When I was superintendent of schools in Palo Alto,
California, Polly Tyner, the president of our board of
trustees, wrote a letter that was printed in the Palo Alto
Times. Polly's son, Jim, had great difficulty in school. He
was classified as educationally handicapped and required a
great deal of patience on the part of his parents and
teachers. But Jim was a happy kid with a great smile that
lit up the room. His parents acknowledged his academic
difficulties, but always tried to help him see his strengths
so that he could walk with pride. Shortly after Jim finished
high school, he was killed in a motorcycle accident. After
his death, his mother submitted this letter to the
Today we buried our 20-year-old son. He was killed
instantly in a motorcycle accident on Friday night. How I
wish I had known when I talked to him last that it would
be the last time. If I had only known I would have said,
"Jim, I love you and I'm so very proud of you."
I would have taken the time to count the many blessings
he brought to the lives of the many who loved him. I
would have taken time to appreciate his beautiful smile,
the sound of his laughter, his genuine love of people.
When you put all the good attributes on the scale and you
try to balance all the irritating traits such as the
radio which was always too loud, the haircut that wasn't
to our liking, the dirty socks under the bed, etc., the
irritations don't amount to much.
I won't get another chance to tell my son all I would
have wanted him to hear, but, other parents, you do have
a chance. Tell your young people what you would want them
to hear if you knew it would be your last conversation.
The last time I talked to Jim was the day he died. He
called me to say, "Hi, Mom! I just called to say I love
you. Got to go to work. Bye." He gave me something to
If there is any purpose at all to Jim's death, maybe it
is to make others appreciate more of life and to have
people, especially families, take the time to let each
other know just how much we care.
You may never have another chance. Do it today!