As we enter into this Thanksgiving season and beyond, I encourage each of you to take time to be thankful and appreciative of the people who are in your lives – whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc. In reality, any day could be our last day on this side.
While in the process of writing this article, death, once again, invaded my beloved Red Hill community and unexpectedly took our young, sweet citizen, Mattie Harris. Whenever and wherever you saw Mattie, she sported a beautiful smile and was always the same – entreating all with love and kindness. When tragedy struck my family, Mattie was right there offering consolation; doing whatever was necessary in my mother’s home; staying late several nights to console my sister, while having to work the next day.
I’ve learned that life is too short to murmur, complain, hate and hold grudges. I encourage us to make choices to help someone, love someone, pray for someone, forgive someone, and love the Lord while we have a chance. Embrace that estranged family member. Stop arguing. Let go of the hatred, selfishness and bitterness. Say encouraging words to people. Use your money to benefit mankind. Use your vocation to truly help others. Make a difference in someone’s life regardless of personal differences. Live life every day as if it is your last.
Wherever one goes after death, he can’t come back to make it right with those he may have misused or mistreated. He can’t hug his loved ones or friends again. For those of us left behind, we can’t communicate with that person or say, “Thank you for being a part of my life or you made a difference in my life or I’m sorry.” If we knew when death was coming, I believe we all would do things differently.
Pope Paul VI said, “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”
I remember one week before my nephew, Milton Gambrell, died, he called and invited me to lunch. I was very busy and said to him, “I can’t – let’s go next Friday.” For Milton and me, Friday never came. He was tragically killed in a car accident on Friday, Oct.13. A passage of scripture says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
As a memorial to Milton, my very talented nephew Reggie Wade wrote this awesome poem entitled “For my Cousin who Became my Brother and Best Friend.”
Words can’t begin to show how much you meant to me.
I know God gave me two brothers, I had no idea he gave me three.
Sometimes we’d bump heads and at other times disagree.
But that never got in the way of you showing unconditional love to me.
From being wrongfully judged and misunderstood;
Sometimes you weren’t always well behaved; but you were always good.
In the end that’s all that matters, I know you are number one on God’s chart;
Because man judges our actions; but God judges the heart.
You had talent; and to the world, you didn’t hesitate to share.
You shared with your singing and doing your Mom’s and Aunt Jane’s hair.
As I think about the good times, it numbs the pain of the day you left earth.
I don’t even question God, because I know it was all in His Plan from the very day of your birth.
Now I only can stay here and wait for the day I can see your face again. I dedicate this to my cousin who became my brother and best friend.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful… honorable … compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
What lasting impression will be made on those we leave behind? Will it be something good or negative? Did I hate or did I love? Did I touch someone’s life? Did I treat people right to the best of my ability? Is the world better because I lived? If I die today, how will I be remembered? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president of finance/administration for CREATE Foundation Inc. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.