Living a Life of No Regrets: A Reflection and Response to Carolyn Rosenblatt’s Article

My grandmother’s eyes always sparkled with laughter, even after surviving a stroke, her kindness never diminished. She exuded love and lived for her family. She wasn’t famous, she didn’t break down barriers fighting in the feminist movement, wasn’t a writer or producer, but she was the center of our family. She lived for her family, delighted in raising her 3 children, and always found a certain humor when, at the end of every summer, she reminded her many grandchildren that school was going to start soon.

I read an article recently written by Carolyn Rosenblatt about lessons we can learn from elders about living a life with no regrets. When she spoke of the lesson we could learn to “focus on the good, enjoy the moment, laugh a lot, and tell those dear to you that you love and appreciate them daily” My grandmother’s smiling face popped into my head.

While the individual who Carolyn spoke about in her article was well known, I think an important point to note is that professional success isn’t necessary to live a happy life and age with peace and understanding. Whether a housewife like my Grandmother (a very full-time job in my grandmother’s case, with 2 rambunctious boys running around) worked for the phone company, were a chef, or any job in-between, love, laughter and family are more important than any success in the business-world.

My grandmother passed away quite a few years ago, and I don’t think anyone in my family will ever stop missing her. I wonder if she ever thought about regrets she had as she grew older. Or instead, if the memories were of dancing with her husband, of playing baseball with her son, taking care that he ran right across the painted white lines of the baseball field and how- even though she cursed it, she secretly really missed the Siamese cat that found pleasure in tearing her stockings every time she passed.

I can never say if my grandmother had any regrets, and indeed it was certainly no one’s place to ever ask. But I can say that my grandmother saw the good in everyone, filled the house with warmth and laughter and always spread nothing but love and kindness to those she cared about. Her impact upon our family is immense and lasting, even though she’s gone. The lightness of her spirit and echoes of her laughter still flow through the halls of the house. Her love and kindness has made all of us-children to great-grandchildren, better people because of it.

Perhaps the answer to the question of having regrets doesn’t matter at all. To be surrounded by love, life and laughter and pass that legacy on. Perhaps that’s what really matters.


-Michelle McGonagle

Proud Granddaughter of Mary McGonagle