Mothers, Gratitude, Regret, and Wishful Thinking

Tomorrow on our cul-de-sac we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. A 24-pound turkey, Al, will not be thawed by tomorrow. Dinner may be late for our small gathering this year of 15. I am thankful to have a warm, welcoming home for 15 people to sit down together and laugh more than we cry -or drink.

My mother passed away this past Nov. 6th at 7:30 AM. My alarm went off at 7:30 and as I rolled over to hit snooze I noticed I wasn’t coughing up small hamsters from my lungs for the very first time in 3 months. When I stood up from my all too comfy bed I was hit by a weight of depression I hadn’t been experiencing for the last couple of months, so I noticed.

I got a call at 12:10 PM. letting me know my mother had passed away a bit unexpectedly. It was nice of her to take my cough with her. I’m sure it’s just a weird coincidence. But, still, it’s weird.

When my husband, the-very-patient-man, and I decided to have children I vowed to do everything I could to give my children a different childhood than mine. I succeeded and failed.

Now that one is in college and one a recent college graduate living her dream life in California, I have too much time to miss: their magical imaginations, shopping for their food and entertainment and education and positive reinforcements. I miss the few and far-between moments of my own mother’s attempts to do the same for me. My ‘nows’ are often made up of ‘thens’ and the wishful thinking that I could have done better, at everything.  I miss the way our life was, even in the midst of loving the way our life is.

I have regret. 

Mom and I shared a love of Erma Bombeck’s humorous truths. Deeply. We bonded over, The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and every other thing Erma wrote or said out loud.

This past Thursday night my very-patient-man generously agreed to see a performance piece of Erma’s life, “At Wit’s End” at The Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. A week and 2 days after she died. I was profoundly moved by this following bit of Erma wisdom. Regrets for the times I didn’t cherish being a mother, the times I abhorred my own, the times I was too self-involved to be present around the sweet people who cross my path.

This Thanksgiving I will be using my mother’s recipes and dishes that I’ve been using since we got married 25 years ago. I’m expecting a new wave of moments lost, and grief. 

This post is to encourage you to be like Erma and live your life as if it’s a gift, instead of a burden to be survived. I’m hoping to be grateful more than usual during this weird Thanksgiving. Try to take a moment to pull your now out of where you left it and be present where you live.

Erma Bombeck

“If I had my life to live over…

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

 

I hope you spend your time and your memories well. This is encouragement to live ‘now’ so you don’t end up ‘nowhere.’

I’d love to hear how you live with or without regret!

 


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