My parents are the kind of people who know everybody.
We used to joke growing up about how often they would get stopped in the grocery store or whenever else we were out, and about how long those friendly chats to say hi would last.
We grew up in a small community outside of West Plains where all of the neighbors know each other, going back a few generations.
Even though I live a couple of hours away from them now, it’s not uncommon for me to run into someone who knows some member of my family.
One of those people worked with my mother for a number of years before retirement.
He was sweet and funny, and always very kind when we crossed paths, usually at an event to recognize members of the military. His father is a World War II veteran and the family frequently came to Poplar Bluff for Memorial Day and VA events.
I saw him last in February, during a VA event. I was covering the event and rushing from one thing to the next.
I was surprised to see him and I hope we chatted, but the memory is a bit of a blur. He liked reading the newspaper and would mention my work when we ran into each other, and ask after my mother.
He passed away this week. I was surprised to come across his obituary when we were putting pages together.
My first thought was, but I just saw him.
My second was, I wish I’d stopped longer to talk.
It was one of those moments that makes you pause and realize we shouldn’t take so much for granted. You never know when that last time will be.
I wish I could promise right now to slow down a little and take more time to appreciate every moment. But I know the truth is I’ll probably be in a rush next week too, for whatever emergency has popped up or task that needs to be done.
But I’ll keep making a conscious effort to slow down. I think that’s important too.