My wife Rae and I just returned from a getaway to Mexico to reconnect as husband and wife, and wind down from a full schedule of commitments and priorities. We knew we were destined for many walks on the beach, drinks by the pool, great food and meeting interesting new people from all over the world. What I had not predicted was one new connection that has me once again questioning the concept of fate. Was this trip destined to connect me to someone who would remind me of life valuable lessons and to engrain a deeper sense of gratitude and daily intentional living?
We arrived Saturday night and I was up early as usual on Sunday for some exercise and to save our spots by the pool. I was at the pool well before anyone else at the resort, except one guy, Ted. I threw my stuff on a beach chair within talking distance of Ted and we immediately started into conversation. Ted and I had many things in common (passion for hockey, being Canadian) and it was interesting to find out that he had three girls who were all now into their twenties. Through the conversation, Ted confided that he lost his wife only two weeks’ prior to the same brain cancer Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip is battling. I didn’t quite know what to say and I certainly didn’t want to probe further at this point.
I walked back to our room and told Rae about Ted and his situation. I had a lot of things going through my mind. He was a young guy in his fifties with a lot of life left and here he just lost his wife, his three girls losing their mom. Of all the potential people for me (a guy with 4 girls) to throw my stuff beside, it just felt as if there was something I was to take away from this.
We spent the entire week with Ted, his girls and their other family and friends. We hung by the pool, we had dinners together, we borrowed their snorkeling gear. We listened as Ted talked about how each of his daughters are so different and special, stories of his wife and their mother and other great family conversations. We watched this family full of love clearly on a trip for healing and some reflection after the tough battle recently ended. We saw a man with deep respect for his kids and vice versa. We talked of our girls, raising big families and all the people who support our kids. Each day, Rae and I would walk back to room to get cleaned up for supper and we would laugh at the events of the day, talk of Ted and the family and reflect on how lucky we are.
So why did I put my pool towel beside Ted? Was it fate or just a coincidence and I am reading too much into it? What I have been reminded about ever since of learning of his story is that things can change in a heartbeat. Husbands, wives, children can get sick and even pass away when there were so many other plans that have not been completed yet.
Life might be short. Life might be long. We don’t know and we need to drink in each moment we have with those who are important to us. Spend time with people who add value and politely decline those who destroy value. Shower your kids with life experiences rather than material possessions. Make memories everyday so you can enjoy them for the rest of your days.