The untimely passing of my friend, Troy Feltmann, reminded me of something that I have made a priority in recent years. This is to let people know how special they are and how much I appreciate them while they are here to hear it.
There is a tendency in our culture to avoid that kind of thing. Although, of course, women are much better at it than men, but we struggle with such a simple thing.
Especially with guys of roughly the same age, there are certain acceptable topics of conversation, such as sports or fishing, but talking about our feelings is not on that list.
The excuse people often give is, “They know how I feel, so I don’t need to tell them.”
Maybe they know, maybe they don’t, but it seems like it would be nice for them to hear.
We might say nice things after someone has passed or write glowing tributes. All that is fine, but one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to tell them how much we appreciate them while they are alive.
I feel fortunate that I have reached this understanding and been able to apply it in my later years. I only wish I would have figured it out sooner.
In the case of “Brother” Feltmann, I am confident he knew how I felt because I made a point to tell him often. During my recovery after multiple strokes, Troy visited me on a weekly basis to help with various tasks, keep me in touch with the outside world, and tell a story or two.
During these visits, I frequently told him how much I appreciated him. I think this might have made him uncomfortable at first, but that didn’t stop me from telling him.
As a result, I don’t have any regrets or wish I would have said this or that before he passed. That is a comfort to me as I grieve over his death.
Since my brain injury, I have been experimenting with writing poetry, both as a brain exercise and a therapeutic tool. Below is one of my early efforts that addresses this topic.
Tell them now
The church was as full as a bucket in berry season; faithful friends gathered, noble of reason; riding a wave of fresh soap and sweet scent; sharing stories about just how much he had meant.
Tears were soon shed, and hugs were exchanged; relationships, cares, and connections explained. The tributes began, the accolades started; everyone heard, but the dearly departed.
The person who needed to hear the kind words; was past such perception, his soul with the birds.
The time to tell people, to freely discuss; the value they have, how much they impress us, is while they’re alive and can hear how they rate; if we choose to delay, it might just be too late.