CHATTING to my youngest son recently, he asked whether I had any regrets in life?
The question made me really think about my life—and what I’d change about it, if handed a ticket to a time-machine.
As you get older, time flies by so fast. ‘Til you reach the point where you realize many of the things you had planned—and always thought you had plenty of time to do—may not happen now.
That’s a real ‘wake-up-call’, especially when you still feel mentally able to achieve those things. Just perhaps not physically.
~ ~ ~
Looking back, the lion’s share of my life is regret-free.
I’ve been married to the same man for 48 years. We met three months before my 21st birthday. He was at college in Leicester and I worked as a hotel receptionist in a small town in Hampshire, where his parents lived.
He came to the hotel looking for work during the Easter holidays. And while waiting to be seen, was inspired to come and chat-me-up at the front desk.
We only saw each other six times before getting married in the June—less than three months later.
He had a student flight booked for a trip to Canada and America in the summer holidays, where he has family, and luckily, was able to bag me a seat too — we spent our honeymoon travelling.
We had virtually no money, but were able to get work in Canada—which paid for the flights to Texas—from where we travelled to Monterrey in Mexico, back to Texas, then finally home to London, via New York.
When my parents passed away, I found a collection of letters which I’d written to them while on those travels. They’re a wonderful record of times past—and also very funny; written with such charming innocence.
One day I may choose to publish them on my blog.
During the 48 years we’ve shared, we’ve repeatedly ridden life’s rollercoaster.
It’s been a blast—intertwined with tragedy, sorrow and pride. But always an abundance of love; both for each other and our wonderful children and grandchildren.
Our first baby died when he was just five hours old, but then we were blessed with three more beautiful children, and over the years they have blossomed and grown into the most amazing human beings.
They’ve all overcome their own unique challenges in life. And while not millionaires (yet!), they’re richer in every other way for those experiences.
Trustworthy, loving, caring and loyal are just a few of the qualities they’ve been able to pass on to their children. Our incredible grandchildren.
There are no words to describe the joy they’ve brought to us over the years. They’re truly wonderful and we feel privileged and blessed to be in their lives.
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For the last 25 years of our working lives, we ran two businesses together: a design consultancy and two antique shops.
It was a crazy time with so much packed into every waking hour. We worked hard and played hard—yet thoroughly enjoyed it all. And the best part was the amazing people we met along the way. Some who are still friends today.
Now that we’re retired, if still boasting a bustling schedule, I do reflect on things from time-to-time. And some regrets do bubble up.
I regret my parents had such a hard life—which they didn’t deserve.
My father spent four years in a POW (Prisoner of War) camp at the hands of the Japanese during World War II.
Against all the odds, he survived and made a new life for himself back in England—working hard and living to a grand 83 years of age. But he never fully recovered from the mental and physical torture he suffered during his captivity.
My mother was his rock and they stayed together—despite enduring some tough times. Many couples in their shoes didn’t make it. She was incredible and is an inspiration to me every day.
I am strong because of her.
~ ~ ~
I regret the suffering my three children have endured for different reasons.
If I could have swapped places with them, I would have. But thankfully they’ve all come through. And are, I believe, stronger and more confident people for conquering those challenges.
I also lament the fact I wasn’t able to sit any exams before I left school at 15, to take my first job. I dreamt of being a lawyer, which would have required a law degree. But going to university wasn’t possible for me then.
Not having a more successful career is a regret too. But I do still have an ‘ology’ in life skills—and am very proud of that.
I believe our lives are mostly mapped out; kind of written in the stars. And no matter what decisions we take, they’ll move us in particular directions.
I say this because there are so many instances when I’ve wondered “what if” I’d taken another path?
But they always lead me back to where I am today. And the fact that, if I’d made different decisions, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I am reasonably fit, and a happy and contented wife, mother and grandmother. With a life rich in ‘special’ memories. And hopefully many more to create in the future.
If I was to give any advice, I’d say:
- Believe in yourself and love the person you are.
- Live life to the full (you only have one).
- Follow your instincts and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
- Don’t be afraid to take a risk, as long as it’s a calculated one.
- Make every day count; time is precious.
- Enjoy the good times—and always try to learn from the not-so-good.
- Be proud of yourself and what you achieve—and you’ll have few regrets.
‘Til next time