Extended family.

Gone In A Flash

The sun dropped below the horizon. The sky turned dark. The first stars of the night began to shine.

It was the peak night for the Perseids meteor shower. We gathered our grandchildren in the backyard. S ome sat in chairs and others stretched out on blankets. No street lights were nearby to hinder our view.

"There's one!" Seth, the oldest yelled.

"I missed it!" I whined.

"There's another one!" Josh yelled.

"I saw it!" Ginny and I said together as a streak of dust burned across the sky and faded into nothing. The youngest, Benny, sat in a chair beside me.

"Are you watching, Ben?" I asked.


"Did you see that last one?"

"No!" He sighed. "I missed it."

"Then you weren't watching, were you?"

We cheered and pointed each time a meteor lit the night sky.

"Poppa Mike?" Benny asked.

"Yes, Ben?"

"Clara is the loneliest train, you know?"

I had no idea what Benny was talking about or where the thought came from, so I just played along. "Is that so?" I asked.

"Uh huh?"

"Why is she lonely?"

"She has a boyfriend you know." He paused.

"But she's still lonely?"


Another meteor made a white slash in the night sky. "Wow! Did you see it, Ben?"

"No, I missed it again."

A few weeks later, a lightning storm slowly crawled across the western sky. We watched the bolts of lightning streak diagonally from north-to-south. It was a spectacular display of nature, one we safely watched from a distance.

"Wow! Did you see that one boys?" I asked my grandsons.

"No! We missed it again."

"Guys, you have to focus, these things happen fast. If you don't focus, you'll miss them."

Later that night, after the boys went to bed, I sat out on the deck while Ginny, her daughter, Heather, and her son-in-law, Nathan, watched a show on TV. They laughed each time I screamed, "WOW! That was a good one."

Alone with my thoughts and the lightning, I remembered the meteor shower. The lightning was the same. The flashes of light were gone in the blink of an eye. I asked myself, "Mike, how many of life's meteors and lightning bolts have you missed because you weren't paying attention?"

I had no answer to the question, for if I knew, then I wouldn't have missed them. How many times have I come home from work too wrapped in my own thoughts and missed those "daddy's home" smiles of my children? Those little smiles are lost forever, as I walked right by them. How many opportunities did I miss to praise my wife or my children? How many chances to say, "I love you" to my wife did I miss?

I made a pledge that night to pay more attention to those around me. When I arrive home from work, work stays at work and my attention is on my family, because those opportunities -- those streaks of light -- don't last long.

They're gone in a flash.

~ Michael T. Smith ~
<heartsandhumor at gmail.com>

Michael lives in Ohio with his wife Ginny and his stepdaughter's family. You can see a list of Mike's stories here: http://tinyurl.com/moud8u And you can get his stories emailed to you by signing up here: http://tinyurl.com/ldjruh
[ by: Michael T. Smith Copyright © 2009, ( heartsandhumor at gmail.com ) -- {used with permission} ]

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