Before Our Tickers Quit

Bill Teemley-mid 50sMy father died on this date, at age 45. From a heart attack. It happened two weeks after his annual check-up, where he’d been told, “Your ticker is in great shape!” They said that back then, “ticker.” They also said a lot of other silly things. And they got a lot of things wrong.

47 years after my dad’s death–two years longer than he lived–I look around and see how much they, i.e. we, still get wrong. We condemn each other for crimes against humanity that (whether right or wrong) were societal norms just a few years or even months ago. We assume that the worst things we hear are true. We fail to listen to each other, preferring instead to talk about each other.

And then we die. Before we can break the pattern and change our ways, before we can learn to listen, learn to forgive. I would give anything to have my father back, to finish the hard work of understanding that had only just begun when his “ticker” quit.

Shame on us. God forgive us and teach us to listen, to understand, to forgive, and to love one another–especially our enemies–in whatever time we have left. Help us to break the pattern of condemnation…

Before our tickers quit.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive yours, but if you do not forgive, neither will yours be forgiven.” ~Matthew 6:14-15

“The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.” ~Galatians 5:6

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Before Our Tickers Quit

  1. Sunday’s sermon at our church (I listened from home due to my “high risk” status) was about God’s mercy. We need to reflect his mercy as image-bearers. I liked this quote from Tim Keller: “If you were a hundred times worse than you are, your sins would be no match for his mercy.” (211) See Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy (Viking, 2018)

    I also often forget that mercy is much more than just “not giving me what I deserve.” I’m certainly thankful for that mercy. But mercy is also giving me what I don’t deserve: health, my own copy of the scriptures, a wonderful family and a host of other things. I need to be more-and-more conformed to his image. That, of course, means learning to forgive like I have been forgiven even though I don’t deserve forgiveness.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lesley says:

    I’m sorry about your dad, Mitch. This is a beautiful post with a valuable message. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Doug Reece says:

    I was 9-years-old when my granddad died of a heart attack on this date in 1958. My brother and I were sleeping in the next room. He was 49. Only 14 years years earlier he had been drafted into WWII. He was married and had two daughters at the time. He ended up in New Guinea but made it home ok. I still think of him every day. My goal has always been to live in such a way that when my ticker gives out my grandkids will still think of me & miss me 62 years later.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. says:

    I truly agree with you that we don’t always listen to each other. Instead we become so isolated that we can’t imagine anyone else knowing the truth. Therefore they become the enemy. Before we can say one word, we’ve been attacked. Words become more deadly than bullets and pierce the heart in a much deadlier way. We will never resolve any of the world’s problems until we sit down together and give the other guy a chance to talk as we listen. When it’s our turn, I would hope that the same courtesy is extended.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I tell my Muslim students in war-torn countries hammered by the extremists. “You’ve got to forgive your enemies for as long as it takes. Forgiveness is the only thing that stops wars.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. francisashis says:

    Your post is really nostalgic as the death of my father brings back to mind his immense love for us all and that I also wish if I could get him back for a day.Alas! It’s not possible.I know that the death of the head of the family is not at all an accident ,it’s because of our (my family members) selfish attitudes but we were safe so long he was with us because of his diligence and sincerity.May his soul rest in peace.✝️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the wake-up call. It reminds me of the rich man Jesus talked about, whose life was so off center, all he thought about was how to gain more and how to store it all. Then God said to him, “You fool, tonight your soul is required of you.” We are never guaranteed tomorrow.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. sniderjerry says:

    I heard about a man who, as an american soldier, survived the Battan Death March at the hands of the Japanese. Years later he owned and operated a Toyota dealership. Now that is forgiveness.
    Have a great day. Jerry

    Liked by 3 people

  9. oddmanout215 says:

    I was moved by your eloquent reflections on forgiveness and love, and your plea to listen closely to other people. However, I think it’s just as important to not turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. Crimes against humanity (slavery, for example) are always crimes, regardless of whether they are sometimes regarded as “societal norms.” Likewise, we shouldn’t listen to others to the point where we acquiesce in arguments that are insincere, corrupt and dangerous. (Guess what public figure I have in mind.)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A much needed and timely reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A good word for today. Some people ask a question and then just shout when the other person tries to answer. Here’s your question. I don’t care what your answer is. Discourse. It used to mean a conversation in which we got to hear both sides and ponder them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mark Johnson says:

    You have such great insights, Mitch. Thank you for this. I was luckier than your dad. Surviving a heart attack on my sixtieth birthday may have been the greatest gift of all. I don’t know anything about your relationship with your father, but I have no doubt he would have been proud of your kindness, creative talent, and ability to recognize and extract universal forgiveness from his memory.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. M.B. Henry says:

    Sad about your dad 😦 Thanks for turning it into a wake up call for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wise words, indeed. My husband just turned the news on. I should leave your post on my screen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Piano girl says:

    So true. We cannot love if we are not willing to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. numrhood says:

    matthew 6:39-40


  17. Imelda says:

    “Learn to forgive” is one of the greatest lesson we ever have to learn. We need that especially now when it seems to be the norm to be offended by anything and everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    I’m so sorry you lost your father far too young! And I completely agree, there is so much we are still getting wrong, and in some ways it seems to be getting worse. We just keep going deeper into the “them and us” mentality, looking for what divides us and refusing to recognize that all of us see and experience the world a little bit differently. We want everyone to share all our opinions, or we’re offended. It’s so sad….if we could just recognize our common humanity, and look for ways to connect, the world would be such a better place!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I too am so sorry you lost your dad at such a young age–the age when fathers and sons are just learning how to be friends. Your post prompts a prayer that I would listen to understand, be willing to forgive, and love those who cannot love in return. Thank you, Mitch, for sharing your heart and impacting ours.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. c.f. leach says:

    Great post! People don’t realize how important forgiveness really is. When you harbor unforgiveness you miss out on a lot of blessings you’ll never know were in store. Blessings and Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Kellie says:

    Great post, we truely need to forgive and to see humanity in all, great message.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. revruss1220 says:

    There might not be a more important message I will see today than this one. It is simple and straightforward, but seems so very, very hard for any of us to practice. Blessings to you today as you remember and celebrate your dad’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Tanya says:

    Valuable lesson, beautifully put!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ananda says:

    my father died at 55, when i was 25 years old . I am 5 years away from his age when he died and am beginning to realise how short his life was

    He was an entrepreneur struggling to resurrect a great company that had seen better days but was struggling through a bankruptcy . His elder son died a year before him . I had a seat at Cornell for an MBA and told my father i would probably not come back and he said go do whatever gives you joy

    But I interned for a year at my father’s company before i was set to leave for my post graduate studies . within 3 months of working with him, i was so inspired by his earnest effort and unshakeable calm that i told him i would definately come back and work with him .

    My father died 3 month later . it was the most important promise of my life . one that allowed me to grieve for my father without any guilt

    sharing a short post about him from those days . do read it when you can

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      The similarities in our stories are striking, Ananda. I also thought about how short his life had been when I reached and then passed the age he’d died at. I look forward to reading your post.


  25. boromax says:

    I appreciate this post. This sentence in particular resonates with me: “We condemn each other for crimes against humanity that (whether right or wrong) were societal norms just a few years or even months ago.” It reminds me of how people are looking back at days gone by – decades ago, hundreds of years ago – and tending to apply 21st century sociocultural sensibilites to what they THINK happened all those years ago. Sometimes what we think about history is probably accurate – based on reliable contemporary witnesses and chroniclers. But even then WE WEREN’T THERE – we cannot know the whole story, the true context, the myriad potential scenarios and rationales. Anyway, yes, it is most important that TODAY we love each other and give each other grace and mercy. Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

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