Regrets? Too few to mention

Jim Pappas

I recently had a very interesting question asked of me by my son. It was, “What regrets do you have for your life?” I answered truthfully that I had so few that they were not really enough to mention. At the ripe age of 78 I can look back at my life and say that there were always choices to be made but I am glad I made those choices. Sometimes the path of life will take you wholly away from your intention, but bring you safely back to where you want to be.

Growing up, I had two wonderful parents and, although my father and I often disagreed, I knew that he loved and cared for me. My only regret is that I had spent so much energy always trying to have the opposite opinion from him. As he was going deeper into dementia, I began to realize how very loving he was and how much I resembled him in so many ways. I learned a lot of good lessons from caring for him then so the regret lessened. He was a very loving guy and a superior grandfather to all his adored grandchildren. I hope I can be that good with our grandchildren, so no regret –lesson learned.

When I was in high school, I was not the usual kid. I grew up surrounded by an army of adults who always were attentive and supportive. I had my Aunt Chryse, who was my ‘Auntie Mame’. she introduced me to all the wondrous things that I still love today: books, movies, stage productions and to the joy of beautiful things in your life. I was always drawing and was very interested in fashion design. She decided that I should pursue it as a career and took it upon herself to investigate a school for me. My father, an old-fashioned guy, was not in favour, so it never happened. 

I have no regret about this either as my path into the field of fashion took another direction when I began to work at Eaton’s and made my way into buying and merchandising. It may have been a different aspect of the industry, but not without its great rewards, too. I travelled and had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and see amazing places. So no regret about that — just a different path to the result.

At age thirty, I was unmarried and needed to understand if I could be a single person for the duration of my life. My parents wanted to give me a 30th birthday party and I demurred, telling them that I wanted to go alone to London, Eng. for a month to see if I could survive as a single man. They agreed and bought me the ticket although they were not sure I was doing the right thing. I knew no one in the UK. In fact this was an amazing four weeks in my life with only myself as counsel. I travelled all over the city and outside it, too, and learned that I could indeed manage alone.

When I came back armed with this knowledge I was much stronger in my resolve to live my life as it happened. I have always relied on instinct to guide me and this just strengthened that instinct. By chance, Barbra came into my life and, with no regret at all, I proposed marriage after two weeks. My friends were agog. Who was she? How long had I known her? When did this happen? I shared little with them and even decided not to unleash them all on her until I felt she was comfortable with the idea of my army of family and friends. This was one of those moments when no regret comes to the fore. After almost 48 years we are even more compatible than ever and this isolation period has brought us even closer together.

I have always tried to be a good a friend. I love to keep in touch and to spoil friends with attention and regard. In this vein I have had few regrets. I am someone who does not like to leave issues unresolved with people I love. It is a regret that some people cannot confront problems and instead run away from them, cutting off communication. I have two friends that have done that with me and I regret that I could not get either of them to open their hearts and minds and resolve the issues. My dearest friends know that I can take criticism and I applaud them for always telling the truth when I am out of step. In fact I applaud the candor of people who take a chance and tell me flat out what I am doing. So many times in my life a good friend has stopped me from making an error in judgement by pointing out things. There can be no regret to have friends who care so much to tell you the truth.

I love to cook and entertain at home and relish the thought of a beautiful table set with our china and glassware sparkling in the candlelight. My son asked one time if when they came to dine with the children why we used our good things. Barbra and I feel the same way about lovely things in our home. We value them but the usage is more important than keeping them in the cupboard. If by chance something should break in use, it means it had real value. If it breaks in the cupboard and was never used, it has no value. Both she and I have had some classic accidents with our things. I once broke nine Waterford wine glasses by trying not to spill a glass of red wine and she dropped 10 saucers from our china just moments before a dinner party. We can only regret that momentarily and we made every effort to replace them. The dinner parties still carried on and the guests were not aware. 

I have always been a very sentimental and emotional. I get very choked up in close moments. My children tease me greatly about this. I cannot disguise it no matter how I try and I have no regret for wearing my heart on my sleeve. 

When Christopher and Diane were being married, both Barbra and I were asked to say a few words. Christopher cautioned me to keep it brief and NOT cry. So it was decided that Barbra would speak first and that would curtail my tearing up. I had no regret, because when she stepped up to the microphone, she was overcome and began to cry. My rejoinder was “that’s my role” and that made her laugh and carry on. My friends and family know exactly where they stand with me and that is fine.

I have enjoyed some amazing friendships now that extend well over 50 years. When I see the people I love, my heart leaps up with joy and they can tell, but that is fine with me

I have so few regrets over my 78 years. I love the expression, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”. To have lived to this age and feel this way is to feel that it has been a life well–lived. I hope to carry on for many more years with no regrets. In fact I have started to make plans for my 80th birthday and want it to be as much a celebration as it can be. 

It will be a celebration of NO REGRETS, only to raise a glass to the past and look to the future and all the wonder it will bring.

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