Last Sunday I attended the 90th Birthday party of a very dear family member. It is a huge milestone 90. It is a time when you can truly reflect on all you have done and accomplished in life and it is a chance for you to feel proud of it all, and at the same time give thanks to the people in your life for supporting you.
This man had done a lot in his 90 years… He had started an airline, been a farmer, owned businesses and even served in World War II as a very young man. The years have given him wisdom and while being surrounded by family and dear friends at this Sunday afternoon lunch, he gave a speech that highlighted five incredibly important lessons about life.
A friendship is only ever as good as you give
Clearly, this man had done a lot over the last 90 years. And that meant that he had moved around a lot, had experienced wealth and success but had also experienced being poor and alone. He hadn’t always prioritized friendship in life and this is something that he admitted but something he said resonated with me, “When you get to this stage of your life, you realise that you can count your true friends on one hand.”
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He went on to explain that over the years, he spent so much time trying to impress other people with his wealth and success that he hadn’t spent time creating real friendships. He had four very special friends at his 90th Birthday party and their spouses, and when it comes down to it, they are the people he was always there for and who he always gave his true self to.
You can count your achievements and accomplishments but the most important legacy is your family
Although he is still with us (mostly happily), he lives in a nursing home with his wife and his beautiful mountain top property and highly expensive car are left unused and unlived in. He noted that even though he has nice things, in another 90 years no one will know that he once lived in that house or that he once owned a nice car. What they will know is what the people with his name and his family is like. And he made it very clear that after all of those years, your family is the only thing that truly matters.
Material things might put a smile on your face, but they will never make your heart happy too (fulfillment)
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For many years this man admits to “keeping up with the Joneses” and he spent his money on lavish things like cruises, European holidays, beautiful jewels for his wife and things that looked pretty, but had no real value. It wasn’t until he was heading towards his 80s before he realised that these things truly didn’t make him happy.
Never leave it too late to give thanks
He left us with some words towards the end of his speech that really struck a chord with everyone in the room. He told us, “no matter what you do, thank the people that help and support you and give back to them, because if you’re too late, they won’t be there any more.” We weren’t sure if this was referring to friends who had passed away or to friends he had lost but either way, this is an incredibly poignant message to anyone.
What has been the single most important lesson someone has taught you? Tell us in the comments below…