Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Selfish Act of Giving

By and large I have lived a decent life. As I approach seventy years of age (I just turned 68, a couple of years to go) I look back and find that I have one huge regret about the way I have lived. Most simply put, I did not give enough time to my children in their formative years. Instead my holy grail was the making of money and I rationalized my conduct by telling myself that I was being a good father by providing ample financial security to my family. Today I watch how my three sons-in-law serve as fathers to their kids and marvel at the gift of time they give. At dinner time, my grand kids are encouraged to speak and talk about their day or whatever they want to talk about. When I was a kid, the rule at the table was "Children should be seen and not heard." My brother and I ate silently and watched my father read the newspaper day after day for many years. Through the grace and love and patience of my wife, as well as the examples set by my three daughters and their husbands, I have slowly modified my conduct over the years so that I now participate somewhat actively in the lives of my grandchildren. I have attended softball games, baseball games, band concerts, soccer games, fencing matches, Christmas and spring pageants, football games, piano recitals, rowing regattas and tennis matches, not to mention the occasional piano, french horn or golf lesson. What I have learned is that the giving of time brings back to me the even greater gift of joy. What a lesson; I ultimately receive more than I give.

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