AS TO WHAT'S IMPORTANT......
The building in the picture is the Hyatt Regency Hotel, at the Galleria Mall .. a couple miles North of our home. It was built in 1984-1985, as I recall, and I signed the structural beam that "topped out" the building.
The Galleria is a large enclosed mall, spectacular now and even more so, 30 years ago. At the time, I owned Riverchase Business Brokers, one of my sales personnel had met the developer, and she got us an invitation to attend the Topping-Out ceremony. I suppose 100 or so people signed the beam, which was hoisted up while we were there, and bolted into place.
That all sounds like a big deal, but it really wasn't. Doubly so, for reasons I shall explain in a moment.
This past Sunday, we surmised, in Sunday School, what it would be like to reflect back on your life, as it draws to a close. And what we would really be happiest that we'd done. To prove a point, I told a lot of things I'd done in my life, and I'll recount them (and some others), to make a point.
Don't think I'm boasting ... most of the things were either dumb luck, or a gift from somebody else. So, in no particular order.....
- I recall walking the Formula One Race Course in Monte Carlo, with Peg, maybe 20 years ago. We'd won a trip there from an insurance company, and toured all Monaco, went into France and saw Cannes and other Cote d'Azur spots. Toured a perfume factory, went up the Var River Valley for lunch at Valberg .. high in the French Alps. Bought a model Ferrari from the Ferrari Shop on Rue Grimaldi. Attended a dinner party at the Monte Carlo Casino.
- Stood atop Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and gazed out, trying to comprehend I was looking at the South China Sea. Also went from there ... via Far East Jetfoil ... to Portuguese Macau, and thence North into Communist China, where we had lunch at the Chung Shan Hot Springs Resort. Took a walking tour of a village, and, by chance, Peg and I stopped at a house which Michael Jackson had visited not long before, and had the lady who lived there proudly show us the picture taken of her with Michael standing in her little home. I'd seen that picture in the media here, in fact. And, just standing at the waterfront by our hotel in Kowloon, gazing across the harbor, was unforgettable itself.
- Visited the Kehlsteinhaus ... Hitler's "Eagle's Nest", which Martin Bormann built for Hitler's 50th Birthday. Looked out over Berchtesgaden, went through the Documentation Center there, visited Dachau Prison Camp, went through the BMW and AUDI factories. Spent quite a while at 120 mph on the Autobahn. Sang "Amazing Grace" a mile up in a hot air balloon, over the NW face of the Bavarian Alps, with our hostess. At sunset.
- Saved a multi-million dollar program of my employer, by moving the program to a life insurance company headed by a friend of mine from the olden days .. when we could find no one else to take it.
- Invented a new type of insurance, inspired by what I'd seen at a Jewelers' meeting in Connecticut. Gave us a significant edge over our competition.
- One of my biggest insurance clients sent me a new client, who told me Dave had tears in his eyes when he told how I'd gotten him coverage in Lloyds' of London, when no one else would touch it. A record snowfall shortly after had collapsed his entire building.
- Peg and I have been on vacation in many places .. Costa Rica, St. Martin, Ste. Maarten (countries on one island), St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica (about a dozen times), Cancun, Cozumel. Went to Alaska and Hawaii, too. Note: When Peg first incurred Breast Cancer, we decided there was no use saving up so we could travel when we got to 65, as we might not get there. As we were married on March 13th, and her birthday is March 20th, we chose to go away that week for many years.
And other stuff I can't remember.
NOW: the conclusion. In class, I posed the question "When I'm lying on my deathbed, which one of all those things do you think I'll be happiest that I did?" The answer? None of them.
The things I will be most grateful I got to do? Things like the time I presented the gospel, in 1969, to the young Sunday School class of convicted juvenile felons at the Plainfield (Indiana) Boy's Prison. The time I shared how to be saved with Kori's family as I sat on a couch in their home. The Bible I bought and took to a little girl in Charleston SC. The time we sang praises to God under a huge picture of Lenin in the Pskov (Russia) Community Center .. .and people stood and shouted.
Stuff like that.
When you're in heaven, seeing remote places on earth won't have made a bit of difference. I imagine we'll be able to see whatever we want, from there. And the insurance programs I thought of and saved? Long since bankrupt and out of business. The businessman I helped? Died many years ago, his business bankrupt. The "topping-out" beam I signed? A couple weeks later, a tar kettle caught fire on an adjoining roof and thoroughly scorched it. I should have learned something right then & there......
Ahh ... but the young lady who prayed in that home, or the 6 juvenile felons who asked Jesus to save them, or the Word of God I gave to that young girl in Charleston, which God said would not return to Him void? Or the people from the USA's former arch enemy, who stood and cheered and praised God, as we sang for them?
Sure am grateful I did those things. I suspect I always will be.