My meeting Sir Sidney Poitier was without the extended entourage, fine tailored suits and clamoring reporters we often see. It was not at the renaming ceremony of the Paradise Island Bridge in The Bahamas, nor was it during his guest of honour appearance at Oprah’s “Dinner of a Lifetime with Sidney Poitier” or President Obama’s honoring ceremony.
Rather, It was last weekend on the set of a video shoot for a new production by Regal Shine Films. We were shooting in a cemetery near historic Nassau in The Bahamas. However, the internationally acclaimed actor and diplomat was there for a completely different reason. His limousine quietly drove into the cemetery’s parking lot and after a few minutes, a small group of persons made their way towards us. It wasn’t until he was within 30 feet that I realized it was Sir Sidney, a few family members and a single bodyguard. I would also later discover that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the honourable Fred Mitchell, his driver, a press officer from the government’s Bahamas Information Services and a few others were present.
However, they, like us were not the focus of his attention. We would later greet him, shake his hands and listen to his personal words of inspiration. But right then, it was as if we weren’t there. Understandably, he had a singular focus. He was there to visit his parents’ place of rest. He first walked to his father’s gravesite and spent a few minutes in quiet contemplation. Then he walked the extra 50 yards to visit his mother’s grave and there he sat alone with the woman who gave birth to him 85 years ago.
My emotions were torn between the enthusiasm of meeting the man who inspired my father and whose cousin was my mother’s neighbor and the sobering sense of loss that he was likely experiencing. It was not the first time I had met Mr. Poitier but I can’t help but wonder if it was my last. It made me think about how fortunate I am to still have my parents alive. More importantly, the need for me to fully value them in ways that are clear to their understanding. Truth is, we can love someone all we want but if they don’t interpret it as love that meets their need, then there’s a shortfall.
In your case, my encouragment may relate to a friend, love interest or coworker, a family member or a complete stranger. Life doesn’t always give us that “second chance.” Make every moment count. What you do matters.