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Time after time

“Time is on my side, yes it is,” sang the Rolling Stones.

But is it?

My friend’s mother died unexpectedly this week. “It was her time,” someone said. Does that mean the time we’re alive is not our time? Whatever the case, in the premature timing of her passing, we’re reminded once again how precious time is.

On my last trip to Florida I spent a lot of time driving my grandparents to stores. Errands that should have taken a little time, took whole afternoons, since sprightly, their legs no longer are.

“Nana, can I help you make a list before we go to Costco?” I said, wanting to save time. “What do I need a list for? I’ll know it when I see it,” she replied, and then spent hours walking up and down every aisle.

When you’re young you think of your future in terms of years and even decades. But when you’re in your 80s and 90s – the bulk of your time behind you – you start to think in terms hours, days, and months.

“How was cards?” I asked a friend of my grandfather’s, 86, one night at the Clubhouse. “How should it be?” he said. “Same as always. But it passes the time.”

Most of us are trying to save time. There are apps (Jott and Remember The Milk) and products (plastic bins and portable file totes) promising to help do this, yet many continue to waste it by living with clutter (“Where are my keys?”), procrastination (“I know I should get it done, but…”), and the Internet and TV.

“My daughter studies ten hours a day,” said another of my grandparents’ friends, 72, shaking his head. “Life’s too short to spend it studying all day. Better to enjoy your time while you have it.”

While I could have completed my grandparents’ errands in a fraction of the time, I also knew it was important to just enjoy the time – whatever we were doing – with them.

“Slow down,” said my grandfather, 90, seated next to me in the car when we left Costco, “we’ve got plenty of time.” As I reluctantly eased my foot off the pedal, I didn’t bother telling him I was rushing because I wanted a little extra time by the pool.

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