In a short 18 months, I have lost both my momma and my daddy. Our daddy passed first, tragically and unexpectedly, followed by our momma in March of this year. Gretchen, my sister, and I are now the only two in our family left. Orphans with memories.

These past few years have undoubtedly been the most challenging of our lives. The void cannot and will not ever be filled. Yet, I have learned an unfathomable amount from these experiences, and thus, this month – in the Plaid for Women month on FAMILY – I want to share a few lessons I have learned. This is one way I want to pay tribute to my momma and daddy. I believe all things happen for a Divine reason – and one such reason may be to teach us lessons which we need to learn. So…here we go:

Be Present in the Moment. Yes, I wrote a book about this popular adage several years ago. This phrase has become almost a cliché in the world today. It cannot be under emphasized. We are not guaranteed anything in this world. Literally, all we have is this very moment. We never know when we leave someone’s presence, if that is the last time we will see them on this planet. Fortunately, our clear recognition of this throughout our lives, gave us countless valuable and treasured times with Momma and Daddy. It was and is a Gift. We have a sacred responsibility to embrace each and every moment as if it were to be our last…..lesson #1.

True and selfless friends are gifts.  Gretchen and I have been humbled and filled with gratitude for the loyal friendships of so many. We were touched by the outpouring of love and support over the past few years. Whether it was the abundance of food, thoughtfulness of cards and calls, the patience of a listening ear, or the generosity of donations in memory of our parents.….the flow of love was appreciated more than words can express. Yes, there were (are) those whom we did not hear from – and still have not heard from – yet, we choose to embrace the love of those who choose to live the Golden Rule in thought, word, AND deed. Recently, a wise friend stated that it is never a big deal until it happens to you. And this can be so true, as this has been revealed in spades through this experience.  Thus lesson #2: it will be ever-present in my heart and mind, especially given these most recent experiences, to make the call, send the card, give the donation, take the time, leave the message, send the email….with no expectations. This fills my heart…..and as our parents always taught us….treat others the way you would want to be treated, and then you will always sleep well at night.

Parents’ lessons do not stop – ever. I was sharing with a dear family friend late last week that momma and daddy taught us so many things over our 50+ years of having them as parents.  The list is endless…..impossible to summarize in an article. Yet, what I will say relative to these past few years… momma and daddy taught us how to die with dignity, courage, and a selflessness that is hard to comprehend. They both embraced their remaining time on the planet with an unwavering Faith. When you have parents like ours, the bar has been set high – in every single aspect of life. Our charge and lesson #3: to do our best to live up to their example….not a short order….now, and when we reach our time to leave this earth.

Get your affairs in order….now. Onto pragmatic lesson #4: Do NOT wait to get your affairs in order. Period. Daddy and Momma blessed us over 30 years ago by engaging all of us in a process to ‘ready ourselves’ for the inevitable. Living wills, DNR, long-term care insurance, investments, power of attorney (medical and otherwise)…….everything for our immediate family was buttoned up. Is it ‘easy to die’? No…..not in many ways. There are still so many forms, legalities, funeral home transactions, etc. that cannot be completed until the inevitable actually transpires. Yet, what I will say is that we are grateful to mom and daddy for the example they set in this area of life, as well. There were no surprises. We discussed everything in detail many years ago – and revisited this on a regular basis. Net: do not wait until the person is in the hospital, has been given a terminal diagnosis, etc. as that day may never come. Accidents do happen (in the case of my father)…..and then it can be too late. Lesson #4: get your affairs in order…NOW.

Faith, Hope and Love are the glue to Life. The powerful verse of 1 Corinthians 13:13 has been my comfort and mantra in life….particularly these past few years. Loss is hard. Yet, gratitude trumps grief – always has, always will. When we reach that place which seems insurmountable, impassable, and devastating beyond comprehension….Faith, Hope and Love will conquer all. Nothing can ever erase or diminish the Love we experience and the Love we give. NOTHING. Nothing can ever squash Hope. And FAITH will always provide a peace that passes all understanding. It did. It has. It will.

Lesson #5: “And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love….and the greatest of these is love.”

Those are just a few of the lessons I have embraced from these past few years. There are numerous others – yet, these are the universal lessons which our shattering past several months have taught me. Are they relevant? I believe so. Do they relate to life AND business? From my viewpoint…..a resounding yes. And these lessons, with no exception, I have learned from, through, and with my FAMILY as the CENTER.