I am always amused when a person sums up their life with, "I have no regrets."
I just heard an old actor say it last night on a talk show. Cole Porter should have written a song about regrets. Actors' have them - Sports figures have them - Politicians have them - Soldiers have them - Even common folk have them – Let’s all regret! La De Da - La De Da!
No regrets!! What a bunch of crap! No one is perfect or has a perfect life. Even Jesus Christ got beat, flogged, humiliated and then crucified at the end of his life. I am sure he regretted enduring some of that.
We are human and if honest, have many regrets. I know I have plenty. They are like ghosts lurking in the shadows of my memories. From child hood to my present (regretful) senior status regrets still constantly flourish. One of the worst regrets I have was the topic of a prior story I wrote, “Turning Mortal”.
However, some regrets are minor. Like the new front walk-in door for my business downtown not coming in for two weeks. It was supposed to finally be here today. The lumber yard now says another week because of personal vacations. This door job is holding up my shop getting painted while the paint company I hired sits on a hefty deposit. Plus all this waiting in limbo is interfering with Linda and me going to Wisconsin for our own damn vacation. Finally, after 3 weeks the damn door came in. It was the wrong door! How hard can that be? It is just a common walk in door for a pole building! I scrapped the idea of a new door and we’ll just paint the old one.
But hey, that is an example of just a very minor regret.
Snapping at my mother in 1992 because she was not paying attention to what I was saying, that is one of my huge regrets. I had taken mom, who had suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1987, from the nursing home out for 1992 Easter Brunch. We were in the car on the way to eat and she pointed something out in a field while I was telling her about my last race. It annoyed me that she interrupted and I chastised her for it. I should have had my tongue torn out, or at least sent to the shunning house.Mom died a few days later on Mother's Day while I was full filling my contractual obligation at a race 300 miles away. That regret, my friends, even trumps Turning Mortal.
I regret not taking my dad fishing when he got old. I was too busy racing.
When I was a youngster, dad and I were hunting and fishing buddies. Hunting and fishing was a way of life then. Talk about classic "The Cat in the Cradle"! And the good time band!" Too late now, Dad died in ‘86.
There are a myriad of regretful things during the course of a lifetime. Things that were said, that should not have been, things that should have been said, but were not. Things that were not done, that should not have been, things that should have been done, but were not.
How about career regrets? Bad decisions, the four cars I crashed, broken parts, races I should have won. How about all the occasions with family and friends I ignored. It was, "The show must go on!!"
How about the national event I won in the early ‘80s by a fender and the other lane win light, for some reason, came on and I was only awarded runner up. No way to prove otherwise back then. Many fans by the fence at the finish line saw it, but in AHRA 1983, no TV, no iPhones, no computer progressive time slips, etc. Am I regretful? You bet.
Here's more, being nasty to a longtime fan once in 2012. Yes, even me. I was at my wits end that day. That incident bugs me to this day. Never saw that person again or knew his name so I could make amends. I hope by chance he reads this. Or being nasty to my crew chief in 1984 when he could not go to a certain race. I loved him like a little brother. He got killed near his home in a horrendous car accident that weekend. I never had a chance to apologize. How is that for regret?
Or at different times, I left loved ones dying to go to a race to fulfill a contracted booking; my brother in ‘87, my mom in ‘92 and my mother- in- law in ‘94. They all died while I was racing; now haunting me forever in my mental wonderings and dreams.
My wonderful wife, who has endured me for over half a century, I regret not making love to her more often, especially when I was in my prime. Please don't be guilty of that regret. Make love! Lots and lots of it!
Heavy stuff huh? Well, enough whining.
During last night, June 22, my dear friend, across from my shop died, she was 102 years old. Her name is Inva Strong, a classic old maid. I wonder if in her 102 years she had any regrets. I would bet she did.
Inva's house kitty corner from my shop-Animal Jim Racing downtown Lacon, IL. Parts would be left on screened side.
Inva was one of the first people we met when Linda, my two year old daughter Jackie, our one year old red tabby and I moved to Lacon in 1967. Wow! Inva was only 53 then and still a looker. Why she never married I don't know. She was a smart woman and I am sure she had her reasons. In 1967, I was 26 and Linda 25. We rented a house from Inva for a couple years before we bought one. Inva lived kitty corner from my shop. For the last many years Inva took my shop deliveries for me when I was gone. I had a sign on my shop door instructing delivery agents to see her. Even recently, at 102, Inva would call me on the phone if I had any deliveries. Every Christmas she would make me a special Christmas pie, even last Christmas at 101.
Sign I had on door for delivery agents to take them to Inva's house.
I spent many Christmas eve early afternoons visiting Inva and would bring her a gift. Her huge family would also visit. She was the Strong family queen. What a story I hope to write.
A couple years ago she confessed to me, giggling, that her longevity was due to living on red meat, bacon and candy. Wow! Stick that in your pipe nutrition fanatics. The next Christmas I gave her five pounds of South Dakota heavily marbled open range thick bacon. On her 100th birthday I brought her a HUGE box of Fannie May candy.