Monday, April 25, 2011
A Story To Live By
(This story written by Ann Wells in the Los Angeles Times touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you today. There’s a lesson to learn here – a valuable lesson.)
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 with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. ‘Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine 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 remember those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad shores 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 savor, 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 feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out twenty eight dollars and forty nine cents 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 party-going 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 have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted.
It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. 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.
(I would love to hear how you make ‘special’ things part of your everyday life. I’m making changes in the way I do things – I’m not waiting for company to use the ‘good’ dishes; I’m 'doing' my face and hair each day as if I am about to meet the President or go to high tea in London; I’m greeting my sweetheart at the end of his busy day with a so-glad-you-are-home smile and a neat appearance, and a sweet fragrance. There is so much more we can do to use the things we save for someone or something special – and, too often, we never use them at all. Let me hear your thoughts, your plans and how you make the everyday special. For those you love. For yourself!)