One of my good friends, Austin Baker, president of HRO Partners, writes "The best present is being present" as a comment on Facebook whenever it's someone's birthday. Although it's become something of a calling card for Austin over the years, truthfully, for us all, it serves as an important reminder of two things: 1) Life is short and it's indeed a blessing to have lived another year and to be here today; and 2) the best gift you can give someone is your undivided attention and love.
Both of these reminders hit me hard this past Sunday; and they have remained with me throughout this week. On Sunday, as I was at the airport, headed to Dallas, Texas to speak at events and to catch up with my parents who I hadn’t seen in many months, I received a call from Patti Phelps. Patti and the Phelps family, who own Phelps Security here in Memphis, are more than friends; they’re like family, so instantly I could tell that something was wrong. Patti went on to share the heartbreaking news that her husband and our dear friend, Lloyd Phelps, Jr. had passed away in his sleep.
Lloyd was a compassionate, faithful, and honest man who cared deeply for others. He was a protector of our community and passionate about his business; but most of all, he was dedicated to God and his family. Lloyd was a mentor to me. I admired his generous spirit and professional leadership; but what still impresses me most is the legacy he leaves with his three children, Alan, Jennifer, and Andy, along with their families. Rarely do you meet a family where the parents and all of the children have such high character, are so loving and thoughtful of others. As a parent myself, I consider this one of the greatest accomplishments and I say to Lloyd, “Job well done!”
So, the days I ended up spending in Texas with my parents became more special after my conversation with Patti. I didn’t visit friends, but gave my parents my undivided attention. I was intentionally “present” knowing that we have no promise of being “present” in the future with our loved ones. So, yes, it’s true that being present really is the best present!