IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER...
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would rake fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments. If I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to hate nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall, I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
—Nadine Stair and Elizabeth Lucas
Almost everyone at sometime has lamented, "If I had my life to live over..." followed by statements of sometimes trivial and sometimes serious life changes envisioned. The changes in my life which came to mind after reading this meditation again recently were not monumental and would not have changed the course of my life; however, I do feel in retrospect I would weave in and weed out some things of the past based on resetting—or at least considering more carefully—priorities.
Many of my thoughts pertain to busy times while the children were growing up. I have no doubt of my enjoyment of the years but precious moments no doubt escaped. Recently as I sat in my car watching a young mother hastening down the street holding the hand of a wee one while he struggled to maintain the mother’s pace, I thought, "How often did I as a parent and do parents today let the child set the pace?" I remember trips to town and to the grocery store keeping three in tow with an attitude more of frustration rather than joy as it should have been. The desire to get things done too often was in control.
In thinking back, I would place less importance on housekeeping. As good, clean, and cool as it felt to walk on the freshly mopped unfinished hardwood floors in the 16-foot-square rooms of the old house, now I would let up a bit—or maybe a lot —on the dirt tracked in by a farmer husband and three little people, their friends, and dogs on their own special missions. I would be a more frequent and a more gracious guest in the playhouse for a make-believe coke and cake or pie. I would appreciate more the wilted and dried bouquets of bitter weeds placed carefully on a table made of an upturned bucket. [I know about lovely little playhouses made by specifications—at times even being a smaller version of family house-sat our playhouse was one of the movable cotton pens from the fields which Don had pulled up under the pecan tree. He cut a window and I found curtains. Walls were covered first with cardboard then wallpaper—which was really just heavy building paper which went quite well with the patchwork floor created with scraps of linoleum. One of its best features was the divided door, adaptable to the many plans and schemes. I remember the moment early in the development of the playhouse when Granddaddy Waller spied the house as he walked through the yard and inquired of Don how he expected the cotton house to work with a window. Don replied with a question, "Daddy, do you really think this will ever go back to the field?" The children and I waited nervously the outcome of this conversation. Though we knew Granddaddy Waller was always in their corner, perhaps this time we had gone too far. But the playhouse was declared a success by all concerned and experienced many hours, days, and even years of occupancy.]
Oh! to relive the nights when I rushed the children through bedtime stories and prayers. I was there physically but usually eager to move on to other tasks, not taking time to really listen and enjoy as they recalled the activities of the day and thinking their prayers as they blessed and blessed would never end—not appreciating their joy in having the opportunity of being the one to speak. I was often preoccupied with plans to lay out clothes for the next day, straighten the house, perhaps sweeping the floors a bit, and finishing chores carried over from the day. Was preparation for tomorrow and tidying up from the past more important than the precious moments of good nighting? Was folding so carefully each towel, bath cloth, and dish towel more important than carefully emptying a little boy’s pockets to learn what had had his attention that day? [I am reminded that my mother told me how Aunt Ruby Houston laid a Sears catalog in a chair to keep it from tilting when her little boy James hung his overalls on the chair.]
Surely I should have been less concerned about tasks and more concerned about the reactions of those around me. My children like to remind me of how I had them to sweep the house—even the porches—and take out garbage each Sunday morning. I tell them it was character building, and I think as I look at them today it didn’t hurt, but perhaps it was more a mother’s obsession, an obsession brought about by fear during the early years of marriage of not being perceived as a good wife and mother by family and friends. In a discussion with Beth as I began thinking on this subject for the newsletter, Beth said she would never be as driven by tasks as I had been.
If I had a chance at the early years again, I would smile more. I have been trying to work on this now. Recently I smiled as I waited for a lady to come out the door of a department store. She stopped, looked at me, and said that my smile was wonderful. I thought she must not have had many smiles that day. Her remark impressed me. I decided I would just smile more that day. The results were interesting. Obviously some people had not had a smile for a long time. Too, some may have smiled to themselves in amusement at that old lady walking around smiling at nothing.
If given another chance, I would laugh more. A big overflowing laugh seems so relaxing and I envy those to whom laughter comes so readily and heartily. Laughter is music to the ears and medicine for the soul.
I wish I had read more good books through the years. Greg Brewer at Promises and Praise Bookstore recently expressed surprise that I had never read Pilgrim’s Progress, and there are many other classics I never got around to reading. Now the distraction of the inner-ear noises makes concentration difficult.
Also now I long to be able to recall favorite scriptures and poems. When I could have committed them to memory, I did not.
Never become slaves to positions in the church and community life as their mothers had.
Judging others too quickly is another of my regrets. Just recently I told Don I was really having problems just being with a certain person for even brief periods. That same day in a group the conversation developed into a discussion of certain Biblical teachings and this person revealed herself to be one of the most humble, but best informed and obviously devout Christians I have encountered. How I chastised myself and made resolutions for the future!
Among my other regrets are times when I have been consumed by anger. The aftermath of these times has always been painful. Living again, I would seek to have more self-control and to be slower to anger.
Times of mishaps, disappointments, and sadness have come to me as to most of God’s children. Although I would like to think that those bad times were beyond my control, I know this is not altogether true. My own weaknesses and lack of foresight have been contributing factors in things gone wrong, and I am answerable for weak responses at times. Important to consider is whether or not I learned or was strengthened by bad occurrences.
I still live daily by a list—but I am trying to keep it shorter. In earlier years I had "must-do" and "should-do" lists. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight my "should-do" list would disappear entirely. I would try to travel less encumbered by practical baggage.
I try not to be overly concerned about past choices—I did indeed make decisions that at the time seemed right. The important thing seems to be to use the lessons of the past to make present choices. I try not to be overly concerned about the future. I try to live with God’s guidance each day as it comes.
The words of the hymn "More Like the Master" express the longing of my heart. Had I and could I live more like the Master many problems would not have occurred in the past and would be avoided in the future.
I am glad you chose to read the newsletter, and I hope that these thoughts might lead you as I have been led—even now, this late in life—to "pick more daisies."
Bob and Beth Rosson, along with their children Sally Kate and Brett, attended the National Funeral Directors Association Summer Seminar July 11-14 in Branson, Missouri. The seminar, entitled "Families in Funeral Service, " was designed to help funeral directors identify the stresses in their professional lives and deal with the effects of those stresses on their families.
Topics such as family communications and problem solving were discussed by funeral directors and members of their families in special sessions designed for each group. All attendees, parents, and children, learned wellness and healthy lifestyles.
Waller Funeral Home is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, which is the largest funeral service association in the world. The association, which has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provides standards, seminars, publications, and other assistance in maintaining quality funeral homes.
RESOURCE CENTER UPDATE
Preparation of the Resource Center at the funeral home continues. Material has been assembled to help you in coping with personal needs—whether personal illness, critical illness of a loved one, grief for the loss of a loved one, or any of the other personal problems that arise in the course of our lives—and you can borrow materials whenever you think they might be helpful to you. We plan to continue adding to the materials available and also to fulfill our plan to have brief reviews of the material available to make selection easier.
TEENS GET SPECIAL HELP DEALING WITH GRIEF
By Mara Reinstein
"This is so weird," my friend whispered to me through her tears.
"I know," I responded.
We were at the funeral of a schoolmate who was killed in a car accident.
Although I didn’t know him well, I was shocked when I heard the news. It was so hard to believe that someone my age was dead.
Sure, teens are regularly exposed to death. Everything from the deaths of young men in Life Goes On and Dead Poets Society to the zombi-themed My Boyfriend’s Back serves as a reminder that nobody’s immortal — sadness, denial, anger. Why did this happen? What should I say to his parents? How should I react at the burial?
These emotions are perfectly normal, however, says Janet Bode, author of Death Is Hard to Live With:
Teenagers Talk About How They Cope With Loss, and David Techner, a funeral director who helps kids handle grief.
"Everybody handles death differently," says Bode. ‘You must create your own new normal that will help you adapt to the death." Bode, author of several non-fiction books for teens, lectures regularly at schools across the country.
"Teens have an especially hard time dealing with death," she explains. "It’s hard for them to cope with the reality that there’s a beginning and an end to life."
"A lot of teenagers aren’t sure of a ‘correct’ way to express emotions," she continues. "But there is no correct way. It’s OK to feel pain or rage."
Bode says teens are unsure of how to grieve. "Everybody grieves in different ways."
Techner, who is funeral director at the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield, Michigan, speaks to teens in Metro Detroit schools on how to handle the death of a friend. He says there is no limited amount of grieving time. "It’s all right to get used to it, but not to get over it."
According to Techner, many teens have a problem facing the parents of a dead friend. "Teens think they don’t have ‘permission’ to talk about the parents’ dead son or daughter," he says. "But they need to realize that the parents enjoy reflecting and keeping their memories alive."
THE PAIN OF DEATH, THEN PEACE
A friend of mine was describing the loss of her husband, nearly 25 years ago. She loved him so dearly that she still feels the pain. "When he died," she told me, "I was devastated. I was angry at God. I didn’t want to see anyone. I spent nearly a month in bed, lost about 20 pounds. Wouldn’t get up to dress or eat. Then one night, I felt arms of love and assurance. A peace came over inc. God was reaching out to me in the night, even though I held this bitterness toward Him.
The next morning she got up, showered, dressed, and ate a normal breakfast. Other members of the family were surprised by this sudden change. She regained her weight and the depression left her.
As she recited these details, two or three thoughts came to my mind. First, that God sometimes reaches out to us, even when we turn our backs on Him. Second, I thought of David in the Old Testament who grieved and fasted and prayed for his infant son, who was ill. When the baby died, David surprised his servants by washing himself and eating. His explanation: "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:25).
Last, I thought of Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Eventually, death comes to every home. Depression and grief are normal. But night need not last forever. There comes a morning when we realize that life goes on. And although some of our grief is always with us, the hand of God steadies and leads us toward the sunrise.
— Robert J. Hastings
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from June 10 to August 23, 1993
Mr. James Robert Vaughn 06/10/93
Miss Jennifer Marie Hamm 06/10/93
Mr. Van Buren Alderson 06/13/93
Mrs. Mary Jackson Malone 06/19/93
Mr. Golden Daniel 06/20/93
Mr. Walter Wilson Carroll 06/20/93
Mr. Shirley Wilson Butts 06/21/93
Mrs. Margaret McLarty Stewart 06/23/93
Colin Dylan Malone 06/24/93
Mrs. Christine Blaylock Bonds 06/26/93
Miss Ruby Lee Raines 06/28/93
Dr. Jeanne Lowry Holley 07/06/93
Mrs. Louise Freeman Tripp 07/18/93
Mr. James Cecil Jackson, Sr. 07/20/93
Mrs. Martha Garrett Johnston 07/21/93
Mr. Howard Mabrie Bishop, Sr. 07/31/93
Mrs. Ruth Link Williams 07/31/93
Mr. Roger Wayne Seidel 08/05/93
Mr. Connie B. Lagrone, Jr. 08/07/93
Mrs. Ellen Samuels Wright 08/09/93
Mr. William Arnold Jones 08/11/93
Mrs. Qubell Welch Patton 08/13/93
Dr. William McLain Causey 08/13/93
Miss Nancy Christine Grose 08/14/93
Mrs. Norma Gullett Harris 08/15/93
Mrs. Maud Ellis Bolding 08/21/93
Mrs. Gertha May Ray 08/23/93