We need to catch up, sound familiar? It’s a phrase we all probably know well. The other day at work I ran into a colleague and as we exchanged some quick pleasant words, he said to me, “we need to catch up”. I nodded, smiled and responded, “we do”. As I started to walk away, I couldn’t help but to feel some kind of way, bothered… sad, odd, right? Once I got back to my office, it hit me- Grandaddy. I know you are probably thinking, who, what, huh? Grandaddy! When my colleague said we need to catch up the sadness I felt was that of missing my Grandaddy. Let me explain.
I probably use this phrase once a week in speaking with people in passing either live or via text and I believe that means eventually we’ll catch up, at least, I hope. On this particular day when I heard the phrase and felt covered in sadness, it was my grandfather, whom I affectionately called Grandaddy, who came to mind. I am writing you all a few days before Thanksgiving. You see- the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2014 (4 years ago)- my Grandfather called to share that he had stage 4 cancer. But let me tell you why I remember the weekend.
In 2014 we lived in Columbus, Ohio and had this tradition of driving to IN (Hammond) every Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with my in-laws, from there, every Friday or Saturday we made a point to spend a day in South Bend, IN an hour east to visit my family. We’d typically go hang out with my dad and then spend some time at my Grandaddy’s before making the road trip back to Ohio. This particular trip- I was for some odd reason ready to get back home. We stopped in South Bend at daddy’s house- wound up visiting with him a little longer than expected and as the sun was starting to go down- I was anxious to start that 5-hour drive home, knowing that if we stopped at Grandaddy’s we’d likely end up staying the night. I loved visiting with my Grandaddy, please make no mistake about that, but for that same reason- it would never be a quick trip. He loved to entertain, and I loved to sit in his kitchen and laugh and talk with him, not mention having our kids take all of that in… but exhaustion was kicking our butts and we were tapping out. I was tapping out.
As we entered the exit towards Ohio, instead of keeping straight the extra 3 miles to his house, I looked at my husband and I said (this is no joke) … “just my luck something crazy will happen and I’ll regret this decision”- he asked if I wanted to turn back and I selfishly said, “nah- we’ll catch up soon”. The very next day, I received a phone call- he was in the hospital. What I didn’t know was that on that Thanksgiving night (the night before) he had start experiencing some stomach pain that had finally gotten him to the point where he succumbed to the pain and went to the hospital that following morning. That feeling I had as we got on the highway that night before was real, it was the holy spirit speaking to me, but I let “we will catch up” make me feel better about my decision. The guilt and emotional pain I felt when I received that call- broke my heart. Of course, from that point on, I made that trip every few weeks to just see him, touch him, smell him- because I understood that there was a time stamp on our time together and we need to catch up quickly changed to- we are staying connected. I never thought I’d ever lose him, I thought he was invincible, I thought there would always be time to catch up- but I learned that the time was now. I made the trip and not just that, I made the phone call… every other day, if not daily. A little over year later he loss his battle to cancer. Here it is almost three years from the time he passed, and I cannot help but to think about that selfish decision on that Friday night in 2014. It was selfish, you can judge me- I judge myself. I share this story because as I had the quick exchange with my colleague who I see in passing, weekly, but it’s been months since he and I have had a good sit down- I couldn’t help to wonder, when will “we need to catch up” really happen. Will we catch up before 2018 is over- will we make it a point to OR will we let conference calls, deadlines, PTO or other selfish disruptions keep us from finding a few minutes to just catch up. We all do this, we then laugh it off… I am forever guilty.
A friend of mine shared with me the other day her plans for Thanksgiving and that she and her entire family (parent, sibling, nieces...) will be traveling to see family together and how there will be a ton of people staying at her aunt’s house… my heart was overjoyed with excitement for her and her family. Too often we say (especially in families) we need to connect, get together on happier occasions and then we end up at the next funeral saying the same thing. If I have learned one thing- it is that tomorrow is not promised and every moment loss to catch up- is truly an unfortunate missed opportunity. So, friends I say to you, make the call, make the stop, send the e-mail because every moment counts and no matter how hard you try to make up for it later, you cannot. No regrets- turn we need to catch up to- we are catching up. If I could get that Thanksgiving weekend 2014 back- instead of trying to figure out what my Grandaddy could have possibly done to his sweet potato pies to make them taste like heaven (this Thanksgiving), I’d have the recipe because I would have been sitting at the kitchen table with him, eating a slice and saying, “come on Grandaddy what’s the secret to this pie” and with such pride and smiling through his pain, he’d break it down for me.