A 24-year-old woman lives with her parents in Connecticut. She is in love with a Navy officer from Virginia. She suddenly finds herself about to become mother and is concerned about her future. Her father, an old-time farmer, confronts the young lad and asks him if he is ready to marry his daughter. The Officer says that he cannot do that because he must take care of his ailing mother and father and, in addition, he is scheduled to go out to sea for an extended period of time. “However,” he says, “Here is what I will do. I will give her $5,000 to cover the medical expenses involved and if it is a boy, I will give her $2,000 a month support and pay for his college education. In addition, if it is a girl, I will provide $5,000 for medical expenses, $2,000 a month for support and I will also pay for her wedding when that time comes.”
The father thinks for a minute and then asks, tongue firmly in cheek, “And if she has a miscarriage will you give her a second chance?”
Some people may not respond well to the above joke. It is placed here as an example of a potential real-life circumstance. Some of us believe we need to laugh at life's misfortune in order to cope. You see, as we journey through life we face many challenges, and each day brings new experiences to us. Yes, we were children once and suddenly we become the parents. There is no way to train for that position except to follow our instincts in each situation, hoping our decision will turn out right. After all, didn't we more often than not react positively to our parent’s decisions?
Well, alright. Not exactly.
If this is not complicated enough, we suddenly find ourselves being the parents of our growing children and our aging parents. WOW! The fact is that sometimes we get it so wrong and make terrible judgments, judgments which bring pain, anger and disruption to our relationships. Can we be forgiven? Are apologies enough? Is there a second chance to redeem ourselves? Our faith may tell us there is - but what about those we love? Even though we may go on to redeem ourselves by leading good lives, helping others and making a positive contribution to society - not because we feel that we have to, but rather because we sincerely want to - what about those who were so hurt by our actions? Are they willing to forgive? Will they be willing to look inward and realize that even they had made bad judgments along the way? Maybe not as serious as those we made, but nevertheless judgments which caused us hurt, but which we overlooked to maintain our loving relationships?
There was a talented young man (his name and some minor facts are omitted to protect his family) who gained fame and fortune during the 60’s. His story appeared in Time Magazine and at his funeral the most famed in his profession spoke of his accomplishments. Unfortunately, while traveling the world on behalf of one of his famous clients he, through their influence, became hooked on drugs, destroyed his family and his relationship with them, lost his professional standing and spent time in jail. When he came out of prison he dedicated himself to helping the elderly, and the poor, and, eventually, died from the results of his indulgence. His loved ones, as should be in similar circumstance, reached out to help him through his final journey, even though the scars left by his actions will always remain.
The message I leave to my readers is this: Yesterday is gone. Let us each day move on. In the words of Rabbi Alexander Steinbach, “Through Storms We Grow ...”
Bernard ("Bernie") Otis is the author of the upcoming international bestseller, "How To Prepare For Old Age (If You Haven't Married Into A Wealthy Family)". If you have a question or comment, or a personal story about life and aging, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.