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While You Still Can

I have a new framed photograph in my writing studio.  I wish I didn’t, but it wasn’t my choice.

That photo has a very special place in my heart.  We gave it to my Dad as a reminder of a special outing between father and son, the final baseball game we ever attended together, and a chance meeting with one of my childhood sports heroes, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns.  My Dad and I talked about that experience many times in his final few years of life. I encourage you to read the full story in A Baseball Game With Dad.

That photo, and the story behind it, meant a lot to both of us.  He hung it in his office with pride.

I’ll be forever grateful that I took the time to take my Dad to his final baseball game.

While You Still Can.


My Dad passed away on February 22, 2022.  I find it hard to write those words.

At the urging of Hospice, I made an emergency trip to say goodbye.  I’m grateful that he waited for me, and we had our final time together.  A special time that I’ll remember forever.  The last thing he ate was a few spoonfuls of a Wendy’s Frosty, always his favorite.  A few from me, and a few from my sister. I know he’s in Heaven today, and I look forward to the day I’ll see him again.  Yes, we had “that” talk while I was with him, and he was at peace about his journey.

While I still could.  

His final words were “I love you.”

I’ll cherish those words forever.


While You Still Can.

My Dad is gone, but the photo lives on.  

I had tears as I removed it from his office, but somehow it also gives me peace. It serves as my reminder of special times between a father and son.

After 58+ years together, I will never create another memory with my Dad.  The memories we made are all we have left.  A father/son relationship, like they all do, has come to an end.  The world feels a bit emptier as I write these words, but I have no regrets.

We made time for each other. 

While you still can.

That photograph motivated me to write this short post, to always remember the importance of doing things “While You Still Can.”  It is my hope that the words I’m writing today will serve as a reminder for you to do the same.

Sometimes it’s inconvenient, but doing the things that matter while you still can will lead to fewer regrets in your life.  Think about the things you know you should do, then do them.

While you still can.

while you still can
My Dad’s bookshelf, with a special photo, in my writing studio.

I’m leaving this weekend to return home for a funeral.

A funeral of a man I loved.

I’m glad I took the time to show him what he meant to me.

I encourage you to do the same.

While you still can.

101 comments

    1. Fritz – I’m really sorry for your loss. We’re all thinking of you and your family. When you look back to these posts sometime in the future, you’ll realize how many lives you’ve touched and how many are wishing you peace and comfort.

      1. Fritz,
        Sorry for your loss, May you and your family find comfort and peace in this very difficult time.
        Thank you for a very powerful reminder for all of us, While we still can!

  1. It doesn’t get any easier when it happens when we lose someone. However, we continue on with our lives. I have lost my parents, siblings, and spouse. I am the last. My dad has been gone since 1979 and I still miss him today. Brother in 1998 and mother in 2012 and wife in 2015 from cancer. I have lots of great memories of them all.

  2. Fritz,

    Thanks for sharing a personal and important part of your life with us today. My sincere condolences to your and your family.

    Bob Zerrenner

  3. I’m very sorry for your loss, Fritz, and will pray for you and your family as you say goodbye.

    I lost my dad the year I turned 40 (I’m 61 now), but I still have my mom, who turned 80 last year. I’ve definitely been aware, especially since losing time with her because of COVID precautions, of making a priority to do things for and with her “while I still can.”

    Peace to you, and may his memory be a blessing.

  4. My sincere condolences, Fritz. It certainly seems you’ll have great memories of your Dad to cherish, and I’m grateful for that. Peace and grace …

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for giving us this message, it’s probably the most important one in our lives and we forget it most of the time. Thank you and bless you and may you find comfort.

  6. So sorry for your loss of your dad. Thanks for sharing this emotional personal time in your life. I’m glad to hear that he was confident in his salvation and that you will see him again in heaven. That’s the best legacy he could leave his family. Prayers for your family as you go through the funeral service. Celebrate his life!

  7. Thanks so much for posting! My dad passed away 12/25/2012. It was tearful but I still have a peace about it having shared a Christmas Eve service with he, my mom, my wife, my sister and her husband along with our 2 boys. I still remember standing beside him and signing that night – had never heard him sing in my entire life.
    The barrister bookcase in your picture looks a lot like the one in my office – one that my dad and I built together from raw walnut.

    God bless you and your family!

  8. Fritz, thank you for this post.

    I lost my Dad 10 years ago and my Mother 1 year ago.

    Both had huge impacts on my life. I was blessed to be with both at the end as you were with your Dad …

    Blessings …

  9. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my dad a few months ago. I understand the sense of loss you feel now. You are 100% right. Our time is limited on this earth. We should do everything we want to do while there is still time.

  10. So so sorry for your loss Fritz. Your words ring very very true for me especially the “While You Still Can.”

    My Father insisted on estranging himself from me. Fortunately my sister – who he stayed close with – called me and told me to get to the hospital after a fall he took. I did so and stayed up all night, telling him about all the things I wanted to share over some 15 years…. He waited until I was done and then passed on. While I remain saddened 6 years later that we missed so much together, I did talk to him While I could.

    Blessings and healing to you and your entire family Fritz.

  11. Fritz, keeping you in my prayers. So very sorry for your loss. Grateful you had 58 with him. My dad passed away when I was 58 also. So wonderful you could be there with him and to say goodbye – for now. Thank you for sharing and inspiring all of us to do the same- while we still can.

  12. Fritz,
    Thank you for the personal post. Your words are always encouraging and I thank you for this reminder.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you as you remember and spend time with your loved ones. My condolences to you and your family.

  13. Hi Fritz

    So sorry to learn of your loss. My Father passed away several years back at 92 years of age.
    Glad to know that he is now with our heavenly Father.

    Prayers
    Paul and Susan A

  14. What a touching and important reminder. So sorry about the loss of your father. Making those memories while you are both physically and mentally able to share favorite activities is key. ‘While you still can’ is today, because tomorrow is not promised. Thank you so much for your blog and podcast.

  15. Fritz, I am so sorry for your loss. It brought back some poignant memories for me as my mom passed away in June of 2021. I was grateful for the opportunity to hold her hand and have “that talk”. May the Lord bless you with peace and happy memories. Rob

  16. Fritz,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May all the wonderful memories of the good times with your dad and the love and support from friends and family lift you up during this difficult time.

    I lost my mom nearly 2 1/2 years ago and still grieve the loss. It gets better with time and all the good memories help fill the void. The loss of a parent is very difficult, but we’re both very fortunate to have so many wonderful memories of our mom/dad.

    Take Care,

    Tim

  17. Fritz, I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. It’s great you had the opportunity to visit him. My father is in his low 90’s and his health is declining. I try to spend as much time with him as I can. When my father looks back on his life he rarely mentions finances or possessions but rather stresses family relationships.

    I am filled with so many great memories with him but also with things I could have done better. I guess we all experience this. In the end we’re all human and did the best we could. Sincere condolences to you and your family.

    Francis

  18. My deepest condolences. Today is a time for sadness and tears. Soon, I hope that thinking of your father will bring you mostly happiness and joy.

  19. Inspiration for others in a time of personal difficulty is something special… and you exemplify that.

    Sincere condolences for your loss and thank you for the poignant reminder.

  20. Hi Fritz. I’m sorry for your loss. My mom passed away a little over 2 years ago so your current situation is all too real. I’ve have the great opportunity to spend more time with my dad (90 years of age) over the last 2 years. In a way, Covid allowed me to focus on being together more frequently. We meet almost every Saturday and take rides to the “deer woods” along with eating breakfast with my 2 uncles. I’ll continue cherishing the time while I still can.

  21. You have my sympathy at your loss. But I am glad that you had and took the opportunity that was given to you to be with your dad as his life drew to a close.

    As someone who lost his dad (dad is more meaningful to me than father) over 10 years ago, I still occasionally wish I could have a conversation with him to gain insight and wisdom from his years of life experience. I suspect that you too will also occasionally feel the same.

    Keep the good memories close and be thankful for them. Think about your dad’s character and personality that you most wish you could emulate and strive to do so.

    I also hope that you will be more aware to recognize and take advantage of future opportunities to share special and memorable moments with others in your life.

  22. What a great legacy your Dad left and now you (we) get to pass that on. I think the pain we feel when losing someone so close is big is in proportion to the love we had for them. In this case the love is big. There is a reunion coming that we have to look forward to, so keep loving big, the best is yet to come. And oh yeah,
    your Dad is having an awesome day today.

  23. Condolences to you and your family. I read your note as I am currently working with a hospice nurse and caring for my Father-in-law. I lost my Dad 41 years ago when he was only 62 and three months into retirement. While I had many memories with him, we had plans to create many more but didn’t get the chance. I love that you had that treasured moment at the Tigers baseball game and the opportunity to meet “The Hitman”. Thanks for your reminder to do things while we still can!

  24. Condolences. I’m so happy you got to spend time with him at the end. (During covid not everyone had that option.). My sister and I were present with my mom during her final week in hospice (died age 95.) That week was a treasure. It was a good week.

  25. So sorry for your loss. Grateful we can take comfort in knowing we will see loved ones again. Praying for you and your family during this time.

  26. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. It sounds like the two of you had a very special relationship. I hope that the memories of all the good times you shared together will bring you comfort.

  27. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the wonderful post. Keeping you and your family in prayer.

  28. Thank you for sharing this. It has brought back wonderful memories of spending time with my dad, who died in 2009. He spent nearly 30 years in retirement fishing and playing golf in the Florida Keys and I got down to visit as often as I could. We laughed together often and he never missed having a rye old-fashion cocktail ever day at 5. It might have been the secret to his longevity — he lived happy and healthy up to the age of 94.

    My sympathies to your and your family.

  29. Condolences for you and your family over the loss of your Dad. It is such a special time when you know it is the last time you will see them.
    I so appreciate the way you share all aspects of retirement in your blog, including these tender type moments. May God continue to bless you in your writing endeavors and give you peace and comfort during this time.

  30. Sorry Brother Fritz…praying for strength during this difficult time. Blessings to you and your family.
    Thank you for writing “While You Still Can”…

  31. So sorry for your loss Fritz. May the many great memories provide comfort to you and your family.

  32. Fritz, This post speaks to me right now.

    I am currently in between jobs if not at least semi retired. I am currently looking to take two trips as I have not had this much time in over 30 years. One of them is a trip to spend some time with my daughter who will be away for a week or so on a work assignment and the other is a trip to the beach with my wife and I am trying to decide to extend it a few days on the drive home and spend some time with my parents.

    The old conservative me is of course figuring the costs. Gas prices could increase significantly plus the added hotel cost etc. Blah Blah Blah. I have plenty of reasons not to do it but you just gave me the most important reason to do it and for that I thank you.

    If the lockout ever ends maybe we’ll all go to a ball game together.

    My condolences for your loss.

  33. Fritz’s Dad was my best friend these last couple of decades. I often introduced him to audiences as “the senior faculty member at Hillsdale College,” including the last time he gave the college community his wisdom in 1998. He gave a remarkable farewell address, structured after Robert E. Lee’s memorable farewell to his troops, and never once in some fifteen minutes did he ever utter the word “I.” The humility and dignity of this good man set high standards for his children, and put awe in the hearts of his friends—and his thousands of students.

  34. Over the years, it was a pleasure to hear about your father and see your bond with him on the pages of this blog. Nothing is going to fill this void in your life. I am really very sorry for your loss. I hope your close and loved ones will give you the strength to go through this phase. I am sure your father enjoyed your love and company. May his soul rest in peace.

  35. Fritz, So sorry to read this news. I am convinced that he was proud to know that you are a writer now, and a good one. Peace to you and your family

  36. Fritz, what a beautiful post and great honor to your relationship with your dad. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

  37. Fritz, My deepest condolences to you and your family. This brought back memories of my folks and will serve as a reminder for the time I have now with my wife and sons. Thank you. Safe travels. Cheerish those memories. Have a frosty this weekend.

  38. Fritz, I am sorry to hear of your loss and pray for peace for you and your family.

    I have a great memory of my last baseball game with my father at Wrigley Field. He was a lifelong Cubs fan and unfortunately missed their World Series win by a couple of years.

    I had the good fortune of having two sets of parents and step-parents. All special to me and all now gone.

    What I enjoy is that I have my grandfather’s shingle hatchet for cedar shingles and my dad’s manual ice crusher from his bar………well, and his legacy of enjoying gin (straight) martinis! From my step father I have a few of his carpentry tools.

    I installed some cedar shingles on our home and the pool house I built and used grandpa’s shingle hatchet for a few of the shingles. The handle is cracked, but it has his thumb print worn into it so I will never replace it. I enjoy that connection the the past……….using tools that were used by my grandpa and step dad. And of course I think of dad whenever I enjoy a martini!

    I hope you have a few of your father’s tools in your shop to make that generational connection even though he is now gone.

  39. I understand Fritz and I’m sorry for your loss, I’m thankful God gave us the ability to have memories – those memories do heal the pain of the loss in time.

  40. Fritz, thank you for sharing your gift of wisdom.I love the pictures. Your dad looked healthy and happy in the pics. Great way to remember him!

  41. Fritz, many condolences. A hard time, to say goodbye to someone who loved and nurtured you, through good times and bad…,
    Remember the good times!
    The next few weeks, months will be hard, but time definitely heals.
    I remember my Mum’s last words to me, the day before she passed. I was laughing with her, because I was in my jeans, and I said, I was going to come in my work suit, but I was worried we would have a yogurt disaster! She knew I was on my way to attend my first non-exec board meeting, and her words, were ‘I am so proud of you’.

  42. My condolences to you. I can truly relate. My mom passed on February 11, 2022 at the age of 95. Though I know she lived a good long life it’s hard to imagine her not being here. I went to being semi retired in January thinking I could spend more time with her. Sadly that’s not going to happen now. Now I’m in the midst of planning her church service, burial and most importantly the party afterwards, some thing I know she would very much approve of. Again sorry for your loss.

  43. Condolences to you and your family from Tracey and myself Fritz. Your your beautiful “turn lemons into lemonade” style your message of “while you still can” is one that everyone can relate to. My mother is 86 years old and has been visiting us in Atlanta for the last 20 years — until Covid changed that. We are blessed that she is still with us and very healthy at the wonderful age of 86. Tracey just came back from the UK where she was visiting family, including my mum, while she can. In April she will be visiting us here in Blairsville, GA (your back yard) to create more memories, while we can.

    Thank you for sharing that critical reminder with us. God bless.

  44. So sorry about your loss. You are so right about taking time and doing something while you still can. We all tend to put things off as human nature. I’m sure you will miss your father as I do but we all know we will be together again one day. God bless you and your family

  45. Fritz,
    I’m so sorry of your loss. Words cannot be said that will provide comfort or ease the pain and hurt.
    As you mentioned and I will re-enforce the best way to get through this as I also lost my dad, a few years ago as well is to; let the hurt come out and know it’s ok to hurt, cry and be mad, talk about him to anyone that will listen and do it often as you can. Remember all the good memories & times together, all those conversations you had, and the advice he always gave. These things are what you can hold onto now. He will never be forgotten as long as you can do these things.

  46. Crying with you as I read your post. I’m very sorry to hear about your father’s passing. Blessings and love to you and your family during this difficult time.

  47. My sincere condolences, Fritz. Parents are so hard to lose. Both of mine are now gone. Those hunting trips, fishing trips, and wood working projects I did with my dad always be cherished. I was blessed with two wonderful parents.

    I’d like to share a brief story, that I’ve never shared with anyone, about my dad’s funeral. The minister at my dad’s funeral said something that burned into my memory on that otherwise sad day. He said, “Over the coming days, months, and years your life will move on. But there will be brief moments when a simple breeze on your cheek, or the familiar smell of a wood fire, or the sound of rain on your old cabin roof will remind you that your dad is still with you. He is just out of sight, but he will reach out and touch you with a familiarity that you will instantly recognize. You will feel the warmth of that breeze and his love all over again.”

    It has happened many times since my dad passed seven years ago. Maybe it’s just our desire to hold on to them. I really don’t know. I now quietly wipe away a few tears each time it happens, but I cherish those brief few moments whenever it happens because I know he’s just out of sight, but not gone.

    I’m guessing you had a similar relationship with your dad, like I had with mine. It sounds like they were both very good men. Cherish those brief moments when they come to you.

    1. My sincere condolences to you and your family Fritz.

      You are spot on Thom. My Dad’s passing is also coming up on 7 years on 3/20. There have been many moments since he passed when that sudden sense of his presence comes over me. The most recent was only about a week or so ago. These moments are always special, and like you, I wipe away the tears and smile knowing I will always have these memories of him forever.

  48. We are so sorry for your loss Fritz, our Prayers are with you and your family. “While you still can” is always an important message for one to keep in mind about life, it goes by so very quickly for us all.

  49. My sincere condolences, Fritz. I’m sure you’ll have great memories of your Dad, and I’m glad for that. Peace and “Bendiciones” ! …

  50. Fritz,

    So sorry for your loss. Heartbreaking post to write for sure.

    We had my father-in-law at our house under Hospice care, and my wife and I each held one of his hands as he passed away.

    We will be thinking of you during this time.

  51. So sorry that you have lost your dad. It’s obvious how much you loved each other and I am glad that you have such special memories. Your words are very wise, thank you for sharing.

  52. Fritz,
    Prayer’s for you and your dad as well as your family. This May will be two years since my mom passed and I know your pain all to well.
    I shall keep you all in my thoughts and prayer’s.
    God Bless,
    Greg 🙏🙏🙏

  53. Fritz – I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. My folks live about 1/2 hour away and I try to see them as often as possible. Sometimes it’s not convenient. Sometimes I’m not it the mood. But, I know our time together is limited and try to see them often!
    I’m glad you were able to share some great memories with your dad. Hang in there…

  54. I’m so sorry for your loss, Fritz. Your dad was a very special man–a great husband, a great father, and a great patriot (long live Hillsdale College!). I hope the fact that you and your dad had a relationship that most fathers and sons would envy brings some degree of solace to your heavy heart. My thoughts are with you and Jackie.

    P.S. I loved “The Hitman” too. What a warrior! Hagler-Hearns and Leonard-Hearns were two of the greatest fights in history. The picture of you, Mr. Hearns, and your dad is priceless.

  55. Very sorry to hear this Fritz…Sincere condolences and prayers to you and your family during your time of loss….And also a thank you for taking the time to write and remind us all to reach out to our loved ones….To take that often delayed special vacation….to make as many memories as possible….While we still can

  56. Fritz, so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for having the courage to post this important message.

  57. Fritz,

    My condolences to you and your family. Wise words for sure. Thank you for your motivating thoughts and wise words. May you find peace and strength in the memories.

  58. Fritz, thank you for sharing this note with us. I’m so sorry for your lost. Your post shows you had a beautiful journey together. Peace to you and your love ones.

  59. Fritz, so sorry for your loss but at the same time thankful for the relationship you had with your dad. Great memories!

  60. Fritz: My thoughts and prayers are with you as you walk thru this time. Thanks for another one of your timely and provoking posts. May you sense the nearness and comfort of God.

  61. I’m very, very sorry for your loss, Fritz.

    I’m also very happy for a life well lived. I’m going to see my dad tomorrow. While I still can.

    Thanks for the reminder of what’s important.

  62. Carol and I send our sincere condolences on the loss of a huge part of your life. Fritz, you will look back years from now and smile within, thinking on how often you visited your father when it wasn’t convenient for you or your wife to do so. We both lost parents recently and are so grateful we drove 700 miles roundtrip monthly for 10 years to spend time with them…while we could. God bless you in your time of sorrow. You have peace knowing you will see him again, in a far better world.

  63. So sorry for your loss. I am so glad you got a chance to spend quality time with him. Prayer for you and your loving family.

  64. Fritz, your father was lucky to have a son as loving and caring as you. I know he was just as proud of you as the rest of us are.

    David and Kathy

  65. Fritz, I understand how you feel. My father a retire teacher/administrator passed away 2 weeks ago. From all the articles you have written it is clear he had a major influence on your life. May God comfort you and your family as you say goodbye to your father.

  66. What a beautifully written and heartfelt post Fritz. Jackie and yourself have always had your priorities straight and you’ve made the best of the available time.

  67. Fritz-

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your Dad. What a wonderful tribute to an obviously great man who was very impactful on the man you have become. I have only recently discovered you and your blog a few weeks ago, but I’m already a huge fan and feel a connection with you as we appear to be similar and on remarkably similar paths. Please accept my deepest sympathies, and may your Dad’s memory be a blessing to you always.

  68. My condolences to you and your family. Spending a lifetime making family time a priority leads to many happy memories. Thanks for the poignant reminder.

  69. Fritz, condolences to you and your family. I remember watching Thomas the Hitman’s boxing matches with my dad growing up. What a great memory to share with your dad.

  70. My condolences for your loss.
    He waited for you, most don’t get that chance. Consider that a gift for both of you.
    May the pain of nostalgia replace the heart ache of a lost love one.

    The baseball outing photo certainly is special. Most people don’t get the chance.

    “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

    Moonlight Graham
    Field of Dreams

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