Songs that inspire thoughts of heaven

The Living Years – Song #1

The Living Years was written in 1988 by two members of the group Mike + The Mechanics.

Click on this Link to go to the song on YouTube

Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson both lost their fathers when they wrote this song which made it a personal endeavor for each of them.  This song is very personal to me as well because when I listen to it I always think of my father, Myles Druffel, and I can never get to the end of the song without tearing up and becoming very emotional.  This is the line that gets me every time:

I wasn’t there that morning when my father passed away. I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.

It was the morning of September 18, 2008 when the line of this song and my reality coincided, and I would never listen to this song the same way again.  My phone rang at 4:30 a.m. while I was still sleeping. My heart skipped a beat as I reached for the phone because I never get calls that early in the morning, so I suspected it was Linda, my step-mother, calling me to tell me my father had passed away.  My father was in the advanced stages of Alzheimers, and the family had already decided weeks ago that we would allow him to die naturally rather than having a feeding tube inserted into his stomach.  After I hung up the phone, it hit me hard that the living years on this earth were over for my father and all the implications that meant for my life.

I have listened to this song from two different perspectives with a pivotal moment that ended the one and began the other. 

The first perspective is looking forward to the next time I will spend time with him. Then after his death, the second perspective is looking back at the memories I had of him. The dichotomy of these two perspectives is stark and finite. All the more reason to be completely aware of how we are treating people during the living years.  It has now been nine years since I heard my step-mother’s sad voice on the phone, and time keeps moving faster and faster away from that moment.

My father was married five-times, but my mother was his first wife and the only mother of his three children. I was the middle child with brown hair and sandwiched between two carrot top siblings. My father loved us deeply but his need for approval from his mother and attention from other women weakened his resolve to stay married to my mother and be a fully engaged father with his children. When I was eight years old they divorced, and the separation I felt from my father was devastating. Even though my mother tried desperately to not talk bad about my father during and after the divorce, her hurt, longings and deep sadness permeated my heart and set the wiring in my brain to believe that men are to be idolized yet feared and to be loved only from a distance.

Me, my Father and my grandfather.
My sister, Joanne. My Dad, Myles. My brother, Michael and me, Diane.
My dad with my sister and me at my brother’s wedding.
Lian with her grandpa, Myles, in front of his Chicago home. This is the day they slept in the living room while I was wide awake.

My father was a rebel. 

He quit high school at the age of 16 and eventually started his own tuck-pointing business in Chicago because he would never, ever work for a corporation or another man.  He loved placing the mortar in between every side of every brick on brick apartment buildings to restored them to their original splendor.  He didn’t believe in banks because he didn’t believe in paying taxes, so whenever he would pay for something he would pull out of his pocket a wad of 50 and 100-dollar bills rolled up in a rubber band.  He sang like Dean Martin and would thrill people in the smoky bars with his piano playing even though he really didn’t know how to play.  He mastered the art of chord runs where his hands would fly up and down the full length of the keyboard and every song would end with a dramatic one finger point on a high key.

Towards the middle of my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and several years before his death, I experienced a very special moment with him.  My daughter and I flew to Chicago from Southern California to spend time with my father and Linda, his wife.  While Linda was at work, my daughter, father and I were sitting at the kitchen table listening to Frank Sinatra songs.  My father couldn’t communicate with words anymore, so we listened to him by watching his facial expressions.  Both my daughter and father became very tired so we moved into the living room.  For over an hour my daughter slept on the couch, my father slept in a comfy recliner and I sat in a chair wide awake.  While they slept, the Frank Sinatra songs continued to play in a loop and Frank’s words resonated down the long, hardwood-floor hallway into the living room.  I sat in the chair watching them sleep with tears streaming down my face because I realized my father had always loved me, so I forgave him fully of all the hurt he had caused in my life.  My heart ached because I knew in that moment his living years were numbered, and I wanted him to know that I knew he always loved me.

The Bible says in Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

That day, sitting in that chair, watching my father and daughter sleep, I cried and prayed to God that my daughter would never forget her grandfather. I prayed for Linda to have the strength to say goodbye to the love of her life. I prayed that I would always cherish this moment forever. Twelve years have passed since this moment in my father’s living room, and I still can remember every detail of that special moment. God has answered all three of my prayers.

The Living Years inspires thoughts of heaven because it reminds me of how short my time is on this earth. God blesses us with special relationships, and we can’t take them for granted. We need to be aware we are in the living years and not let one day slip by without telling those we love everything we need to say.
The choir of this song gets me every time:

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Don’t assume you have another day with someone you love. Pray to God that he will give you a heart of wisdom to number your days. To number your days is to not waste one day in regret, resentment and apathy. Love those around you NOW. The path to heaven is full of opportunities to love the people around you. Don’t waste the living years.

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page and in the comment box share a time when you were aware of the living years and you had a heart of wisdom to number your days.

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15 thoughts on “The Living Years – Song #1”

  1. That was beautiful Diane! Good thing I had a box of Kleenex next to me! Thank you for sharing A part of your heart! Yes , God Is love! We need to be reminded to love now! Keep them coming ! Very inspirational !

    1. Thanks joanne. So happy you are my sister and we shared this wonderful, complicated and beautiful father.

      1. You’re welcome! I’m very blessed to have you with me growing up! I wouldn’t have had it any other way!💗

  2. This is beautiful Diane! Unfortunately I didn’t understand how important it was to speak whatever was in my heart before he was gone. Even just “admitting we don’t see eye to eye” would have been something. It may not have changed his mind, but I should have given him/us the opportunity to agree about something. Thanks for sharing about your heart felt memories.

    1. I assume you are referring to you father. This song addresses the generational differences and how difficult it is to bridge that gap to to gain understanding, so you are certainly not alone in your experience with your father. You have done a great job in trying to bridge that generational gap with your son. Love you, Diane.

  3. Hi Diane,

    Thank you so much for writing this. I feel like I am currently aware of my numbered years on this earth and with my parents at the age of 25. However, having read this I realize that my perspective is very negative and too focused on what I am losing out on versus heaven and what I have to look forward to. I think of the numbered days with my loved ones as they and I grow older and instead of fully enjoying them I let myself become sad. This has reminded me to not become sad, but learn to enjoy each day for what it is. I know I too often lie to myself and tell myself I have tomorrow to work on my relationship with my mom or dad. I only have right now. Thanks Diane for your insight. This was definitely a tear jerker.

    1. I’m so happy this blog helped you to grab hold of what you have today with your parents and focus on heaven too. Thanks for being honest and vulnerable with your thoughts.

  4. After losing both parents my Father 1st in 1978 then my Mother in 1996, I also learn quickly that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Only eternal
    life in Christ. As we are aging now family and friends are disappearin from our lives. My Mother would say to me the older you get the faster the time goes.So true. In Ecclesiastes it says there is a time and purpose for everything’s under heaven. Let’s use our time wisely to Love and Encourage each other to love and good deeds. It’s a challenge to live in the world yet not be apart of the non sense. Keep close to the Lord in His Word and open to the Holy Spirit leading. God’s richest Blessings.

    1. Nina, that you for your beautiful thoughts. I have fond memories of your mother when we all lived in Hutchinson street. We are decades older than our parents were when we lived on that street. Time does speed up exponentially as we age.

  5. Hi Diane,
    To be honest, me recognizing my numbered days didn’t initially come from losing someone. It first came to my attention in my late teens and early 20’s when I had multiple near death experiences due to substance abuse and reckless choices. Coming so close to death, I would lay in bed and wonder where that would leave my family. Already, my mom would cry every night from not knowing where I was for months on end. I was 21 when I realized that I’m not indestructible, and could go to bed and not wake up at any day. The thought of what that would do to my family tore me apart. Although living that lifestyle and watching many friends pass away from over doses and poor choices, it was God helping me understand that my fate could be the same as theirs, and my loving family would be forever changed due to my selfishness. It’s been 4 years since I’ve made the decision to to not live for myself and to try my best to make the most of every encounter I have with people. Thank you so much for taking the time to write something so important, and something we should think about every day.

    Ephesians 5:15-16
    15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

    1. Wow. Kelsey thank you for sharing what it took for you to number your days and gain a heart of wisdom. You have come a very long way in the past 4 years. I see you as a wise and spiritual woman of God. Your past will help many women who struggling to overcome substance abuse.

  6. Hi Diane!
    So good to hear from you from Bend, Oregon! Also great to learn about your deep, kind & creative thoughts in writing.
    Thank you so much for not procrastinating in writing this.
    I love & Appreciate your gentleness, Respect & forgiveness to your Dad.
    Thank you for reminding us these, and to make the most of this Opportunity to express our love for our parents (& those in our lives) Now.
    I’ve been thinking about my parents lately, and I need to just repent & call them, even if they don’t call me. They go back & forth in PI & OC, and we all make excuses not to pick up the phone and call each other. But, I too only have my Dad who has Parkinson for a little while. So I need to just be the one to reach out to them, first, even if it’s again & again. I love both my parents, and have already told them how much I love & appreciate them. But, I can’t say that I’m making the most of every opportunity to remain connected to them, while & when they’re an Ocean away.
    Again, Thank you for your beautiful love for God, your father & your family.

    Take care & keep up the Great Writing!

    Jackie Gonzalez

    1. Jackie, thanks so much for your beautiful and touching thoughts about your parents and your father’s condition. I do hope and pray you can continue to have some very special moments with your parents that you will cherish forever.

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