Monday, January 2, 2012

A Story to Live By Ann Wells for the Los Angeles Times

People keep asking what my New Years Resolutions are.
I guess, if I had to pick one,
this is what I would pick.

A Story To Live By
By Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times)

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. 
"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."

 He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. 
"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. 
I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. 
I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savour, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. 
I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my partygoing friends. "Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I'm not sure what my sister would've done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences or past squabbles. 
I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing - I'll never know. It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with - someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write - one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. 
I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is... a gift from God.



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26 comments:

Wanda said...

Wow....Becky....another hit...right to the heart. Thank you so much for sharing this. This should be our daily mantra.

And what gorgeous images to go with it. Just beautiful. I've missed my visits here. This is something I should not be putting off.

Happy New Year to you sweety-pie! xoxo

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

That is so true! I think that all the time, but still get caught up with the everyday bs instead. This is a beautiful reminder. Plus your pics are beautiful. The hydrangea, oh, is so pretty.

Gigi said...

Definitely words to live by! Happy New Year to you and your family.

April said...

Once again, you've hit the nail on the head! With all the losses I've faced in my life, I've quickly learned how to cherish people and not things. I keep my eyes wide open to really 'see' all the beauty around me. I never, ever take a single day for granted.

Mari said...

Wow - that's great advice! As usual, I greatly enjoyed your photos too.

tinajo said...

Beautiful photos and story! :-)

Southern Gal said...

I wish I knew what I know now 20 years ago. Would it make a difference? I would hope so. Thanks for the story and the photos. Lovely.

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Always such an essential thing to be reminded of. Lovely photos too, Becky. Happy New Year!

*Jess* said...

I needed this today. Beautiful!

Mary Marantz said...

Amazing! So, so powerful!

M

lifebythecreek said...

Such truth, dear friend. When I pass a wreck on the interstate, surrounded by ambulances and police cars and firetrucks, first I pray for all involved. And then I think about how they got up that morning and left their houses with to-do lists and plans. Nobody ever plans for the unexpected or the unthinkable. But we really do need to live every day as if it is our last one. xoxox...

CiCi said...

"Some day" and "one of these days" is right now, this minute. This is a beautiful post. I love the photos and the words. It has reached my heart and reminded me of how important every day truly is. As long as there is breath in this body, I will remember this post.

Tina´s PicStory said...

wonderful pics!

Maddy said...

Wow!! So true, Becky!! And what a great resolution! Every day we get to spend of this earth is a gift and we should treat it as such :) Wonderful reminder!

Laurie Matherne said...

I have not left a comment in a long time, but I often read and admire the posts. Best wishes for the new year.

Em S said...

Loved your post. How true, and yet for some of us that is so hard to do...to stop and cherish every moment NOW rather than later...

Gina Kleinworth said...

So well said- it's so important to not hold back. Every day could be our last- we just don't know. So let those we care about know that we love them. Wear the fancy perfume every day & enjoy it. Love this post!!!

Tamar SB said...

I find I am at my happiness when I am living each moment as it is the last moment, people may think it's morbid, but it's not! I am squeezing life out of every moment I have! Why I love that quote i used in my memories post so much!!!

Marla said...

What a touching story...

Marla @ www.blueskiesphotoblog.com

RR Mama said...

Beautiful story! Hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year!

Skeller said...

wise words ...

Diana...aka...MeMe said...

Certainly words to live by!! Happy New Year to Kaishons mom! I wish you the best in this new year!

momphotographer said...

touching and beautiful!

Tracy P. said...

Those are some wise words, Miss Becky! Very beautiful indeed!

homeschoolceo said...

Oh my, what a heartfelt and beautifully written post. So many of us need to read this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your gorgeous photos! Wow!! One thing is for sure, you are not holding back on sharing your God-given talent. What a gift ;)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Very heartful words to live by.
Gorgeous photos Becky!