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Don't Wait -- Do It Now

I went to two funerals recently. I will write about one soon. But here are some thoughts.

When I go to funerals for Karate Sensei or their spouses, the other instructors and I always seem to shake our heads and say, "We shouldn't have to get together like this." This is true and sad. Karate instructors and students should be able to get together at other times than funerals. But aside from dojo events, association meetings or tournaments, there do not seem to be many opportunities for Karate people from other dojo, associations, and styles to get together... except for funerals.

The other thing is that people say such nice things about the person who died. Often, those outside of the family know so little about the person. We might have seen them from time or knew that they were married or related to someone we know, but that might be all we know. Then at the funeral we get to see photo boards covering their lives, from childhood until the time of their death.

People we only knew as "old", were once happy children, handsome or beautiful young adults, proud parents of newborns, business owners, grandparents.... Their lives were so full. Then we hear the eulogy and statements by family and friends. These great people had talents, these great people overcame hardships, these great people were examples for all of us.

But in their old age, we might have only known that they were elderly, or sick, or both.

By the time some of us get to begin to appreciate the person, it is too late. We cannot tell them that we admire them. We cannot tell them "thank you." We cannot ask them questions. We cannot look over their family photos with them, and ask them who all the children in the photo were with the model "T" truck. It is too late.

When they are gone, we can only think fondly of them and say a prayer for them. But it is too late for us to do anything for them, to ask them if they need any help, to take them to lunch or just take them out. It is too late.

What can we do for our elderly Sensei? Whatever we can do, we have to do it now. If we wait, it might be too late.

Do not miss the opportunity to tell your Sensei, "thank you." Do not miss the opportunity to ask your Sensei questions. Do not miss the opportunity to ask for your Sensei's advice. Do not miss the opportunity to offer to help your Sensei. When it is too late, you might find yourself at a funeral with other students and instructors, saying that it is too bad that you have to get together at funerals. It would be too bad.

Perhaps you can arrange to take your Sensei to lunch. If he cannot drive, offer to pick him up and return him home. If he cannot leave home because he has to take care of his elderly wife, perhaps you can offer to bring food for the two of them. You can do something if you give it some thought. I have learned a great deal about this from my friend and senior Sensei Pat Nakata. He is a true example of how we students can and should show respect to our elders.

Karate begins and ends with courtesy, which is the way of showing respect. There is nothing more important than the respect we show to our elders. Particularly in Karate, where would we be without our elders, our seniors and Sensei?

And, of course, we should be just as respectful and concerned about our own parents and grandparents, our family elders. As we do in Karate, so too do we do in daily life.

Do not wait until it is too late. Do it now.

And don't forget -- we will be elderly one day too. How we show respect to our elders may be the way that our juniors treat us. Hopefully that will be a good thing.


Charles C. Goodin