My mom used to say, “Presence is a virtue”. What she meant by that is that sometimes you go to things because it is the right thing to do. We went to all the reunions. We went to all the First Communions. We went to all the Baptisms. We went to all the Birthday parties. We were at everything. I have a recent example to share.
My great uncle, “Skinny” Martin, died. My mom’s Uncle, Skinny was a great guy who seemingly outlived everyone else. He was the oldest living fireman in Omaha when he died at the age of 95. Skinny’s sister Mary was my grandma, and she died nearly 30 years ago. Both my mom and her brother are also deceased. So Skinny was literally the last living relative on that side of the family. I know my Dad was close to Skinny and his death was significant for my Dad because it closed that chapter of my Dad’s life as well.
So the funeral was in Omaha, on a Tuesday. It was my 40th birthday. I have 4 children in school. 2 of my children were in after school sports that day. I had to work. I had meetings and statuses. Omaha is 400 miles away. We couldn’t leave until after work the day before. What about birthday cake and presents? My kids had tests and homework. It would be expensive. I was tired. My wife was tired.
I thought, “There are 50 excuses not to go and we’re going anyway.”
We went for my Dad. We went to show that side of the family that they were important. We went because going was the right thing to do. We went despite 50 excuses to not go.
How did it feel? It felt really good to see everyone, make my Dad proud, have older relatives meet and interact with my young children wearing their little boy suits, and just being there.
Sometimes being present means more to other people than to us. Do you ever decide to be present “just because” someone else will get satisfaction and fulfillment from you showing up? Maybe the next time you should.