2006 was a great year in many ways for me and I hope for all of you as well, and this note will serve as my version of a New Year message, but for me it’s much more.
2006 also brought a couple of extraordinary new challenges to my life. During this year of great experiences in my family, my business, my volunteer activities, and many personal highlights, I also suffered the loss of dear loved ones including my own “Pop”, Charlie Black, and my closest friend in my business life, Chris Cottey.
My Dad squeezed every drop out of his wonderful 84 years, and there are really no regrets. I’m proud to have served on his ship. Losing Chris is a lot different, and there is no way to feel anything but regret about the great years lost. Yes, this is sad, but I’m not looking for anyone to send me a message of condolence. That is not why I needed to write this story.
I want to share a great learning that I have taken away from these experiences, one that I did not expect. You see, it started when I became the unexpected beneficiary of a wonderful piece of life called hospice.
In case you are unfamiliar with hospice, it is a process that allows people to pass away in the most peaceful and nurturing environment possible – in their own homes among loved ones. Hospice is great for the person who is passing, but our hospice experience offered an unexpected epiphany. You see, the really big impact was not on my Dad, it was on me.
These wonderful hospice people make sure every interaction with family members is as caring and sensitive as possible. Their objective with everyone is to “do no harm”. Their deep and heartfelt caring was clear in how they treated me. It made everything so much easier. And while experiencing my loss, to my surprise, I found that I was being taught an extraordinary lesson about my own personal responsibility in dealing with others.
I realized that I must commit myself to treat others with goodwill at heart; I must do it all the time, one interaction after another.
But being realistic, it’s not as if every interaction is easy and positive. Sometimes news may not be good and tough decisions have to be made. However for me, even when the news is hard to deliver, goodwill from the heart must be the foundation I draw on for both positive and the more difficult constructive/negative interactions.
Living this way will serve as the greatest tribute I can offer to both my Dad and my friend Chris.
So Happy New Year my friends; for me, it’s truly a Brand New Year, and I plan to be a better person for the lessons I learned from hospice.
You know, I really could have learned the same things before, if I had just paid closer attention to the way people were treated by Charlie Black and Chris Cottey.
So, how about you? Are there special people in your life that could inspire you and change you…but it’s not happening? Well, just like me, maybe you need to just pay a little closer attention.
Thanks for sharing time with me. I wish you all an extraordinarily fulfilling 2007.