A couple quarrelling. Take time today to appreciate someone who does things you take for granted. PHOTO | FILE

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”

Jack was an ambitious young man who had completed university, had a flourishing business, a beautiful wife and child.  Life was so perfect for Jack that as he moved across the country in pursuit of his dreams, he had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son.

He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.  One day, his mother called and told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood.

“Jack, did you hear me?” “Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” he said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d recall the many days you spent with him, playing in his courtyard,” his Mom replied. “I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said. “You know Jack after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word and caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered it. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture… Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.  “The box is gone,” he said.  “What box?” Mom asked.  “There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘The thing I value most,’’ Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.  “Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.  “Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filled his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:  “Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most…was…my time.”  Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.  “I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet… thanks for your time!”

How often have you thanked someone for their time, the time of their life that they have shared with you, the time that they had you in their thoughts or deeds. Be it your parents, partner, friends, children or even your neighbour.

They say “Time and tide wait for none.”  You might keep thinking “I want to do something unique for say someone’s birthday, anniversary or any special day” but we are not even sure if they or we are going to be even alive to enjoy that special day, that special moment.

All of us at some point or the other in life, realize that we have missed out very many wonderful opportunities of life, to make someone feel special, feel wanted or feel alive.

Live every moment, love every day, because before you know, the precious time slips.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead thank everyone who has come into your life for their time. Take time today to appreciate someone who does things you take for granted. Be thankful, Live your life with gratitude. Build an attitude of gratitude.