James M. Berklan

Dad was wise but never too pushy with the advice. I think he realized that’s how it gets better traction.

Maybe that’s why what he said is still so memorable today.

One of his chestnuts was to be sure to take time to enjoy what you have. One implication was that you might not have the same circumstances tomorrow. This was proved grotesquely prescient by the stroke that came out of nowhere and permanently paralyzed his left side at age 60.

But I think his greater intention was that one can always get caught up in greater ambitions, or worry about the next potential roadblock that might come up and forever lose the benefit of the moment at hand. I always felt this bit of advice was specially meant for me, and not without good reason.

As I write this on what would have been his 93rd birthday, I can think of no better parallel than to what nursing home personnel are experiencing right now. The news of the year — so far — is the federal government’s loosening of nursing home visitation restrictions on Wednesday.

After virtually a full year of lockdown conditions and isolation, long-term care residents can again see loved ones in person, collect hugs and start feeling a full range of human emotions. How wonderful for them.

And how wonderful for dedicated facility staff. You have been pressed into double- and triple-duty, acting as not only caregivers but also full-time surrogate family members, all while wondering if your own health was in jeopardy. To say it has been a stressful year would be like calling the Pacific Ocean a significant puddle.

While we’re not back to pre-pandemic conditions and visitations aren’t suitable in every instance, this is progress. Great progress. 

Of course reality intrudes and safety and strict infection control protocols are still the order of the days ahead. That’s essentially second nature by now anyway. However, there are also already worries about future funding levels, enhanced enforcement measures and staffing, among other topics, butting in from numerous corners.

But then again, aren’t there always?

Dad had it right: These moments should not be taken lightly, or for granted. We should enjoy them while we can, and hope for even better in the future.

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.