By JEFF TOLMAN
My old friend’s wife called. “Joe (not his real name) is terminal and he’d like you to come out to the house.”
I went to their home and over the next hour we laughed and cried and reminisced about our three decades of friendship. At the end of the conversation I, as I often do with my elderly clients, asked Joe what, looking back on his life, he thinks I should pass on to my children and grandchildren.
Joe thought for a moment, then said, “First, take every conversation with a grain of salt. Almost always there is another side to the issue.
“Second, I believe this generation is living life as a blur. They value themselves on how much activity they can pack into every day. I fear they are missing moments that would add joy and peace to their lives.
“Finally, the best investment anyone can have, irregardless of the stock market or prime rate, is kindness. It continually pays great dividends.”
Over the years, I have asked many elders about lessons they hope pass to the next generations. Most are common-sense life lessons we sometimes just need reminded of in our busy daily lives.
Say “I love you” whenever you leave your family.
You can never hold hands with your spouse enough.
The most beautiful sound in the world is young children laughing.
Never go to sleep mad at your spouse.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
You will regret, as you get older, the things in your life you didn’t do more than those things you did.
This, too, will pass.
Surround yourself by people who can be happy for you. Stay away from people who are always trying to top your stories and experiences.
When you are young, you think everyone has the perfect family. When you are older you wonder if anyone does. Don’t expect your family — or anyone’s else’s — to be perfect.
The answer to a good life is moderation.
Everyone likes to get a letter from a friend or family member.
One crusty old gent asked, “Are your kids boys or girls?” “Boys,” I said. He thought a minute, then said. “Tell them to keep their zippers up and learn to type.”
All good advice.
Every Memorial Day weekend, as we remember and honor those who have passed before us through our thoughts, our flowers, our smiles and stories of times with them, let us also show our respect by hearing, respecting and living the lessons that they, looking back on their lives, felt should be passed on to the next generations.
May future Memorial Day weekends be filled with happy memories of those who have touched our lives and, though now passed, are still a part of our daily thoughts.
Copyright Jeff Tolman 2013. All rights reserved.
— Jeff Tolman is a lawyer in Poulsbo and a periodic guest columnist for the Herald.