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January 06, 2018 Saturday 02:46:44 PM IST
The Stuff that Life is Made of

Oliver Barrett was the son of a blue-blooded multimillionaire while Jennifer Cavilleri was the daughter of a run-of-the-mill baker. When they fell in love with each other he was a student at Harvard University while she was studying music at Radcliffe College. Oliver’s father was dead against his son getting married to a baker’s daughter. He even threatened to disinherit Oliver if he ever got married to Jennifer.

After graduating from college, Oliver, however, married Jennifer forfeiting his father’s vast business empire and a huge inheritance. Oliver continued his studies at Harvard to become a lawyer while Jennifer taught at a private school to support them. When Oliver completed his studies, he landed a job in New York and the couple moved there. 

Their life in New York was tranquil and soon they decided to have a baby. But Jennifer was unable to conceive which forced the couple to get medical help. During medical examination it was discoveredthat Jennifer was suffering from leukemia and that she had had only a few months left to live!The two young people were stunned.

It had always been Jennifer’s dream to study music in Paris. To make her happy, Oliver decided to take Jennifer to Paris and came home with two plane tickets. When he showed her the tickets she said, “I don’t want Paris, I don’t need Paris. I just want you.” “That you got, baby,” Oliver comforted her. Then tightly embracing Oliver she said pleadingly, “And I want time, which you can’t give me.”

No, Oliver could not give any more time to Jennifer even though he tried his best by getting the most expensive treatment for her. Jennifer succumbed to leukemia soon as accurately predicted by her doctors. And this tragic story in Erich Segal’s award-winning novel, Love Story ends with Oliver’s reconciliation with his father.  

As we enter another New Year we may have internalised the feeling that we have plenty of time ahead of us to find success and make our lives happy. It is true to a certain extent. But it doesn’t mean we can squander our precious time because as American author and inventor Benjamin Franklin said, “Time is the stuff that life is made of”. He also said he never met a successful person who didn’t value his time.

Unless we value our time and use it judiciously by setting proper goals in our life and working hard for their realisation, a time will come when we will be forced to say like Jennifer, “I want time”. In the case of Jennifer she didn’t waste her time. On the contrary, she always made use of her time appositely by studying well, working hard, and supporting her family. But leukemia hit her like a bombshell and there was nothing she could do about it. However, she could die with the satisfaction that she never frittered away her time for no reason.

Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) was the Prime Minister of France under King Louis XIV. While he was on his death bed he was told the king was on his way to visit him. “Please ask him to leave me alone to die in peace,” Colbert said to his attendants. “If I had toiled for God as I had toiled for him I could have died with better peace of mind.”

It was when Colbert came face to face with death he remembered he should have spent his life also for better things other than slavishly serving his king. But it was too late for him to do anything about it other than ask God for pardon. If we are able to spend the time given to us for noble purposes and not for ignominious goals and shameful things, then when our time comes to die we will definitely die in peace.

Time is one of the greatest gifts given to us by God. Unfortunately, it often becomes the gift worst used by us. Therefore,as we enter the New Year let us make sure that we never misspend precious time. Instead let us strive to utilise our time to the best of our ability and do great and noble things for the good of mankind. 


Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI


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