03/02/2012 03:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Life in Seven Days -- and a Few Minutes


This post is dedicated to my grandparents, Papá Justito and Mamá Julita (Above)

A couple of years ago, feeling sentimental and having just finished the seventh decade of my life, I suddenly realized that, at age 70, "days pass like minutes, years go by like days" and I decided to compress the seven decades I had lived into seven days and to put some thoughts down on paper -- just in case.

Well, I am still here after having been granted the privilege of the few more minutes I had prayed for at the time, to "tell my grandson and all my family how much I love them, to tell them how precious every fleeting second of every day of our lives is, and to thank Him for seven short but exhilarating and unforgettable days -- more than I deserve."

It is funny how quickly one forgets such intentions and gratefulness. Not that I have stopped telling my loved ones how much I love them and not that I have stopped thanking Him for the additional minutes he has given me. Just that I am not doing it as frequently and as fervently as I had intended to -- perhaps distracted by the ongoing political din and bustle.

How about a couple more hours, God?

Anyway, here it is as I wrote it two years ago:

Exactly one week ago, I was born in a small town in Ecuador. From what I remember of the first day of my life, it was carefree, full of love, full of fun. I especially remember my Grandfather, the kindest person I ever knew. I was very close to him. His name was Justo Rodríguez. I called him "Papá Justito." I still see his kind, smiling face.

That first day went by much too quickly and when I was only 10, I left my native country to join my parents in the Netherlands Antilles. Sadly, my grandparents stayed behind. I was too excited to realize how much I loved them, especially my grandfather. I was too young to fathom how much he loved me, how terribly he would miss me or to contemplate that I might never see him again.

The next day would be a busy and eventful one. My father retired and we left our little paradise in the Antilles to live in the Netherlands where my siblings and I were educated.

That very same afternoon, we emigrated to the United Sates where I joined the military and became a U.S. citizen. A few hours later, I met my future wife while spending a couple of hours on a military assignment in England.

Head-over-heels in love, we were married early in the morning of the third day of my life. A couple of hours later we became the proud parents of a lovely baby boy. Almost at the same instant, my Grandfather in Ecuador passed away. I spent the rest of that hectic and consequential day advancing my military career, nurturing my new, young family.

The next day would be another long and busy one. While serving my newly adopted country overseas, we were blessed with a beautiful baby daughter. I stayed very busy taking care of a growing family and working late into the night, forging ahead with my career and my education. At day's end, I retired from the military and went on to work for a defense contractor where I was even more intent on succeeding professionally, and financially.

As for the fifth day of my life, with me now out of uniform and in a business suit, I only remember a whirlwind of airplane rides to far-away cities and lands and a blur of dinner meetings and presentations, trying to get new business for my company, trying to "get ahead." It was a day so busy and "important" that I failed to appreciate the gorgeous sunset or to notice that the days were beginning to grow shorter. A night turned tragic when I received the shattering news that my Mother had been taken away from us under horrific circumstances.

I stayed busy for at least part of the next day, the sixth day, until I suddenly realized that my wife's hair was turning silver, and that my little boy was now a fine young man whom I had hardly gotten to know. That same day, just as suddenly, another fine young man asked for the hand of my little girl, and I retired from my second career and gave my daughter away in marriage. That evening, for the first time, I enjoyed a glorious sunset and finally realized what is truly important in life.

On the morning of the seventh and most recent day, I became the grandfather to a precious boy. A boy who has been a bright light in my life, as the days grow even shorter and darker. It has been a day full of the special, priceless joys that only a grandchild can bring to a grandparent. It has also been a day when my grandson turned ten, exactly the same age I was when I left my grandfather behind in Ecuador, never to see him again.

I now know how much my grandfather must have loved me, how much he must have suffered when I left him, and how much he must have missed not seeing me grow up.

It is now the end of "my week:" A week that has gone by much too swiftly. It seems inconceivable that only a week ago I cried "Hello" and that today it is almost time to whisper "Goodbye," as the days, the hours, the minutes are turning so very, very short.

I hope to be around for one more day to see my grandson grow up and to see him start a family of his own -- perhaps even long enough to cherish a great-grandchild.

If that's out of the question, I ask to have a few more hours to help guide my grandson through his adolescence, to hold him and comfort him when he has problems, to see him graduate from high school and on his way to college.

If that's not possible either, I pray to be given a few more minutes to tell my grandson and all my family how much I love them, to tell them how precious every fleeting second of every day of our lives is, and to thank Him for seven short but exhilarating and unforgettable days -- more than I deserve.


"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching" ~Unknown Source