Do you hear the timer ticking?

There comes a time when one realizes with certainty that there is a timer on life. I can’t tell you exactly when you’ll start to hear it ticking but be grateful when you do.

We all come face to face with our mortality. My brother died at a relatively young age from a terminal illness. Like many, he bravely accepted his limited time. John knew what he wanted to do in the months remaining of his life. He was an engineer with a list of everything. John worked hard to complete his tasks and leave this earth to see what was happening around the bend.

The longer we live, the more we slowly accept that we all have a list to complete, people we need to see, and things we need to say.

Dan recently suffered a heart attack. Richie is recovering from cancer. Whit had a devastating fall a few years back but survived. Patsy passed away before our last reunion. These great folks graduated with me from high school years ago.

I could keep telling you about friends who barely survived an illness or an accident and those who did not, but the pages are not long enough. The older we become, the more we notice the timer as it clicks closer to zero.

Now, that all sounds dour and full of doom, right? It may be all in how we look at it.

Furthermore, I like the timer. I am glad I see it, hear it, and realize that I need to live fully in the seconds that pass.

I never heard the life clock in high school with Dan, Rich, Whit, and Patsy. Time was endless in my mind. When several friends sadly died early in life, I would pause and ponder my mortality. Then life would return to the busy mode, and the ticking clock would fade away.

As the days pass, we long to see the precious people who have taken up time in our lives. There is an intense desire to share the depth of that love with those we love and how important it is to us.

The seasons of our lives bring changes. I wish to spend more time with my children now that I have more freedom to do so. However, they are in the busy season of life. Their timers are hidden somewhere under the clutter in their kitchens. They cannot hear the ticking because of the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. I understand because I was once in that season.

I also now understand my mother when she repeatedly asks, “Are you coming over today?” She longed to spend more time with her daughter because there was no longer clutter in her kitchen, and she could hear the clocks sweeping hands.

My brother yearned to find his buddies from school, lost cousins, and Navy shipmates from his service in the Vietnam War. As he neared the end, he spent his last days enjoying the faces of his family.

When my son lay on a gurney with a broken neck, he held my hand and urgently told me his wishes as he quickly orated a will. He saw the clock as the second hand moved at a rapid pace. Thankfully, God intervened and gave Corey more time.

Life itself is a rapid movement. We often take it and the folks who are a part of our lives for granted. As we age, we face the quantity of time we have left; we realize how valuable each second, each day, each person, and each breath is.

I recall, as if yesterday, watching Dan laugh heartily at a joke during lunch. It was only last week when Richie got me tickled in Latin class. Wasn’t it just the other day that Whit was snickering about something crazy I did – again?! Did I not recently see Patsy carrying her books and smiling at me as she strolled into class?

Today, I find those folks and my memories of them even more precious.

Yes, I am happy to hear the timer. I understand the noises that are important in life. I joyfully listen to the laughter of a child. I hear God’s whispers more often and see fortune as a miracle and a coincidence as divine.

Yes, we all need to check the time, complete our list, hug those we love passionately, and do so before continuing our journey around the bend.


Lynn Walker Gendusa is a Georgia author and columnist. Her work is regularly featured on and in publications around the country through the USA Today Network. Her latest book is “Southern Comfort: Stories of Family, Friendship, Fiery Trials, and Faith.” She can be reached at For more of her inspirational stories, click here

Print Friendly, PDF & Email