When I was superintendent of schools in Palo Alto,
California, Polly Tyner, the president of our board of
trustees, wrote a letter that was printed in the Palo Alto
Times. Polly's son, Jim, had great difficulty in school. He
was classified as educationally handicapped and required a
great deal of patience on the part of his parents and
teachers. But Jim was a happy kid with a great smile that
lit up the room. His parents acknowledged his academic
difficulties, but always tried to help him see his strengths
so that he could walk with pride. Shortly after Jim finished
high school, he was killed in a motorcycle accident. After
his death, his mother submitted this letter to the
Today we buried our 20-year-old son. He was killed instantly
in a motorcycle accident on Friday night. How I wish I had
known when I talked to him last that it would be the last
time. If I had only known I would have said, "Jim, I love
you and I'm so very proud of you."
I would have taken the time to count the many blessings he
brought to the lives of the many who loved him. I would have
taken time to appreciate his beautiful smile, the sound of
his laughter, his genuine love of people.
When you put all the good attributes on the scale and you
try to balance all the irritating traits such as the radio
which was always too loud, the haircut that wasn't to our
liking, the dirty socks under the bed, etc., the irritations
don't amount to much.
I won't get another chance to tell my son all I would have
wanted him to hear, but, other parents, you do have a
chance. Tell your young people what you would want them to
hear if you knew it would be your last conversation. The
last time I talked to Jim was the day he died. He called me
to say, "Hi, Mom! I just called to say I love you. Got to go
to work. Bye." He gave me something to treasure forever.
If there is any purpose at all to Jim's death, maybe it is
to make others appreciate more of life and to have people,
especially families, take the time to let each other know
just how much we care.
You may never have another chance. Do it today!