By the time I write the next article, Christmas will be right around the corner! The older I get, the faster time seems go. And as I age, reality begins to show its ugly head. I don’t know why, but it really appears to. Since my last article, I have lost two very good friends who died way too young; Horace Amason and Vance Macon. They are both sorely missed. We have honored them with articles in this issue. And many of the friends I grew up with, ones that made such an impact on my life, have passed. I know this is all part of life, but that doesn’t make things easier.
I travel most weeks, so I get a chance to meet a lot of new folks on the plane. One of my most unusual encounters was when I met an elderly lady not so long ago. My normal, “Good morning” and “How are you doing?” typically gets a similar response. Not this time. Her first words to me were, “If I happened to be the last person on earth you ever spoke to, what would you say to me?” Now, I’m not normally caught without something to say, but I must admit, this time, I was taken aback. I thought about it for a few minutes, (I was hoping she was an angel or something, although she didn’t look the part; no shining lights around her face – wrinkles yes, light no). About the time I was ready to respond, the stewardess began the safety message. When she got to the part, “if you are seated in a place you feel uncomfortable, we will would gladly move you,” for a brief moment, I thought about ringing the help button overhead. What is an hour sitting by this lady going to be like? She clearly wasn’t going to be reading or listening to music. She wanted, or maybe needed, to talk. I fumbled around and said something like, “This plane is not going to crash is it?” No smile – this lady was serious. Okay, I’m giving it my second best shot – I said, “My life has been a good one. I believe in God. I love my family and they love me. I have a wonderful job working with the best folks on the planet, and I’ve had the opportunity to see a whole bunch of this green earth.” Sixty four years summed up in forty+ words, not bad I thought.
My new friend smiled and said thank you. I was looking for something more like “Wow”- pretty good summation with two minutes to respond. This lady wasn’t into giving out a bunch of compliments. Okay, I thought, I’m all in. She began, almost talking in a whisper, that her son had been killed in a construction accident and she was coming home from his funeral. He had two beautiful young children and an adorable wife. The last time she had spoken to him on the phone was just a simple, “How are the kids, the wife, you doing ok?” Nothing deep, nothing like what she would have said had she only known. Sometimes people make a profound impression and for me, this was one of those times. We continued to talk the duration of the flight about how everything can change in just a moment; in the twinkling of an eye. I’m thankful I met her and that she was open to sharing her story. I share this story to remind everyone just how fragile things really are. Your world can be turned upside down in a matter of seconds. Appreciate who and what you have in your life and tell them. I thought my chance meeting was very insightful and brought to mind the importance of our Safety Journey and Being our Brother’s Keeper. Until next time, keep up the good work, take care, and be safe.