Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wisdom and Regrets - A Short Story

Wisdom and Regrets

Emilie sat by her Grandma Bessie’s bedside.  She stroked her hand and sang a few bars of “You are my Sunshine.”  Grandma Bessie had sung that song to Emilie hundreds of times when she was a child.  Now it was Emilie’s turn to sing.  Grandma Bessie was dying and would likely not make it through the night.  The sadness and heaviness of death hung in the room, so Emilie sang and stroked and cried a bit for this woman who had always been there for her. 

There were moments of lucidness through the night.  Emilie asked Bessie if she had any regrets from her 88 years of life.  Bessie smiled with her eyes closed and spoke in a whisper, “Emilie, it’s not good to have too many regrets.  They can be stones around the neck that keep you from moving forward.  Try not to drag regrets through life.  I do sometimes think of moments when I was in too much of a hurry to get somewhere and missed something small and magical.  As I got older, I took more time for the magic and left the hurrying to others.”  Bessie paused, then turned and looked at Emilie.

“I was 35 years old and living in New York City.  I had an important job in the garment district as a designer.  I was rushing to a meeting to discuss the fall fabric colors when I heard exquisite music emanating from Central Park.  It swirled around my head in marvelous waves of sound and my steps slowed so I could savor each note, but I didn’t stop.  I had to be somewhere important.  I regret moments like that.  I should have kicked off my high heels, wandered barefoot into the park and perched myself on a grassy patch for the rest of the concert.”   Bessie sighed and then continued.

“When I was about 50 years old and had moved with John to Columbus, Ohio, I came upon a young woman crying in the grocery.  I asked her if I could help.  She said, “No, no, I’m fine.”  So, I moved on and continued with my shopping.  I should have stayed with her and encouraged her to speak to me of the sadness in her heart.  I've often wondered about her.”  Bessie smiled at Emilie and then turned her head and closed her eyes.

“I’m an old woman Emilie and I have few regrets.  Just remember to stop when you hear the music and pause when you hear the tears of others.  The joys and sorrows of life deserve our full attention.”

Emilie continued to stroke Bessie’s hand after she stopped talking, and then she sensed the sudden absence of life in the room.  Bessie was gone and the joys and sorrows of her life had spiraled up into the heavens where all peacefulness reigns.  No regrets – just abundant glory. 


  1. This is where I'd like to be when I'm saying goodbye to the world someday: not too many regrets and a beautiful loving spirit holding my hand! Great post! I'm enjoying it with my sister in law, which makes it even better. xoxoxoxox Judy

  2. Nice post Rita! Love the story & wisdom it tells :) xxoo marti

  3. Thank you Libby, Judy, & Marti. I don't know where this idea came from although Mike and I have been going through all Hazel's belongings this week. I'm sure that had something to do with it. I appreciate all of you and your kind feedback. Love, Rita