As my husband and I drove to the second of three funerals in a week, I had an epiphany.
No longer are we routinely gathering with friends to celebrate weddings, new careers, or first babies. Instead, we’ve found ourselves gathering often with family and friends as we celebrate the lives of parents, grandparents, and other loved ones at prayer services and funerals.
Even our social outings have changed, as we’ve apparently reached the stage where it’s fashionable to discuss estate and transition planning over dinner with a glass of wine.
My baby brother would say this is all because we’re old, but he’s a brat, and his turn is coming!
Alas, the reality is I’m close enough to 40 to realize it feels like a mid-way point of sorts.
I’m not one to get wrapped up in numbers, and I’m certainly not starting now. Yet, I feel a new-found respect for the number of years we have on Earth.
My great aunt Mary recently passed away at age 91. She was a spirited, courageous woman with a deep love for family and a fearlessness for telling you what she thought. Mary’s beloved soul mate Bill died in 1992 after battling years of illness. While they didn’t have biological children, they had all of us Duxbury clan, their Godchildren, and dear friends.
In our close family, both I and our children grew up with Aunt Mary as part of our lives. We each have fond memories and our own connection to the sharp-tongued—yet grace-giving—woman we loved.
Aunt Mary never asked anything of us. She was independent and thoughtful. Her family mattered, and we all knew it.
A piece of advice I’ve never forgotten came from Aunt Mary. She once told me, “The best gift you can ever give someone, especially an old woman like me, is the gift of your time.”
I think we all know time is our most precious commodity; yet, to hear those words from a respected, loved elder carries much meaning.
Conversations focused on today’s ag industry buzzwords—estate and transition planning—need to happen. The blunt reality of living means we’re also dying.
However, I hope we’re all working as thoughtfully at living life as we are for planning death.
Time is limited. We all know it. Yet, with young children, full schedules, and multi-million dollar businesses to run, it’s all too easy for one day to give way to the next before we even realize it’s gone.
Ranching is hard work. It’s taxing on both the mind and body. While there are certainly times where ranching is also hard on families, it is an industry where family has the most opportunity to be celebrated.
Personally, I feel a deep connection to both my family and my husband’s family when I’m around the cattle or on the land they have worked tirelessly to foster. I feel our families’ roots in the soil. I see our families’ sacrifices, dedication, and dreams across each acre. There is pride, promise, and purpose in all our families have built.
The most precious component in all of it, however, is the time invested. That investment deserves respect, and one of the best ways to show respect is to give our time back.
I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by generations of hardworking, intelligent, and caring people. There are many milestones and living celebrations to be had, but there will also be farewells.
Though we have businesses to account for and tend to, our family is more than dollars and cents. We are bound by tradition. We are motivated by heritage. In short, our legacy is measured by the time we give each other.
As we go headstrong into one of our industry’s busiest seasons, I hope we also take time to listen to the stories, to share our time. Business, money—it all matters for survival, but to truly live, we need the human connection only felt when we give the gift of time.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.