While Time Is on my Side

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First of all, don’t forget to send in your notes for the Encouragement Tree. If you’ve not read about how to participate, check out the post HERE. I am excited to hand off these notes to the various women. The response has been good!

Secondly, it’s rare that I post something written by someone else and even more seldom that I do so posthumously, but today I want to send a message from one of my three favorite women in the whole world. It’s from the year 1982. The writer was addressing her older brother. She was in her early fifties as she wrote and had already learned about the cancer that would eventually take her life. She had lost her mother a few months earlier and even more recently lost her father. I was working in my kitchen the other day and this letter fell from an old family cookbook. The letter was penned by my mother, Johnnia Duncan Holder, to my Uncle Clifford Smith. I think it contains some pretty powerful lessons about contentment, the brevity of life, and the urgency of saying things that need to be said. Is there someone to whom you need to express your love and appreciation while time is on your side? Do it during this holiday season.

Dear Clifford,

I’m sorry we could not get in touch with you when Frank died. I talked with Glenda during the time, but neither of us was able to reach you.

Clifford, if I can, I would like to have you and Estelle, along with the others, on the eleventh of September. I hope we can make this an annual event. It seems it would be a good time, since it is good, weather-wise, and would not interfere with each of our family holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I hope to see each of you sometime during these holidays, also. We have a few family things to take care of. I hope I can have Daddy’s insurance money for everybody by that time. Also, we can have a ball looking at the old family pictures and dividing them up. Plan to come early and spend the day or come the night before if you can. We have plenty of room. We now have two extra beds and a couch that makes a bed. I know, we only have one bath, but that’s one more than we were raised with (ha ha).

I’m looking forward to seeing you. If you can think of a better time and if this is not convenient, let me know.

Clifford, I have been made more aware this year than ever, of how precious time is, and how many things I leave undone. It seems I beat the wind for those things that really make no difference and leave undone the weightier matters. We will all too soon leave behind this world and all of the things therein, but will carry on with us the love we have for each other. Although I cannot spend as much time with all of you here as I want to, there is the comforting thought of the happy reunion in heaven where there is no measuring of time and the hope that our family will be 100% in attendance there. If only I could have the same hope for my own brood.

While time is still on my side, I cannot let this opportunity slip by without mentioning to you my love for you and yours. All of my life you have been a great source of love and encouragement to me.

My earliest memories are you. Not my mother or my daddy, but you. You were just a small boy, I know. But it is not that way in my memory. It seems like you were about grown and whatever you told me I knew it was right. You were the kind of baby-sitter money cannot buy. It certainly was not baby-sitting. It was running, cleaning, washing, ironing and still finding time, during it all, to talk to me. I remember the old well at the Gamble place where you had to draw water to do all the chores. Then all of these things were done by a mere lad, without the help of machines, and practically no toys to entertain the baby. But she was entertained in the finest way that even a princess couldn’t know; for indeed you made her believe a princess she really was.

As I grew older, it was you who set the example of obeying the gospel and, unlike you, I had known the truth for some time, but had not thought of it seriously until you set the example for me, and when I learned you were going to obey the Lord, I thought seriously along spiritual matters and decided to be baptized also and live my life in the service of the Savior.

Since that time, You have always been, as you were in the past, a great help, joy, and source of comfort in time of need.

I hope I haven’t bored you with these old sentimental reflections of the past, but I just wanted you to know I love you.

Your sister,

Johnnia

(I’m very glad for my wonderful Uncle Clifford who, by his obedience, encouraged my mother to walk in the ways of my Lord. I obviously owe him a great and eternal debt. And, by the way, if any of you Duncan-Smiths are reading, how about another reunion in the fall of 2013? Sometime around September 10th, maybe?)

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