Appreciate the Living, Not Just the Dearly Departed

Published on May 30, 2010

Something happened this weekend that reminds us all that we should not only appreciate the ultimate sacrifices made by our brave men and women fighting for our freedom, but also take time to thank the living and show our appreciation for all that they have done to help us achieve our successes.

The incident I am referring to is the untimely passing of the legendary child actor Gary Coleman. The child star of Different Strokes stormed into our living rooms in the early 1980’s, broke down racial barriers and touched the hearts of many with his loveable and sassy personality. Unfortunately, after the show Different Strokes went off the air, Gary’s fortunes came to an abrupt end and the rest of his life was saddled with financial and personal woes.

You may ask how this is different from all the other stories of child actors who could not smoothly transition into adult life. What’s different is not so much Gary’s story, but the untold story of how his loved ones wished they had repaired their relations with him and his wife before it was too late.

Gary sued his parents and manager for allegedly mishandling his earnings from Different Strokes. Estranged from his parents at the time of his pre-mature death on Friday, his mother told the Associated Press that she had prayed that “nothing like this would happen before we could sit with Gary and Shannon and say, ‘We’re here and we love you.’ ”

We have Memorial Day to thank and remember those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice. We have Thanksgiving to give thanks for all of our riches.

We have 362 days a year to thank everyone who has made a difference in our lives and to simply say we love you. Use each and every one of those days to give thanks. Saying thank you and showing appreciation while people are alive allows them to experience your true heartfelt feelings. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you are then forced to say “I wish I only said…..”