This is from an article I wrote in 2003 for our UK church magazine.
A pop song – another 'Don't worry, be happy'. We'd just returned from India, and turned into curmudgeons – not even 'Old Codgers' which has overtones of cosiness. From a country which had poverty and sadness, England seemed full of discontent – illustrated by the politician's words 'You never had it so good'. Young people were well fed, educated, they had total freedom of choice, yet the crime rate was rising, children of broken homes on the increase, many did not have the joy of a father-figure because modern woman thought she could manage without (by choice or abandoned), and many children were under psychiatric care.
In the same issue were extracts from 'If I had my life to live over' by Erma Bombeck*, written when she found out she was dying of cancer. A few of her 'regrets':
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have taken time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show dirt, or would last a lifetime.
When my children kissed me impetuously, I would never have said 'Later, now go get washed up for dinner'.
There would have been more 'love you's. More 'I'm sorry'.
Now, 14 years later, neither of us is terminally ill, but it's often difficult to be cheerful. However, the picture above has real meaning. Among the girls is the one we have 'brought up' from the age of 7. She was rescued from an awful childhood, and taken into a Catholic convent. We paid all the bills, and visited 9 times. I lost touch – her English is not good. Then I heard she had moved states, followed by the news that she was ill and had an abortion. Reading between the lines it seems likely she was raped, she'd never tell me. I thought she was dead. Now, she has 'surfaced' through Facebook, it was her birthday a couple of days ago, and we are going to be 'grandparents' again in a few months. (She regards us as her parents, and our children as her siblings, she knows all about them). Reasons to be cheerful indeed.
A Moodscope member.
* Erma Bombeck was a much syndicated writer of humorous columns in the US, she died of kidney failure.