When my young grandson was asked if he wanted to read CeeGee’s Gift, he replied, “I don’t want to know the future. I don’t want to know people are going to die.” Fair enough, he just turned ten and is a sweet, sensitive boy. But a few days later, as I finished a presentation at a senior living facility and asked for comments, a man in the group challenged me. “What good is it to know the future?” I stumbled with my reply, saying that when Mr. Tindale learned his time was short, he had an opportunity to make decisions that would transform his small town. Had he passed unexpectedly this might not have occurred. But the question hung in the air. Is it good to know the future, assuming we could? And why did I choose this particular theme to write about anyway, what drew me to the subject?
When I was in my early 40’s I became ill. I had symptoms of pain, fatigue and sleeplessness. I found it hard to think clearly. I went to doctor after doctor, each taking a stab at what might be wrong, none conclusive. I remember thinking, “What if I die before I find out what is killing me?” I very much wanted to know the future during those years. Once I knew what was going on, I could plan, I could manage it, I could make peace with my reality. And I did, ultimately regaining my health. I think this experience may be what prompted me to write about this theme, those seven long years of not knowing what the future would hold and how my life changed when I had a clearer idea of what to expect.
During this time, my mother also got sick, and was eventually diagnosed with leukemia. I looked up information on the disease, and saw that at her age of seventy-five, life expectancy was about a year. I stayed with her a lot in the months to come, knowing we were in our last days together. I’m glad I knew, and grateful I got to be there. Conversely my dad, also 75, went out to play golf on a sunny day and dropped dead of a heart attack on the 18th green. I was glad he did not suffer but also grieved that I did not get to say goodbye, that he left us so suddenly.
So, the gift to me is not so much knowing the future but knowing the direction things are headed and having a chance to work with that. I’d like to have that option every time I can. And, very soon, I’ll get back to my dear grandson with these thoughts, coupled with the understanding that he doesn’t have to read the book unless he truly wants to. It’s his future.