Things I wish I had said or done.
Things I wish I hadn’t said or done.
Those were the questions someone asked recently, and my stomach roiled, my eyes went into the deer in the headlight’s mode, and I felt the need to run from the room to hide in disgrace under the bed.
The list of things I wish I hadn’t said or done is far too lengthy to share, and besides, who wants to air all those tacky things that have slipped out of my mouth at the most inopportune time, and those missteps I created at my cousin’s wedding when I over indulged in the champagne fountain and fell on the groom’s cake?
But hey, let’s forget those youthful misadventures. It’s easy to be critical of one’s self, focusing on the gaffes still recalled at family gatherings or class reunions. Much harder to remind myself of the nice things I have said or done.
So, on to the other list: things I wish I had said or done.
I can say I wish I had done more during my lifetime; more questioning, more reading, more keeping my mouth shut, more daring.
But the dilemma in altering my past would mean I wouldn’t be who I am, and I like me. No one else may, but I’m pretty satisfied with the Margo of today.
This came home to me at a party of classmates several years ago. A woman sat down next to me and said, “I want to thank you for talking to me when we were juniors in high school. No one else ever spent time with me, but you did.”
If you think I remember the incident(s), you would be imagining I have a better memory than is currently obvious. I barely remembered her, and I certainly didn’t recall the exchange or circumstances. But she did, and I was touched she mentioned it to me.
Perhaps that is what funerals are about, bringing back pleasant (hopefully) stories of the deceased, recalling small incidents that probably didn’t alter a life, but brought joy or peace to another, or changed how someone acted or viewed a situation.
A friend of mine says she would like to have a celebration the night before she dies so she could hear all the nice words people would share about her while she could still hear them, easing her journey into a new realm.
That idea spurs me to tell people what they have given me; thanking them for their words of encouragement, their gestures of kindness, their thoughtful actions. After all, that is the legacy we leave behind. It’s not the amount of money we leave to someone that lives on, but rather the values, the inspiration, the beliefs, the hope we instill in those we touch.
That is what I hope to leave as my legacy: thanking those who touched that secret place within me that needed tenderness and inspiration. And maybe, just maybe, their legacy will be enhanced and emboldened, one thank you at a time.