Christianity, Emotional Health, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Growing Up, Health, Hope, Letting Go, Neighbors, Prayer, Recovery, Relationships, Simplicity, Spirituality, Trust, Work, Writing

Looking at sixty…

I know everyone is getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July but my Independence Day began at 9:15 this morning. My doctor pulled my PICC line and I’m free from my little IV buddy. You all are probably relieved as well. No more having to read about me being under house arrest. I still need to keep the dressing dry for another eight hours. Then, I can officially sweat again. That should be easy as the weather folks are saying it’ll be another 100-plus degree day. I stand in defiance and yell, “Bring it on”. “Free at last”…

Since I went to the doctor, I didn’t get to spend much time on the porch this morning. It’s probably just as well. The heat’s already difficult to deal with and the air seems very still and humid. It didn’t keep me from making another pot of coffee and perusing the newsfeed though. Through the dissonance of all the Monday morning news I found one article worthy of attention. The headline was something like “The One Thing People Over Fifty Regret Most”. I emailed it to myself for later and then the link didn’t work. I truly regret that I didn’t read the whole thing first…

Anyway, I did some research and found another list of the fifty things people over fifty regret the most. I’ll be fifty-nine for another month, so I guess I still qualify. As I read I began to feel better about my emotional and mental health. Of course, it could also be sociopathic behavior, but I prefer to think positively.

According to the MSN Lifestyle section, the number one regret among people my age is “ending a relationship with someone you loved”. I was a little surprised, but I can see that. There’s something about ‘the one that got away’ that seems to stay with us a long time. That hasn’t been my experience though. My first marriage didn’t work out so well. It was mostly my fault, but there’s no regret there. I stayed single for many years afterward. I dated and had a couple of long-term relationships that bring fond memories, but I can’t think of any regrets. I did for a long time but five-and-a-half years ago, I found out that God had something (or more accurately, someone) in mind for me all along. I married my best friend and the love of my life. Scratch off resentment number one…

The number two resentment listed was “not being more adventurous”. If I have any regret about this one, it has more to do with being too adventurous in my younger years. Then again, I could easily substitute ‘being adventurous’ with acting stupid. That’s far more accurate. I did a lot of stupid, and often insane things, now that I look back. In case my look backwards becomes cloudy, I have aches and pains (and the medical bills) to remind me of the foolishness of my youth. Boring is much easier on the body. Every now and then I get a wild hair and think I’m twenty-something again, and I’m quickly reminded I’m not…

As I went down the list, I realized that recovery, a relationship with the God of my understanding, and the love of friends and family has helped me come to terms with what were once regrets. I won’t lie and say I have none. I don’t think anyone can be totally free of regrets, but they’ve become manageable as I grow older.

What really surprised me about the Top Fifty Regrets was that kids and parents were way down on the list. Even though a lot of healing went into my relationships with my parents and children, I wish the damage had never occurred in the first place. My father passed in 2002 and my mother just last year. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and I often wish I had been a better son. I’m a hardhead and I know I was a handful. So, I try to live each day in a manner that makes them proud. I’m not sure if it constitutes a regret. I’m sure they smile on me today.

I know most parents wish they had done things differently. I sure do. Unfortunately, kids don’t come with instruction manuals and sometimes they pay dearly for our struggles as parents. I know mine did. I’m not confused about that today. I’m truly grateful when my boys go out of their way to show their love for me as their often imperfect father. My oldest came by the other night with a belated Father’s Day gift, a picture of Roger Staubach and Tom Landry on the sidelines back in 1969. If you know how I felt about the old Dallas Cowboys, you’d know how much it meant to me. Grace is such a wonderful thing…

Thankfully, my regrets list is small, although I could really understand number thirty-four on the list, “being ungrateful”. It took a long, long time to find gratitude in my life. I wish I had been more grateful for the life God gave me. An old friend used to always say “you lead such a charmed life”. I was in my late forties before I understood what she meant. I do lead a charmed life, despite a lengthy list of bad decisions and deplorable actions. That’s why, for me, everything is about grace and gratitude.

I think that the deeper one experiences the grace of a loving God, family, and friends, the easier it is to be grateful. That’s been my experience and observation anyway. When I’m honest enough to admit my failures and find forgiveness anyway, I can’t help but be grateful, and that gratitude leaves me with very little regret. Go figure…

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