Your biggest regret in life will be something you failed to commit to, not anything you did wrong.
Most of us are scared of making the wrong decision, when it’s indecision we should really fear. Indecision is paralyzing. It’s what keeps us from moving forward.
We’ve all found ourselves lost, sitting at a stop sign, scanning the road for clues to point us in the right direction – and we’ve all stepped on the gas. We are fearless on the road, knowing that we can always correct course and wind up at our chosen destination – even if it means running an innocent, slow-driving, QVC loving, Craftmatic Adjustable Bed using grandma off the road to get there on time.
Left, right, forwards, backwards, it doesn’t matter – we’ve made our mind up and grandma needs to get her sweet-ass outta the way!
But in life… in life, we’re often that same slow driving grandma who sits way too long at every stop sign, afraid to move, waving others on while trying to determine when it’s her time to go.
In contrast, my grandmother refused to yield to any of the stop signs she encountered in life. She was resolute in her decisiveness and became my mentor and personal hero long before I ever learned to drive.
I was raised by my mother and my Granda Jane. My father and sister lived a few hours north, but it seemed much further away than that.
My grandmother was part Annie Oakley, part Jackie Kennedy. She bought me my first knife. She taught me to chop wood and shoot guns. She introduced me to golf, tennis, travel, art, politics, cuisine and classical music. She was far more intelligent and capable than the man she married, and that isn’t a knock on my grandfather, it’s just the simple truth.
She let me use massive, razor-sharp cooking knives long before I could see what was on the counter. She supervised as I stood on a stool chopping vegetables. Years later, when I was in grade school, I remember sitting by her side with the newspaper spread before us, listening intently as she explained the stock page. Her trust in me was unfailing, because she knew I would never defy her.
My grandmother was still auditing college classes at age eighty when she informed my grandfather that she was leaving him for her high school sweetheart. It wasn’t a discussion. It was a directive. Move. Get out of my way. I’m making a left turn, right the fuck now.
Everyone was surprised, but no one except my grandfather was shocked. When he asked why, she unapologetically answered, “I’ve lived my whole life caring for you. It’s time I take care of myself.”
Wow, right? That’s one hard-ass woman! Yup. That’s why I loved my grandma. She never minced words. You always knew exactly where you stood with her because she was the most direct and decisive person I’ve ever known – and she never let the expectations of others drive her decisions.
She was sure in life, confidently choosing decision over indecision, knowing that even the worst decisions lead you somewhere new.
My only regret in regard to my grandmother is meaningless to everyone but me.
The entire family met for her 90th birthday on a sunny fall day in Tucson, AZ. I had plans to splurge and buy her a bottle of her favorite champagne. Dom Perignon, which she had tasted only once before.
I held it I my hands and before I made it to the register my aunt saw the bottle and began chastising me. It was a waste of money she said. She handed me a bottle of Freixenet, deeming it a perfectly suitable replacement.
I remember looking around as if I was sitting at a stop sign, unsure of which way to go. In a moment of true indecision I caved and bought the Freixenet. That night, I watched on helplessly as my grandmother took a single sip of champagne before dismissively setting her glass aside. She died a few days later.
I think about that a lot more than I should. I’m telling you, it’s the things you want to do, but fail to follow through on that you’ll regret the most in life.
Today, I find consolation is her favorite quote, which she jokingly suggested be placed on her tombstone:
“If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’ll be lucky.”
True that grandma. True that.
Left to right: Grandma Jane, my mother Martha and my aunt Michelle.