Weighty Matters

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Relishing Joy

on March 3, 2013

I had a nice talk on the phone with a dear cousin.  She’s a couple of years older than I am and, even though we didn’t see each other often when we were kids, we were always close.  A few of the most fun summers I had as a teen were when she and her sister came down and spent a few weeks with our family at the shore.

You might remember that last April another cousin of mine was killed by a motorcycle accident.  That cousin was one of the younger sisters of the one I spoke with today.  That tragic death affected all of us but for J, it sent her a message and gave her the motivation to stop postponing her happiness.  She’s made some significant changes in her life since then, designed to reach her own happy.  Along the way she reconnected with a special guy.  I can hear in her voice how she lights up when she talks about him.  They’re amazed that they could have known each other literally most of their lives but only now, in their 50s, have they found each other and are connected and in love.

It makes me so happy to hear her so happy.  I can tell that she’s truly relishing her joy.

Our conversation went on for a while and we covered a lot of ground.   In addition to not postponing happiness, we discussed faith and spirituality, with and without formal religion.  We talked a lot about gratitude and how it’s important to recognize the things that we’re grateful for and to really express it, to show in our attitudes that we’re thankful for our lives with all the blessing and lessons.

My cousin also shared with me that our Great-Aunt Mary passed away last week.  She was 101 or, maybe, 102.  God bless her!  Technically she wasn’t a blood relation.  She was married to one of the brothers of our grandmother, but we don’t get hung up by the technicality.  We’d known her all of our lives and she was family.  This woman was a pip.  I remember her as vibrant, out-going, and fun.  Decades ago, my cousins and I left a family wedding reception just a bit early to go to jai alai.  I’d never been before.  Come to think of it, I haven’t been since.  Anyway, Aunt Mary was the first of our “greats” to slip us some money with the instructions that we should “wheel the quinella”.   (Google it for the explanation.)  That bet sounded so sophisticated to me.

My great uncle died many years ago.  Aunt Mary eventually remarried but stayed relatively close with the our family.   She visited us a few times with other family members.  I remember the last time, 20 some years ago.  They were with us for almost a week and made a trip to the casinos every single day.  Her energy level was amazing.  Every night before she went to bed, she had a glass of Christian Brothers brandy.  She claimed it was medicinal and that her doctor recommended it for her.   Given her great age, he might have been onto something.  Even after the death of her second husband, she continued to live on her own, close to her family but independently, until a year or two ago.  Again, I say, God bless her.  That woman knew how to live a good life.

I will never claim that my life has sucked.  It hasn’t.  Granted, there were a few times like the deaths of my parents, when it wasn’t its best, but I’ve been blessed for the most part.  Every morning before I get out of bed, I say a simple message of gratitude for the blessing of a new day and for my life and every aspect of it.

It’s no secret that my last year has been particularly terrific as I ride the high of the weight loss and my advancement in fitness.  I’m enjoying so much of it but sometimes I feel shards of regret cut through the high.  I feel bad that I squandered so many years.  But, you know, spending time feeling bad for what I did or didn’t do in the past simply wastes more time.   It’s as much of a time thief as fearing what might happen in the future.  That’s something else my cousin and I talked about today — about being afraid that something could happen tomorrow or the next day that will rob us of the happiness we have today.  I told her that we shouldn’t let our happiness today or our joyful anticipation of the future be held hostage by fear.

I’m going to remind myself of that lesson.  I’m also going to remember it when I feel bad about a past that I can’t change.  It’s over and done.  All I have is today and I’m going to relish every minute of it.

4 responses to “Relishing Joy

  1. Hope says:

    Your lifetime happiness quotient is trending up… I’d say that’s pretty great!

  2. Susanne says:

    A Mennonite friend of mine once said, “We’re here now.” when I apologized for not getting in touch with her sooner. That has really stuck with me.

    We’re here now.

  3. Skye says:

    Wonderful and inspiring! Living with regret or fear is so sad and powerless; what you are saying is so joyful and powerful! You are such a strong person, Mary, and I love reading what you have to say.

  4. Thea says:

    Beautiful narrative, touching and meaningful resolution. Your insight reaches beyond yourself, and I’m grateful for your sharing.

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