Our busy lives...
Thursday, December 1, 2016 6:59 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, about a fortnight ago, fellow Highland County Press columnist Jim Thompson shared a link on social media that caught my attention.
It was a commercial that folks are calling “the most powerful Christmas commercial ever.” It can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6-0kYhqoRo.
The narrative revolves around an elderly man whose family is always too busy to see him during the holidays. The old man sits at the table, alone, he places Christmas cards on the mantle, he listens to the answering machine to hear his daughter, in German, tell him, “I just wanted to call and let you know that we can’t make it for Christmas this year. We’ll try again next year. It’ll work out, I promise. Merry Christmas, Daddy.”
He looks out the window and sees his neighbor getting hugs from his visiting grandchildren. He gets older and older year after year as he eats his Christmas repasts alone.
One day near Christmas, the old man’s children get the bad news. Their father has passed away. Devastated, they pack up and head home for the funeral. Dressed in black, they hug, they cry, they enter the old house and see the dining room table set and the candles lit. A moment later, the old man enters the room and tells the astonished family, “How else could I have brought you all together?”
The tears of sadness and grief turn in tears of happiness and joy as the family sits down for a Christmas feast and a time of fellowship.
The video has been seen more than 52 million times online.
All too often, we’re too busy to realize what’s important. The family was too busy to visit the old man when he was alive, but rushed right home when they had heard he had died.
Being “too busy” happens to all of us. It’s happened to me. A year or two ago, I wrote about how I had come across a Christmas card from my grandmother.
What she wrote in that card would only take up 95 characters of a tweet on Twitter, “Thank you for coming to see me. You are so special. Hope to see you often. Love, Grandma Robson.”
Grandma passed away less than a year after she wrote those words. If memory serves, I drove the 100 miles to see her for Christmas that year, but didn’t go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house again until her funeral back in 2011.
I’d love to see her again this Christmas.
When I first became a journalist here in Highland County, I had the unique experience of having four editors in four years. My second editor in the late 1990s was Pete Sloan. Pete was a gifted writer and editor, had a unique sense of humor, a heart of gold and was a lot of fun to be around. I really liked him a lot and considered him a friend.
Among many, many memories, I remember the time he was talking with a contributor and he asked her why she looked sad that day.
She replied that she would be going to a funeral later that afternoon, and without hesitation, Pete quipped, “Well, ya know, you can’t have a funeral without a little f-u-n.”
That was Pete.
Eventually, Pete accepted an editor’s job at a newspaper in Seymour, Ind., birthplace of John Cougar Mellencamp. (Little pink houses for you and me…)
Ol’ Pete offered me a job with the paper, and I drove over to Seymour for an interview. I liked the place and seriously thought about taking the job, but I turned him down and eventually went to grad school at Ohio State.
Over the years, we’d email each other from time to time, and as luck would have it, Pete ended up in Raleigh, N.C. right around the time I was working at a newspaper in Goldsboro, N.C. – about an hour east of Raleigh.
Pete and I talked often about meeting up and hanging out from time to time, but I guess we both got too busy to make it happen and I ended up moving back to Ohio in 2007. Not too terribly long ago, I was thinking about Pete and did a little online searching to see what he was up to these days.
I found out that at the age of 45, Steven “Pete” Sloan passed away suddenly on Friday, June 29, 2012 – more than four years ago.
I miss ya, Pete. Sorry I never came and visited you in Raleigh.
Earlier this year, I was given a video camera to use for work. I found out that it used the same type of memory card as a camera we have, so my lovely wife, Helen, and I thought it would be nice to take a video of our doggies, especially our oldest, Bacall, because Bacall was great at catching Frisbees and could snatch tossed popcorn out of the air like a pro.
There was a time around her birthday where we decided to bring out the video camera, but quickly found that the battery was dead. We put the battery on a charger and put the camera away.
Around a month later, as you might have read back in October, Bacall became ill and we found out that she had cancer in her stomach. It was terminal.
Now I wish I had taken the camera back out, put in a recharged battery and taken that video.
But we all have such busy lives in our own little worlds, right?
Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press.