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The tragedies that remind us to make time for each other

Posted by Administrator on December 4, 2011

It just occurred to me that for the past couple of years, the only occasion I get to meet most of my relatives is during funerals.

A few days ago, I lost a cousin, who we buried yesterday. When I heard about his death, I was filled with regret.

You see, I hadn’t seen or talked to him for almost two years, yet when we were children, we – the cousins, that is – would meet several times a year.

The tradition was to spend holidays, especially Christmas, at our grandparents’ home. We’d slaughter a goat, eat chapati, and have a good time, reluctantly leaving after dark.

As we grew up, however, the get-togethers became fewer and fewer, and we grew further and further apart. Even though this cousin had been married for several years and had three children, I’d only met his family just once. Even worse, I had no idea where he lived.

When something like this happens, which isn’t often thank God, we always contact each other to agree on how to assist the affected family.

This time was no different; however, as I handed over my contribution to the appointed treasurer, I couldn’t help wishing that the money was to facilitate the long-forgotten get-togethers we used to have.

It pained me that the only thing bringing us together was the death of one of us.

What changed? No matter how much I searched within myself, I couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer, probably because there isn’t one.

Extended families

Curious, I asked a couple of friends and colleagues how often they met with their extended families. While there were several who described their families as close, there are some who confessed that they hadn’t visited one another in years.

When I asked why, they were hard-pressed to come up with an answer, eventually settling on the scapegoat we all reach for – work. But if we’re honest, work has nothing to do with why we’re estranged from our relatives. You and I don’t work 365 days a year, do we?

Some time back, someone told me about a cousin of his who attempted to commit suicide after realising that the man she planned to get married to was her brother.

Turned out that her father had had a child with another woman, a child that he’d never bothered to tell anyone about.

Such stories convince me that this big world is really not that big. It convinces me that the possibility of my son meeting and falling in love with a pretty cousin he’s never met, several years from now, is not far-fetched.

That is why I plan to initiate a family get-together this December, which, hopefully, will be the beginning of many more to come.

Two days ago, someone forwarded me an email that prompted me to re-examine my priorities.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and began to fill an empty jar with golf balls. When he could no longer fit any more golf balls, he asked his students if the jar was full. They said it was.

Box of pebbles

He then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar and shook it so that they settled into the open spaces between the golf balls.

Once again, he asked the students if the jar was full. They said it was. He picked up a box of sand and emptied it into the jar. This time round, there was no doubt that the snug-looking jar was full, and the students told him so.

“This jar represents your life,” he informed them. The golf balls, he said, were the important things – God, family,children, health and friends, things that if everything else was lost but they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles stood for the things that matter, such as your job, house, and car, while the sand represents everything else, basically the inconsequential stuff in your life.

“If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that should be important to you,” he summarised.

cnjunge@ke.nationmedia.com

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/lifestyle/The+tragedies+that+remind+us++to+make+time+for+each+other+/-/1214/1283404/-/2lobdb/-/index.html

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