I choose to define a ‘regret ‘as something you wish you had done or not done, that is impossible to fix today or in the future.
One of my biggest ones was the afternoon my ex-wife called me. We were moving our house from the country back to Houston. I was in the driveway of our house trying to coordinate the moving vans so they could load up all of our stuff. We were all hot and under a lot of stress. My ex-wife called and said she needed to talk to me as soon as possible, she had a big problem.
I told her what I was doing and then said that I would be back in Houston the next day and would call and see what she needed.
I never got the chance. She committed suicide that evening.
Her big problem?
She needed $350 for her rent.
I regret that I did not take the time to hear her problem and assure her that I would be there the next day and would fix it for her. It would be ok and wasn’t any trouble.
I just did not take a moment to listen.
The other night, my wife and I watched a movie with Betty White called ‘The Last Valentine’. It’s a story of a young woman in World War II who marries a navy pilot and he gets shipped off to the war in the Pacific.
In the story, she is on the porch when the Western Union carrier brings her the news of his death.
It made me think about my grandmother. One of her sons (my Uncle) was a sailor on a Merchant Marine ship coming out of New Orleans in 1942. His ship was carrying aviation gasoline. They were torpedoed by a German submarine and sunk. He was killed and must have done something heroic since a Liberty Ship was built and named after him.
My grandmother gave me all of the papers and photographs before she died.
In the stack of stuff was the Western Union telegram telling her that her son had been killed.
I regret that I never had the chance to ask her about how that felt at that moment and what did she do when she received the news. By the time I was old enough to comprehend how traumatic this would have been to anyone, she had died.
She had been born in 1883. Had 3 children by her first marriage and lived in a mud house in New Mexico. Her first husband left her with the children and somehow, she managed to survive and made it to Texas where she met my grandfather and had 2 more children. He worked in a furniture store his entire life.
I never got a chance to ask either of them about their lives, loves and hardships.
Of which I am certain there were many.
My dad was a combat engineer who came ashore on D-Day at Utah beach.
He never talked about the war and I never asked. I regretted that I did not take him back to France on one of those D-day tours they have from time to time. I think he would have liked that. He has died as well.
The point that I am making is that when we have time to ‘fix’ something, a relationship or a misunderstanding we need to take care of it sooner rather than later.
Would I have given my ex-wife the money she needed? In a heartbeat, but I missed the chance, didn’t I?
Would I love to know how my grandmother survived the rigors of living on the New Mexico prairie in the early 1900’s with 3 children and no income? You bet I would.
How did my grandfather support a new wife and 5 children selling furniture in the 1920’s during the depression?
I was thinking this morning about how to write this blog and I can tell you one thing for sure; I don’t think my father ever said more than 4-5 thousand words to me in the 18 years that I lived with him. I could not tell you if he was a conservative or a liberal or what he thought about the country or religion or anything. He never talked to me. Could I have unlocked his mind and learned something about him if I had taken him to Europe on a trip? I’ll never know, will I?
So, the message for this week is to implore you to reach out and call that person, that friend, that relative and think about what you would like to know about them or their lives before it is too late to do so.
Make memories, not regrets.
See you next week.