Friday, November 14, 2014

If I Knew . . .

I remember as a psychology teacher way back when, I had my kids write their own epitaph.  The idea was for them to consider their life, how they’ve lived up to then, and write how they would want to be remembered.

I’m not sure why, but this week . . . all this week . . . I was thinking about Helen Keller, and the article that appeared in Atlantic Magazine that was titled, Three Days To See.  In it, she talked about what she would do if she was granted the gift of sight for three days. 

Sight is something we take for granted, don’t we?  Perhaps like a lot of things.

Randy Pausch was a professor who died of complications from pancreatic cancer.  He is best known for his “Last Lecture” that NBC News featured.  He lived his life to the very end- every last minute. This link will take you to a wonderful talk he gave about achieving your childhood.

In one of my earlier writings, I wrote about Steve Gleason, a former football player who is suffering from ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Gleason and a team of volunteers and family members climbed a mountain even though he is pretty much confined to a wheelchair, but what I like most is that Gleason is recording thoughts and memories for his son to remember him by.  Again, another example of living life to the full, regardless of the cards dealt to him.

Which leads me to today’s thought and something I want you to consider, perhaps on a deeper level than one you normally go to when you read my writing . . .? 

If you knew you were going to die at a specific time on a specific day . . . let’s say, three days from now, what would you do?  How would you spend your remaining time?  With whom would you spend it?  And, knowing that two days from now you would die, what things would you say and to whom would you say them?  What thoughts, feelings, what emotions would you share and with whom? And, what would you keep to yourself, if anything?

My first thought upon reading the above paragraph is family- Kim, Hannah, Emily.  Then I broadened that to my remaining brothers and sisters, my nieces and nephews.  I’d throw in some very close friends, JT who is like a son to me.  Others.  Those are the people I would want to spend my remaining time with.

As for what I’d say or what I’d share, well, I think you know me well enough by now that I’d urge them to live, really live.  Not waste a moment on regret or worry.  Not spend one second thinking about what should have been done, what could have been done.  I’d remind them that what is in the past should be left there and that everyone needs to move on, move along and keep going. 

I don’t know that I’d waste my time on a final great meal, unless it was with those I mentioned above.  I don’t know that I’d spend the money to go to this place or that place to see this or that, again, unless it was with those I mentioned above.  Because for me, the last two or three days wouldn’t be about seeing this or that- it would be about spending some meaningful time with those who give me great joy, with those who I’ve loved the most.

And lastly, I’d probably tell them that if they shed even one tear, I’d come back and haunt the hell out of them, because I’d want to be remembered with smiles and laughter – because, I’ve said and done some really stupid stuff!

Okay, now that you’ve thought about that, I have to ask you this very important question: what are you waiting for?

Why should you wait until the very end to do what needs to be done?  Why are you waiting to spend time with those whom you love, long for?  Why are you waiting to say what needs to be said?  Why are you waiting to do what needs to be done? 

In whatever time you and I have on this earth, don’t you think we’ve wasted enough time? Don’t you think we’ve withheld too much of our thoughts and our feelings already?  This month, I turn 61 and I figure I’m already on the backside of the mountain.  I can’t waste any more time than I have already.  Haven’t you, too?  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers . . .
I want to thank you for taking a chance on a rookie writer by purchasing and reading my two books, Taking Lives, which is a prequel to my trilogy- the Lives Trilogy, and Stolen Lives, the first book in the trilogy.  Taking Lives debuted on August 4, 2014 and has not left the top 50 on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers list.  Stolen Lives debuted last evening and I woke up to find that, as of this writing, it is #19, #64, and #89 on three different Amazon’s 100 Best Seller lists.

Thank you!

For those of you who haven’t yet, if interested, they can be found at:
Taking Lives:

Stolen Lives:



  1. Very thought provoking, Joseph, as I've come to enjoy from most of your stories. I remember Randy when he gave that speech and how hard he fought to live just as Patrick Swayze only to humbly surrender in the end. Another that comes to mind is Jimmy's Valvano in his inspiring 1993 ESPY speech (

    It's inevitable that in this life we will all come to that point when we will have to leave. I like to think of my life in ways that you spoke of: spending it with family and loved ones, appreciating the little moments and noticing the gifts God embraces us with everyday.

    Like you said, we all get busy and caught up in the busyness of life but it's nice to be reminded like this so we can do something about it now and consciously practice it.

  2. Thank you, Pat. I appreciate your comments and your thoughts.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe