~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Shoot For No Regrets

I've spent a lot of time lately visiting my mother who just turned 90 years old.  She lives now at an assisted living residence, or as we used to say "the old folks home."  

Mom’s had a good life, is well loved by her family, and she and my dad traveled quite a lot over the 64 years they were married. 

I like to ask the people I meet at the retirement place about their life and give them a chance to talk.  Often no one really talks to them or asks them much of anything beyond the banal “How are you feeling today?”  

A few, like “Smitty,” who was part of the Anzio landing in WWII, or the very talkative lady who doesn't remember much but remembers performing on Broadway in the 50's, have had pretty amazing lives.  They DID things and saw things that became a part of them, and they remember those things.  And their kids and grandkids and great-grandkids might even remember someday. 

Sadly, most have no great stories, none beyond the fact that they worked and raised kids who hate to visit them now, or worse.  A few wrinkled faces sometimes look regretful about their lack of adventures.  That regretful look is painful to see because there is no way to undo it and they seem know they could have done things, could have had adventures, but didn't.

I believe that long time motorcycle riders have the spirit to do more than merely live.  Try not to be one of those who regrets what they did not do.


Geoff James said...

Well said Doug!

Unless the Buddhists are right, you only get one crack at life so you might as well go for it and have no regrets. You don't need to have lots of money to have fun either.

Really moved with you taking the time to talk properly to the older folks. We have members in their 80's in the Senior Citizens computer club that I'm a volunteer with and they are absolutely wonderful company.

mq01 said...

"I believe that long time motorcycle riders have the spirit to do more than merely live. Try not to be one of those who regrets what they did not do".

those are truly words to live by doug. thank you!

Anonymous said...

This is why I took up motorcycling-so I wouldn't end up an old man who regretted never riding a big fat loud motorcycle.

Life is short- be happy.

Jac Brown said...

Nice post.

It seems that you and I have been doing much the same recently. My Dad says that he never expected to end up in a place like the assisted living home. In reality, it is a good place when your body isn't working too well. He is making lots of friends, just as I'm sure your mother is.

By the way, we've got a foundry worker who loves old Buicks, a very loud woman named Dorthea who loves to tease, and a woman who was born in France and still says "merci".

I hope your Mom is doing well.

Canajun said...

Like Ms. M says, words to live by. But in reality most folks of that age did have adventures - maybe not mountaineering, but living through 2 world wars, the Roaring 20's, the depression, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, being the patriarch (or matriarch) of 3 or 4 generations are all the things of adventure. What is even sadder to me (and I have personal experience here) is when people who have lived through all those things and more feel that their life has been without adventure and therefore, in some way, less worthy.

FLHX_Dave said...

Your story here is exactly why I live the way I do. You nailed it right here. "Do what drives you, but try to be good to people along the way. It's all good as long as you are not directly harming someone else." There is a huge difference dissappointing someone because you won't live the life they want you to and actually screwing people. I have many "elderly" friends. They all tell me the same thing you put so well here.

The older generation that stays active are happy. The ones who sit on the couch are very bitter and miserable. That's all I know from experience thus far. Good thoughts Doug.

FLHX_Dave said...

...oh yeah....evil primary covers...damn them!

Doug Klassen said...

Canajan's comment brought to mind a favorite quote:
"There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy."
From "The Refuge of the Derelicts" by Mark Twain

I think of the elderly folks I've met, the regretful ones are those who felt they wanted to do more, could have done more, and did not whether because of timidity or social pressures.

I think I need to rephrase my questions to the old folks I know and meet and ask them what the highlight of their life has been, that may be a much fairer and relevant question.

GF said...

Great post and I applaud you for taking the time to talk to long living folks, not "old folks" ;-)
You nailed it, that's why I got back into motorcycling, I have raced cars, I became a certified diver after 40, I ride, I've traveled but there's so much more to see and live :-)

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