One afternoon in October, 1996, my dad drove his pickup truck, pulling a trailer loaded with lumber, into the woods of the family farm in central Missouri, where his brother lived. He parked the trailer underneath a huge oak tree he had selected as the perfect spot for an elevated deer stand. Then, he climbed 28-feet up, hoisted the tools and lumber he needed with an elaborate pulley-system he devised, and started working. Dad was 67-years-old. 🙄
He had invited his older brother — my Uncle Fred — to join him, but Uncle Fred had his own project going, so he declined. However, about 30 minutes later, Uncle Fred reconsidered, thinking, “Sam probably shouldn’t be up there by himself….” 🤔 So, he made the 1/4 mile walk up through the woods to where Dad was already at work, almost 30-feet up.
He was there less than five minutes when he watched my dad fall.
Dad fell twenty-three feet, landing on top of the lumber that was stacked neatly in the trailer, shattering the bones in his right leg. He bounced off of the trailer, and fell another five feet to the ground, landing on his back. When his head snapped back against the ground, it found a 3-inch piece of rock sticking just barely out of the ground, splitting the back of his head open. Thankfully, he never remembered any of it.
When my uncle arrived back at the house, out of breath, waving his arms and crying, the family asked him what was wrong. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He couldn’t speak. Someone asked, “Is it Sam?” He nodded, “Yes.”
“Is he alive?”
He shook his head, “No.”
When they reached the site, they found my dad, Sam McGarity, sitting up, with his back against THE tree…dazed, bleeding, in shock…but alive.
In the ambulance, on the way to the hospital, Dad told the paramedics, and I quote, “It wasn’t the fall that hurt me. It was the sudden stop at the end.” It was only about the millionth time that he had used that line. 🤦♂️
I will never forget driving from Houston to Missouri with my wife, Dee, and stopping in Oklahoma to call the hospital to see if my dad was still alive.
A month later, the doctor told us, “I spent the first two days trying to save his life, and the next two weeks trying to save his leg.” He was successful on both counts. (Yay, God, and way to go, Doc!)
However, it dramatically changed the quality of Dad’s life for the remaining nineteen years of his life. In 2008, not too long before Dad came to live with us, as I was helping him maneuver between his recliner and his walker one day, he surprised me by saying, “Son, if I could have just one day of my life to do over, I would have never gotten up in that tree.” He said it with such understated conviction in his voice, it shocked me. It disturbed me. I don’t ever remember him expressing that kind of deep regret before.
Do you have one of those days in your history? A day that you deeply, and painfully, regret? A day that, in your mind, has stamped you…defined you? More than one, maybe? What do you think your chances are for a do-over?
I can tell you. Your chances of a do-over for THAT day are exactly the same as they were for my dad.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are OTHER days that are available to you. Unused days. Days that are still out there, waiting. Waiting for YOU…to LIVE them. Days that God has given to you…and me, too.
My dad? In the nineteen years he had left, among other things, he moved from Missouri to Texas, watched his grandsons play ball, attended one of his grandson’s wedding, met his first two GREAT-grandchildren, bought a new house, and — after my mother had passed away — got married. At the age of 75. Yes, there were some rough days…some regrets. But, he “lived”.
Can I tell you that in my life, I’ve had more than a few regrets? Painful ones. I wasn’t always confident that I could ever be happy again. But, can I also tell you that I’ve had more than a few comebacks, too. And, I’m doing everything I can to try to live.
I don’t know what your story is, or what kind of regrets, and broken dreams, you’re dealing with. I’m not trying to minimize your pain, or your grief. I’m just sayin’…you can still LIVE. And life can be good. The sun can shine on you again.
In Psalm 27:13, the Psalmist says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
My dad did. I see that goodness every day. You can, too. I hope you’ll give it your best shot. Don’t quit. There are unused days out there in front of you, just waiting to be lived. And, it never hurts to ask for Divine help, either.
I love you all. ❤️🙏