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With Regrets

Regrets. All of us have plenty. Things I wish I would have done; things I did but shouldn’t have; some thoughtless, some ignorant, some with the best of intentions but turned out bad. What possible good would it do now for me to retrace painful memories? I do it for you. I would regret it if I didn’t.

I regret being inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Did you ever laugh anyone to scorn? Did you ever think someone was so brainless or did something so stupid that you derided them to the point of shame? I am embarrassed to admit it (and it was when I was much younger!) but I have. When I got laughed to scorn a few years later, I realized how much it hurt.

I regret not hugging my Dad more. I spoke at his twenty-fifth pastoral anniversary and hugged him then. It wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be.

I regret not telling my Mother I loved her more. She knew I did, but it would have made her feel so much better had I told her. Now that I love hearing it from my kids and granddaughter, I understand. She suffers from Alzheimer’s these days, so she can’t fully appreciate what I say to her. It would have been better years ago when she would have reveled in my expressions.

I regret not asking more questions. I rubbed shoulders with the best and brightest in many fields. Lost opportunities rarely come back around for a second chance.

I regret not learning Greek from my grandfather. He taught me the Greek alphabet and a few scriptures and phrases, but I couldn’t really communicate. The longer he is gone, the more chagrined I am at my failure to learn from the source.

I regret not getting recipes from my Mother’s cooking. Now, I can only reminisce about the tastes and smells of her kitchen. The Greek roast and the white cake with hard fudge frosting will never be a part of my children’s experience.

I regret not staying in touch with my relatives more. Having recently connected with some of my cousins after fifty years of silence, I see the tremendous value of relationships and communication. These are the things that increase the quality of life. I believe that the more quality of life that people have, the less disparaging of life they would be.

I regret not keeping up with my school mates lives. I thought myself too busy to take the time, and I didn’t think they would want to be bothered. Wrong on both counts. Every one enjoys hearing from a voice from the past, if only for a few minutes. I have tried to find them but have been largely unsuccessful.

I regret not reading more great books. Whenever I hear or read references to Melville, Tolstoy or Milton, I hear an echo coming from a cavernous empty room where the knowledge could have been stored.

I regret not writing down my family’s history while my grandparents were still alive. They knew names, dates and fascinating tidbits of knowledge that would have enriched my life. Besides, they would have been so pleased at my interest in their lives.

I regret not cherishing my mementos more. I didn’t know how important they were to the documentation of my life. Each paper, card, certificate, trophy or medal becomes a launching point for the re-emergence of vivid memories obscured by the passing years.

I regret not keeping my belongings more organized throughout my life. I always told myself that I would get around to it. I never have. (You already knew that, didn’t you?) Organization confers significance onto the details of life. Why do we think that the later years of life are more important that the first years? Those who pore over our collections after we’re dead and gone may attach much greater meaning to our younger years than our older ones.

I regret not disciplining my self to live on 75 to 80% of my income. I could have used the rest to save or give away. All of us have money regrets, but few of us have ever done much about it.

I regret being satisfied with my dreams and failing to make good on my visions. I have been obsessed with the “if onlys” of life that never materialized. Instead, I wish it would have done more with the “I haves.”

Of course, life is not all regrets. I am rich in so many ways (except, perhaps, monetarily), but life and God have been extremely good to me. Next time I’ll share the things for which I have no regrets.

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