off the blue sky. September’s heat burns brilliantly, while autumn slips in quiet.

7 Comments

  1. Alecia Simersky on September 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Beautiful, Jennifer.
    In our rush about world, we always need this reminder to slow down and make people a priority.

    Did you really eat squirrel? And it was good? 🙂

  2. Bill (cycleguy) on September 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    one of my greatest desires is to enjoy and savor life to its fullest. Love this post Jennifer.

  3. Dolly@Soulstops on September 24, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Jennifer,
    Enjoyed how you savored the moment with your parents and family…in a meal and in a photo….my mom cuts my dad's hair,too…funny, huh?

  4. Jayne on September 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Life does go by more quickly than we realize. Each and every moment needs to be savored for what it is.

  5. Brian Miller on September 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    savor is such a col word….we can get caught up in capturing moments we miss them…but we should celebrate them…we should celebrate more things….bet that was a great apple….smiles

  6. Cheryl Barker on September 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    What a poignant post, Jennifer. My heart aches for what your family is going through right now. I'm sure your parents appreciate your presence so very much now. I will keep your family in my prayers. And by the way, I've had squirrel before, too, thanks to my dad 🙂

  7. Ceil on September 29, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Hi Jennifer! You are so right that moments of treasure are just waiting for all of us if we just reach out for them. I am so glad that you could sit and enjoy those moments with your parents, and I know you do with your own family too.

    Squirrel? Hmm…might have to take a pass…
    Ceil

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