Wednesday, January 16, 2008

If I could do it all over... AND the Saga

A while back I received an e-mail from a friend. It was a touching, thought provoking piece about what the author would change if she could do her life over. At the end, it was attributed to "Anonymous". As a life-long fan of Erma Bombeck, I immediately recognized the column, one done when she was close to the end of her life.

At first I was angry with my friend, and then realized that the anger was misplaced for surely my friend was not the originator of the e-mail. That individual was hidden back in the mists of time. But I was impelled to do something. Erma touched too many lives to have credit taken away for her writing--even after death.

The next day I wrote to my friend, pointing out how much I enjoyed the column, even on the second or third or fourth go-round. I recalled how I felt reading it in the paper when it first came out and how sad I was that Erma Bombeck wouldn't be sharing her wisdom with us. And I asked her to add Erma's name to the piece before she forwarded it to anyone else.

Well, my friend went one better on me. She cut and pasted my note--with my name--on a new email and sent it to everyone she'd sent the original column to, asking them to honor my request and make sure that Erma's name was on it. You might say that it was futile gesture, but I feel we fight our wars one battle at a time. Recognition for the writer is a hard won battle.

And in the spirit of Erma's original column, I'll post my own list of things that I would change.

If I could do it all over again, I would never have screamed at my mother, "I hate you! I wish you were dead!" Twenty four hours later she was. I was ten. In that twenty four hours I learned that once the words are said we can never take them back. Better to not say the words to begin with. Better to wait until the brain is connected to the mouth again.

If I could do it all over again, I would leave the television off. Too many minutes, hours, and days were lost when I should have been spending time with my children, husband, family and friends. Too many opportunities were left in the dust because I watched television instead of reading, writing, painting, talking to a friend, writing letters... People are gone now with no chance to let them know that I valued them.

If I could do it all over again, I would have never owned a credit card. Debt dragged my family to the pit of hell. Debt caused humiliation, anger, loss, embarrassment, and poverty. Credit cards made it insidiously easy to buy, buy, buy things we didn't need, necessarily want, or used. How many pairs of shoes, pants, underwear can one person use? How many times do we really need to go out to eat? I will never have another credit card. Ever.

If I could do it all over again, I would have been less lazy, more active, and taken better care of myself. It's easy to give up on yourself. Very easy. It's much harder to keep moving, make the doctor's appointments, eat right, stand tall and pull that stomach in. Having four babies used to be an excuse, but isn't anymore. Sigh.

If I could do it all over again, I would have taken my children to church every week. Not because church would have made them inherently better, but because they would have been exposed to basic moral truths. I suspect that I didn't do nearly as good a job as a few years of Sunday School would have. Interesting that my children are taking their children to church.

If I could do it all over again, I would do a better job of staying in touch with friends and family. I used to write a lot of letters. What happened? I don't know. Television, life, work. Some of my friends are gone now. Some of my family has passed on. I wish I had been more persistent. Perhaps I can be now for those still around. Perhaps?

What about you? What would you change? Anything?


Yesterday, Amarinda left us with...“What curse, old woman?”

And my thoughts?

“If you use the Tourmaline Chalice for evil, you will never again be able to wield the peeler. In fact, you won’t be able to use the flogger or the singing dirk, either.”

“The singing dirk.” Emmeline blinked slowly as she considered that news. Did she really want to give up the singing dirk? Really? Zoltan had very few good qualities, except his dirk. The flogger she could take or leave, but the dirk…

“Define evil, old woman.”

“Disrespect, young woman. Snarkiness. Theft. Arrogance.” The old woman slid her a sly glance. “You will have to control your temper, your majesty. Even when Zoltan is around.”

Emmeline’s eyes began to glow as she stared at the old woman.

“Tchk. Look at the temper building up. You had better go away and think about this very carefully. Once the Tourmaline Chalice is in your hands, there is no going back, even if you give it away. It will judge you and leave you defenseless if you do evil. You will be at Zoltan’s mercy for eternity.”

Emmeline turned and marched away. She climbed up the nearest peak until she stood on the very summit, looking down on the village. She considered all the woman had said. Then she slowly pulled out her peeler and looked at it, minutely noting every scratch and tiny flaw. Her quills clacked as she took a deep breath. Then with all her might, she threw the peeler into the chasm below.

“No!” Zoltan howled as he pelted up the incline. “Don’t do it!”

Today I'll be chatting at LoveRomancesCafe from 11 AM - 3 PM EST. Stop by and say hello!

Don't forget to go to Kelly's Blog for an excerpt from her upcoming book at and then hop over to Amarinda's Place at to find out the latest in Aussieland. Blessings on your day!


  1. oh hell no, I don't want to re-do anything. Whats the point? I was always meant to do it the way I did. I'll await the next life and see what chaos I create in that one.

  2. I don't want to change anything in my life. It was hard but good, and things happened at the right time, most of them at least. If only I could take time off to relax and enjoy it. But I know I'll keep doing it the same way, even if I try different. "I did it my way." Where is old Frnkie?

  3. I'd only change something if I was given a choice of outcomes...keep the new one or stay with the current one, ala Star Trek TNG...

  4. I think that you are just a much better person than I am. I love to read other people's blogs, they are funny, sweet, insightful. But I think that yours is the only one that makes me cry at least twice a month. Not because of the content so much as the meaning behind you. You make me think. You make me think that I should strive to do more good. And then I don't. And you post again something that tears at my heartstrings and I think "Wow, if I had made a change the last time I said I would, I could be smiling knowingly right now instead of sobbing on my keyboard."

    Ah well, keep it up and someday maybe we will all be as thoughtful and kind as you are.


  5. There's not a lot that I'd like to do over, but I would have liked to have found my voice sooner - not writing wise - but speaking up when I should have instead have staying silent. I do that now - most of the time anyway - but I mourn the lost opportunities to have taken action when I could have and should have. Not sure if that makes sense, but...

  6. Wow, Anny, that really touched me. Too soon old and too late smart as they say. So many things, and so few--the television, you betcha. Had a better relationship with my dad before he died. Never, ever have started smoking. I quit six years ago, but I can't undo those 20 years. Loved myself more in every way possible. Forgiven myself more. And maybe that's something I can do now. It's not too late for that, you know?

  7. Just about everything. It's not too late for the things Ciar mentioned but it's so hard to know where and how to begin. Thank you for your wisdom, Anny.

  8. Happy with me. No changing. But the saga still has me boggled.

  9. I don't really regret much. However, the one thing that comes to mind is possibly working while I had my older two to raise. I enjoy being a SAHM with my youngest - but, again, without working I wouldn't be in this place I am today for many reasons.
    I don't dwell on it too much since I can't reverse time.