Sweetie was the chauffeur today for our lunch outing with Dad and his lady friend. After a delicious meal and lots of laughs she suddenly grew wistful and said, "Ah, if I had it to do over again..."
Her comments so inspired us that we followed suit. The rule was to not use any statement already said.
Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I never would have started smoking."
Dad: "If I had it to do over again, I would have told more people, more often, how much I loved them."
Dad's Friend: "If I had it to do over again, I would have worried less and laughed more."
Me: "If I had it to do over again, I would have spent less on junk and prepped more."
Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I would have reported more income so I'd have more Social Security now."
Dad: "If I had it to do over again, I would've listened more to my mother's advice."
Dad's Friend: "If I had it to do over again, I would've cared less about appearances and more about playtime."
Me: "If I had it to do over again, I would seek better counsel."
Sweetie: "If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed out of the bars."
Dad: "This is getting difficult. I would've done the same thing."
Dad's Friend: "You guys are cheating. But, I'll add this: I would've dumped more alcohol down the drain."
Me: "This is getting gloomy! You'd think alcohol's to blame for all your problems."
They all looked at me and said, "To a large extent it was." Thankfully, they stopped drinking long ago and dessert arrived!
Later, my Dad said he'd once spend most of a day thinking about "If I had..." and it changed his life. He stopped being angry, stopped drinking, stopped getting even, stopped procrastinating and started focusing on what truly mattered.
Today, the man who was booted out of the Navy; saw plenty of time in the brig during his first Coast Guard tour; spent years in the bars to avoid problems at home; and wrecked four vehicles and six utility poles while driving drunk, has redeemed himself. Everywhere he goes he's either recognized or soon makes a new friend.
Sweetie's history is similar though he claims he shouldn't be alive and the reason he's not in prison is due to "a paperwork error."
Dad's friend was known as a drunk who mixed beer in the pancake batter, the gravy, the soup and "anything else" while caring for six children and a crippled husband. Today her husband's long gone, her children and grandkids and great grandkids adore her. She's an active, vibrant, humorous woman who's always ready to lend a hand or a shoulder. Many, many years of her life were sheer hell but you'd never know it today.
And then there's me. How quickly life has flown by. One day I'm a size 10 thirty-year-old who's "smart, successful and well off" with the wardrobe, job, cars, home and condo to prove it. The next thing I know I'm ill, overweight, homeless, broke and alone. Thank God for mercy, grace, forgiveness and another sunrise!
Today, let "If I had to do it over again..." be your guide to forgiving yourself and others, creative solutions, unimaginably possibilities and clarity.