There was a lawyer who lived 500 miles away from her elderly father. They had not seen each other in a number of months. The father calls her up and asks, “When are you coming for a visit?” The daughter proceeds to tell him about the demands on her time, her court schedule, meetings, and so on and so on, that prevent her from visiting. So the father says, “You must tell me something I’ve been wondering about for some time now. When I die, do you intend to come to my funeral?” The lawyer responds, “Dad! I can’t believe you’d ask that. Of course, I’d come to the funeral.” The father replied, “Good. Let’s make a deal. Forget the funeral. I need you more now than I will then.”
I was once witness to a conversation between a man who was getting ready for a serious surgery and his close friend. The friend assured the patient that, though he was extremely busy, he would be there with him during the surgery. But the sick man requested him not to do so, but if possible, be with him when he would be wearing of the anesthesia and waking up, as that is when he would need his encouraging presence more than when, for all practical purposes, he would be as good as dead under the anesthesia – he woke up from the anesthesia to face his pains all by himself.
We would take any amount of trouble to be present for the funeral, but it is while still alive that people need to feel your love and concern for them. “If you love him, tell him so; for he can’t read the tombstone when he is dead.”