By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

Most of us can agree that this has been a winter to remember. I read somewhere that if you’re really from the Chicago area you’d know what the four seasons are here in Northern Illinois: Almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction. After all, where else can you find folks wearing shorts and a winter coat at the same time?

The month of April reminds us that winter cannot last forever. Spring has the wonderful ability to help us feel like we’re alive again. Also, for many of us, April is a time to celebrate the greatest demonstration of victory and power known to man. Whatever your personal beliefs, or lack thereof, the Easter story is un-rivaled.

For me and my family, we also celebrate the birth of our grandson, Masyn, this month. Grand-parenting has been a second chance for me, a gift. I now have the advantage of hindsight and experience that were not available until my own children grew up. Life is very short. I know that now. I must admit that I was quite the busy boy trying to “save the world” while my own children were young, spending long hours away from home and giving much of my time and energy to seemingly endless pursuits – all for a good cause, of course. One day I realized that nature had taken its course and tomorrow was yesterday.

I’ve learned an important lesson since Masyn made his entry into our lives three years ago: How to truly live in the moment and enjoy the present without allowing the future to pressure me or the past to hassle me.

This is my life; it’s not a dress rehearsal. Today, this moment, right now is what I have. Yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow hasn’t arrived – and might not. When I spend time with my grandson, he gets my full and undivided attention. Of course there are the occasional emergency interruptions and unexpected events that pop up, but I have learned (the hard way) that I will not get this day back – ever again. Masyn is growing and changing just as fast as my own children did; just as fast as your own children are (and did).

Often, limited resources, distance and circumstances don’t permit as much interaction as you might want. A good rule to remember is that wherever you are, be all there. It isn’t always about the quantity of time you can spend, but it should always be quality of time.

If you have precious few phone calls, don’t multitask while on the phone or allow yourself to be distracted by errands waiting to be accomplished. If you only get to share a few precious meals together, don’t check to see what’s new on Facebook, send text messages or respond to emails while sitting at the table. We have everything and nothing at the same time.

You might think it’s corny or old fashioned, but it’s still just plain rude to be preoccupied with your electronic device while enjoying a meal or watching a movie with someone you love.