I have to come right out in the open and make a confession. I have been chronically late my whole life. I overslept and missed the school bus in middle and high school at least 20 times. I was late to my SAT exam. I was late to many of my college classes. I was late to my job at GE and it got worse the longer I was there. I have been late to cleaning appointments and estimates. I have been late just about every Sunday for church. Why am I always late? It's my mom's fault! You didn't see that one coming from the podcast host! All of the admissions of lateness were the ones in my control. Let's turn the clock back to elementary school. I missed the bus several times because my mom couldn't get out of the house in time as she had to drive me. Not only did I miss the bus, but my mom would follow the bus to the next stop to put me on. That was humiliating to have 15+ gawking kids waving and laughing at me from the back of the bus. My mom was RIGHT behind it! I was late to Kindergarten and this was double lateness. My mom dropped me off at my Aunt Donna's apartment on her way to work. Aunt Donna was supposed to take me to school an hour later. However, Aunt Donna liked to sleep and I got to watch a lot of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. That's when I knew I'd be really late to Kindergarten as it was only a half day. Then there were the days that I got to watch the Price is Right while Aunt Donna slept. Those were the days that we'd pull into school and my friends were being dismissed. I have no idea how I passed Kindergarten! I was late to every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other family get together with my mom's side. We'd typically show up 2-3 hours late. It got to the point that my grandfather (mom's dad) would tell his daughter (my mom) that the gathering was 2 hours earlier to get her there on time. He affectionately called this "Lynn Time" (my mom's first name). We'd still be an hour late. I was early once. The story is told that my mom gave birth to me in the hallway while my dad was getting his hospital gown on.
As you can see, I have a long and rich track record of being late. I adopted this from my mom. I was joking that it's my mom's fault. At any point in my life I could have taken full responsibility and made the decision to be on time. The truth bears out. Being on time has not been a priority to me. My wife is the complete opposite. She hates being late and my history frustrates her, especially with church and family events. That all changed on November 22, 2020. My other grandfather (dad's dad), Ken Carfagno Sr passed away. He was my Pop-Pop. I've told this story many times on this podcast and honestly it's helped me tremendously with the grieving process. For the remainder of this podcast, my goal is to speak to the chronically late and see if I can't wake you up.
My Pop-Pop built me a clock when I was born. It faithfully ticked and chimed by the hour for all the years of my childhood. It's a an awesome clock. My clock! I used to ask him about the clock and he would tell me. "Kenny, I built that clock when you were born. It's yours. But you don't get it until I croak." This was a running joke, but everyone in the family knew that the gorgeous grandfather clock was Little Kenny's (that's me as a kid). I always thought it was amazing that my grandfather built me a grandfather clock. My Pop-Pop croaked (as he would say) on November 22, 2020. I brought my clock home in February and set it up in our dining room. Looking at my clock in my house was depressing. I would think. "It's not supposed to be here. He's supposed to have it still. He's not supposed to be gone so soon!" Somewhere along the grieving process, I prayed for help and dreams. God answered. I won't share the full dream, but I can tell you it was so real that I can still see and feel it. I got to see my Pop-Pop in his 50's and full of life. I got to hug and kiss him multiple times in the dream. It felt as real as the actual hugs and kisses I had with him alive. The last part of the dream was fascinating. I was in the car with my dad, who was dropping me off to a train station. We arrived at 8:00 am as we were supposed to meet Nana & Pop-Pop before I set off. I asked my dad. "Do you think they'll be here?" He replied. "They'll be here. Pop is never late; being on time is important to him." Sure enough he was there at 8:00 on the DOT. I ran to them and hugged my Nana & Pop as I woke from the dream.
I had prayed for an experience in my dream with my Pop-Pop to help me in my grieving. God gave me what I asked for and something else. He convicted me about being on time. I awoke feeling guilty about how late I have been in my life. How could I not notice that my Pop-Pop, the man that taught me how to be a man, valued punctuality?! How could I miss that? I was so engrained in being late from being around it with my mom that I missed it. I shared this dream with my wife and my friend Billy for clarity and prayer. Billy's response was profound. "Ken, he built you a clock! Of course being on time was important to him and the clock is the symbol of that trait he held." I started seeing clocks everywhere, hearing chimes, and in some connection to looking at old pictures or recorded voice mails. The message was being received loud and clear. I need to make a change. I need to become a person of punctuality to honor my Pop-Pop's legacy and please my wife. One of the days after the dream, I looked up the term grandfather clock and was astonished. There was a song written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work called "My Grandfather's Clock". Standing timepieces were nicknamed grandfather clocks from this point forward. Check out the first verse and chorus.
My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor
It was taller by half than the old man himself
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born
And was always his treasure and pride
But it stopped, short never to go again
When the old man died
Ninety years without slumbering
His life seconds numbering
It stopped, short never to go again
When the old man died
This grandson admired his grandfather and his grandfather's clock. If you follow the other verses, the clock was reliable. Yet it slowed down and sped up at key points in the old man's life. It started ticking when his grandfather was born and stopped ticking forever after 90 years when his grandfather died. I connected so much with this song, the dream, everything. I emerged from this stronger and desiring to be better in this area of my life. I realized for the first time that it's selfish to be late. It shows that you don't value other's time. Being late looks bad on your personal and professional image. Being late makes you do things faster and often increases frustration and tempers. Being late causes accidents and, unfortunately, fatalities. In my case, being late tells my Pop-Pop's legacy that I dishonor him. I didn't want to be late anymore. What about you? Are you chronically late? You can change. It's not too late!
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