Be Happy Please! Take My Advice!

A lot of what I have written has been tough for me to write. Based on comments from many, it has been hard to read as well.

I get that, but I can’t apologize for the brutality of the truth we live. There is no amount of sugar coating to be done to make this story more palatable for those who might wish it so.

Believe me, you cannot wish for that any more than me.

In the meantime, I have been on the receiving end of lots of responses thanking me for being authentic about my struggles. I realize it is raw. It is what it is.

But taking a break from stuff that is so hard to write about, I’d like to indulge my guilt and regret as well as encourage you to not have any of your own.

I have lots of regrets. Things I didn’t do. Places I didn’t go. Words I never said. Hugs that went AWOL. (Or as we said in the US Navy, UA–unauthorized absence)

Don’t let that happen to you.

Don’t let that happen to you.

In my best ex-preacher voice said with power, conviction, truth, and authority, let me say it again: DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN TO YOU!

If you need to mend a fence with a spouse, stop reading right now and go do it. Lay it on thick and heavy. Make It real. Learn how to apologize and mean it. Change bad behavior while you still can.

Seriously.

Go do it now!

If you need to go play a game or watch a movie or build a tree house with a kid, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and go do it now.

Really.

Do it now.

I promise your life is way to short to live with these kinds of regrets–and once they are there and written in stone, they are there forever.

Please don’t let that happen to you.

Grieving is doubly hard when you are beating yourself up for failures real or imagined.

I don’t care what Dave Ramsey has to say about it, whip out that credit card and buy a dozen roses or hydrangeas (I originally said begonias but those of you who prefer something else can thank Becki for the hydrangeas instead) or whatever her favorites are.

If he likes Home Depot or Lowe’s, go buy him a gift card and give him two hours by himself to play with all the big boy tools he wants.

You will never go wrong sharing a cup of coffee on the back deck.

I promise.

As far as kids are concerned, ice cream cones are cheap. Better yet, when the ice cream truck comes through the neighborhood make a big deal out of it.

Push a swing. Ride the slide yourself. Be the biggest kid on the playground.

Read a book.

Have a family devotional. Even if it feels weird and strange, do it.

Roast marshmallows. Make s’mores.

Eat cake for breakfast–dare the food police to come–laugh in their face.

The more memories you make, the stronger your defense is toward all the doubt, guilt, and regret that may unfortunately come your way some day.

Do not be the Dad from Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle

And here’s another suggestion. Do something for yourself. Don’t regret what you could have taken time for…

I have always joked that when it came to musical ability, I could play a radio louder and better than most. And sing? Move over Bon Jovi.

For Christmas this year, my Becki gave me a letter that said it was time for me to add a musical instrument to voice and she gave me guitar lessons. Along with the letter she gave me an engraved copper pick that says, “where words fail, music speaks.”

I love it. It is some of the best therapy ever.

Thus far, I am picking up some tabs. I can actually play one chord, beat my guitar, and sing a blues song called Hambone. Everybody here at the house is tired of hearing it, but maybe one day I’ll record a snippet and let you be the judge.

See ya later.

I need to go kiss my wife and take a walk with a couple of kids…

And my pretty red guitar (Party Girl) is calling my name.

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22 thoughts on “Be Happy Please! Take My Advice!

  1. And…even when tragedies do not distrupt the future, kids grow up and move away. Take time. Amen. Excuse me now, while I go play a game. 🙂

  2. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your journey. I hope that as you work through the many feelings, you find that place you are looking for. Many of us are by your side (it may be virtually, but by your side) until you make it there! I’m going to take your advice and shut down this computer and sit next to my hubby and watch his favorite picture with him. Take care!

  3. I was friends with Karen in high school and followed her on facebook. I prayed for you and your family after the tragedy. My husband was killed in an accident in May and this blog really hits home. I felt so much regret at first until I realized everytime I thought of something I wished I’d done differently or better I could hear him answer me saying the exact same thing. We were not a perfect married couple and we both would have been better or done more given another chance. I can no more blame myself than I could let him take any blame. We were two imperfect people who loved each other. We forgive each other for not being perfect and focus on the love. I still have regrets, but I don’t let them disable me. I’m trying to do better, because as we both know another day is not promised. Thank you for sharing your story. My prayers continue to be with you and your family.

  4. Tears and laughter reading this. I can read some “happy” coming into play ! You make some very valid points its important to make sure there are no regrets.I cant wait to hear your music.I always loved to hear you sing in that big voice coming from the back of the church.. PS once a preacher always a preacher !

  5. Les, I just want you to know how glad I am that you have found someone to join you on your journey. What I read today has really made me sit up and take notice. My husband is always telling me, “We should be going somewhere, seeing places”. I watched as my parents missed their own opportunities to travel together, and today I am determined that we WILL take some trips and make some wonderful memories this year. Thanks for the nudge.

    Linda Lyon
    Union City, TN

  6. Our living room walls are filled with guitars. Looks like a small version of Guitar Center, but my guitars have been my “mistress” when I needed to get away from the realities of life.
    My name is Greg England and I covet your red guitar!! 🙂
    Great advice, Les. As a preacher-turned-funeral director, I hear the regrets on a daily basis.

  7. Les….Terry and I have read your blog…tears and pain filled our hearts, but knowing that Becki is walking beside you gives us comfort as it does you….keep moving forward, my friend!

  8. Les, I can see you as a rocker! I am one at heart myself. Keep the words flowing, sounds like you have found a very imaginative and sensitive partner that knows what you need and when you need it. that is truly a gift. Hope to get a chance to meet her.

  9. Les, I admit I did have to take a break for a while because my heart ached so much for you and your family. I especially appreciate your “rawness”.

    These are great words to live by.

    To this day Cats in the Cradle is one of my favorite songs. Such a strong message, both in his song and your blog.

    Liz said it well, there are many by your side. We’re all cheering you on.

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