When You Hear the Call

Now that I am fully engaged in retirement, I am unencumbered by the need to have a business based “so what” to my blog posts. As much as I enjoyed my career as a business executive and owner, I am enjoying the new found freedom, born of retirement markedly more. I am not bound by concerns of what my clients or potential clients might think, especially as relates to issues of society, self, relationships and spirituality. Not surprisingly, to anyone who knows me, I have views in all of these areas.

One of the most meaningful challenges we all face at some point in our lives, but likely do not recognize, is discerning and then responding when we are called. These calls usually occur when a significant aspect of our life is about to change, yet we are so awash in the busyness of life that we barely recognize them, let alone give them the consideration they deserve. I believe these calls, at least the ones that matter, come from a higher power. The beauty of the calls is that they use multiple modalities in an attempt to get our attention away from the “important things” like emails from our job, Netflix, ESPN and twitter. I am reminded of a particularly poignant time when I stubbornly resisted the call, only to succumb and then experience one of the most beautiful events of my life. Allow me to elaborate.

Eleven years ago last spring, I was fully engaged in an executive leadership role at my Fortune 500 employer. It was an all-consuming job, which I thought I loved. It was everything I had worked for up to that point in my life- high salary, Board of Directors level, big organization, lots of prestige. The problem was, I hated it. It consumed my full attention and sucked the life out of me. At the same time, my beloved father was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and was a 5 hour plane fight away, in Las Vegas of all places. I was angry with him. Angry for his having that awful disease, angry that he refused to move closer when we offered to buy him a home here in Lancaster, angry that he was not available to give me the great career advice he always had, angry that he was no longer the dad I knew and loved. Angry that I had not seen him in six months…six months that really mattered, and that my schedule made such a visit impossible.

That is when the call came. Sharing this story with dear and close friends, they stopped me mid-rant and advised me, in calm and soothing tones, that I needed to get on an airplane within the next day and go to visit my father. “You’re crazy, I protested. I can not possibly get away that quickly. I have an important job with important responsibilities. No way. No how.” Still they insisted. Wes, Phyllis and Lynn. “You need to get on a plane and visit your dad.” I was flabbergasted. But I listened, reflected, prayed and then went. I heeded the call. To this day, I am not sure why.

When I arrived I discovered that my dad had taken an unforeseen turn for the worse and was advised to be placed into hospice care. I spent the first evening with him, up all night, talking, laughing, praying. Sometimes he was almost lucid, mostly he was not. The next day I helped move the gurney from his house into the ambulance for transport to hospice. The day after that I held his hand and stared into his eyes as he passed away. I was honored to be there for Dad. To show up for him the way he had for me on so many occasions. These were perhaps the most meaningful 72 hours of my life and I would have completely missed had I not heeded the call.

Now a dear friend of mine is facing such a call. I pray for his sake that he heeds it. Just as I encourage you to be attentive to the call, whenever it comes and however it is made. Have the courage to push aside ephemeral things and you just might be rewarded in ways you have never dreamed possible. Answer the call.

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