Speak now or forever hold your peace...

I try very, very hard not to live my life with regrets.  We are only going in one direction, forward.  No amount of begging, pleading or pretending can turn back the hands of time; that much I know is true.


However, I do feel the occasional gnawing at my soul of a long ago, impulsive move that may have been someone’s Tiny Moment.  You remember those – many of us think about those tiny moments that change our lives.


I’ve often thought back to that April of my 21st year.  My very best friend and sorority sister Sally and I convinced each other that instead of sending out resumes like all of the responsible level-headed graduates at the University of Oregon, we would take one last summer at the beach.  It was a brilliant plan.  As an afterthought, I thought we should also include my sister.  Instead of going to college, she spent those four years in our hometown helping my mother make ends meet at her tiny gift shop.


That summer we all worked various jobs – waitressing, bartending, maid-service – and met a ton of fun people. Yeah, we basically lived the good life.  As the summer came to an end and the vacationers dwindled, I decided to drive to California with two people I had worked with that summer.  (I STILL can’t believe my mother let me go.  That was a very brave thing for her to do.)   


My sister decided to stay at the beach with several girlfriends she met while working at a large oceanfront hotel.  


For many, many years I felt horrible about taking my sister from her home and our widowed mother.  (Our mother died after a fall in a friend’s kitchen just several years later.)  The guilt ate away at my heart bit by bit.


Finally, about five years ago, I got up the nerve to talk to her about it.  


“You know, I always felt bad about talking you into coming to the beach that summer- away from mom.  I think about it all the time.  I am so sorry…”


“What?  WHAT?? Are you kidding me?   That was the best thing that anyone ever did for me!  I got out of that little town and lived!  It was absolutely wonderful, and I want to thank you for that.  So here it is- Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Now shut up and give me a piece of sour dough bread- and that HUGE piece of Brie.” 



WeaselMomma said...

Sounds like a summer that was very good for the soul. I'd bet for all 3 of you.

Janine / Being Brazen said...

Sounds like an amazing summer

Hit 40 said...

I left a rusted out town about 3 hours away for a better city with jobs. No regrets either.

My mom has never got over it!! But - If I had stayed, I would never have had the same life. Just no work in my old home town.

Not many of my friends left. Some never really got a job. It takes real courage to leave for the summer or move even 3 hours away.

Patsy said...


Patsy said...

I understand that kind of gnawing regret, only I know that I deserve to regret, whereas you did not. It is a very powerful feeling. I apologized and was told, just like you were told, that it was just not that way, that I didn't need to apologize.

I think they were just saying that not to have to admit that they were hurt.


mommakin said...

What a great story. I never did anything like that - a summer working at the beach - though I did up and move whenever the spirit moved me. Sounds like it was indeed a great move for your sister as well. No worries. And pass that brie, wouldja?

Irish Gumbo said...

And a good time was had by all. Maybe your mom knew something and that's why she let you go.

Lovely piece, VM. No regrets, dear, no regrets...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you spoke with her about it. She probably had no clue it had been bothering you all this time.

Don't you feel much better now having talked about it? I think so!

The Blue Ridge Gal

Unknown said...

Yep, Blue Ridge Gal hit the nail on the proverbial head. Too bad you hadn't spoken to her about it sooner so that you would have unburdened yourself of the guilt only you felt! Isn't it terrible how we beat ourselves up!

Unknown said...

What a beautiful story. It's funny how we think the things we do are "bad" or "never enough" and we let it eat at us for so long. I can imagine the great weight that was lifted off of your shoulders when she thanked you.

We are all put here for a reason. Never doubt what you do or who you are

The Peach Tart said...

How wonderful for you to get that needless worry off your chest....it seems you gave your sister a great gift

Kevin McKeever said...

If that's all you had to feel guilty about, good for you.

Anonymous said...

I should have had a time like that. But then who knows if I'd be here now, with this life? I nearly took a year long job as a live in nanny in CT, (an hour outside of NYC!!!!). But chickened out and stayed in the midwest. I always have wondered what would have happened. Oh well, I am happy.

Madge said...

what a great story. i've had that happen to me a couple of times -- not the great summer at the beach (boo) but finding out someone else's perspective is completely different then mine -- and finding out i was carrying around a bunch of worry and guilt for nothing.

mo.stoneskin said...

Funny how a regret can often have no truth in it. Not always mind, but so many times have I been beating myself up when it turns out the other person was not offended, holding a grudge or in the slightest bit affronted.

Brie huh? Surely it should be a fine creamy Saint Agur?

Anonymous said...

What a relief for you. I'm glad your sister had the chance to enjoy life.

Rebecca said...

I bet that felt so good to know she had the best time!!!!

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

funny thing about regrets...someone else perspective about it? blows you shit right out of the water.

live it mama. and pass the bread :)

Rick Daley said...

It's better to regret the things you have done than to regret the things you haven't done.

me in the pink said...

What a great story. And you sound like a great sister as well!

Ann Imig said...

Funny how little we really know about the many things we accept as a given.

Boozy Tooth said...

Yay! I love stories with happy endings. Surprise happy endings are even better. But the BEST part of your post is in the title... Absolutely No Regrets.

You get it Vodka Mom. And I love you for that.

DKC said...

A wonderful post. It's hard to live with no regrets - I can tend to dwell on the past too often. Moving forward, that's a good notion to remember.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That's so sweet :)

Belle said...

And it took you all this time to find out the good news...

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think I do this kind of thing too. I have so much guilt for the few times I did something unkind or selfish (I was a really nice kid - much nicer than I am now - so there aren't THAT many). How brave of you to put it out there not knowing what the outcome would be.

Life As I Know It said...

sounds like it was a good summer for everyone.
Isn't it nice, though, to find peace when something has been rattling around in the back of your head for so many years?

Joanie said...

So your sister had the best summer of her life and you were feeling guilty over nothing. I'm glad it turned out well.

I think the only real regrets I've had were keeping my mouth shut at times when I should have stood up for myself.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

The best thing you did was finally talking about it with your sister so you can put that guilt in a locked drawer.

Jenni said...

I am glad you got that off your chest! It is good tho get those things "out there"!

And the next time you decide to take off to the beach for them summer. PLEASE... for the love of God....CALL ME.

SkylersDad said...

I try and live my life with no regrets also, but they tend to keep popping back into my life to remind me of poor decisions.

Ivanhoe said...

And you would have never known if you did not ask... :o)

Sprite's Keeper said...

You carried all that guilt for nothing? Not even a "well, you did wear a horrendous shirt one day that summer which truly offended me" comment to make all that guilt worthy?! And now you're supposed to forget about all those years your inner turmoil ate at you? In my family, you could turn that guilt into a grudge and hold it against your sister.

Michel said...

How wonderful!! I'm really glad you said something b/c otherwise you never would have known that you did something amazing for her!

Accept it for what it is, and don't dwell on the past!

♥ Braja said...

YEAH I got a comment:


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i have some regrets too. i don't know what to do about them either. i will study on your post a bit i think...

smiles, bee

oh what the hell, if they can't take a joke, well just **** 'em! i changed my mind! ps

Samantha said...

One persons regret is another persons saving grace!

My sister (older) regrets staying at home and taking care of us while our mother was otherwise incapacitated and though I know it was not the best thing for her it literally gave my brother and I a semi-normal childhood.

La Belette Rouge said...

Do you regret not going to OSU instead of UofO? I had to ask or my Beaver believing husband would make me regret it.;-)

blognut said...

Isn't it amazing how we can go for years torturing ourselves over something that had such good meaning in someone else's life? I'm glad you guys talked about it and you were able to put it to rest.

Captain Dumbass said...

Ah, self torture. Just think if you'd apologized years ago, all the pain you would have saved yourself. Excuse me, my conscious just slapped me in the back of the head.

Captain Dumbass said...

Also, did you notice you have a giant sex toy as one of your followers?

Dumb Mom said...

I always wished I would have taken one of "those" summers. I went straight from HS to college to mommyhood. Maybe I can get one when these little dudes are done mooching off me. Love your blog. Came by from SITS:)

Suzy said...

I once told my sister that I caught her (I was 15 and she was 13) kissing my boyfriend in the south of France. (My mom always sent us to other families FAR AWAY so we woulc learn French) After I told her she replied "I don't remember that at all."


Formerly known as Frau said...

Don't you just love sisters and we worried for nothing! Sorry about your mom. Sounds like you have terrific memories. Have a great week.

Brenda Susan said...

What a wonderful post! I am glad you spoke to your sis about it & it turned out to be athing not to regret at all.
My sons (grown) have reassured me several times that some of the things I have apologized for were not as awful as I remember them.
I love your blog!

suzanneelizabeths.com said...

it's amazing how our mind plays tricks on us, isn't it?

Sandee said...

Our perceptions can be really off. This is a perfect example. All those years of unwarranted guilt.

Have a terrific day. :)

peewee said...

awwww...what a sisterly moment!! Isn't it funny how we can spend so many years thinking the wrong thing!!

Sharon Rose said...

Ah. . . that you have a wonderful sister who followed you to an amazing Summer that holds many memories I am sure.
As the older sister, I have influenced my sister in many ways. One of which she followed me and moved so far away from home. A few years later our mother got ill. A few years beyond that, she died.
If I hadn't had that time, with my sister, I'm not sure we could have held onto each other through the grief!
Good job, Sister. . . you did the right thing!


Great story. Aren't you glad you got it off your chest? How nice to find out your sister had been looking at it her very own, very different way. :o)

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeedy: Perception IS reality.

And I've always wanted: "Absolutely No Regrets" on my tombstone. I don't think there's any other way to have truly lived my life.

(I got the "ANR" phrase from the last line in a Madonna song called, "Human Nature". I thought "ANR" would be a better epitaph than the other line in the song, "I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.")

Well, maybe the jury's still out on that!

Kate Lord Brown said...

VM - 'that' summer is the one we all remember, no wonder your sister cherishes it. It's our 'Mystic Pizza' moment when everything seems possible x

Desert Songbird said...

I'm glad you found out the truth. Now there really ARE no regrets.

laughingwolf said...

lovely how things work out :)

Musings of the Mrs. said...

Ah the summer between college and real life. GOOD TIMES. Weird that we wrote about brie and sourdough on the same day. A woman after my own heart.

anymommy said...

Just goes to show that sometimes we let our perspective on something become too central. What I mean is, (I totally do this), we put our role in things that happen as larger than it is - and take on too much guilt and worry as a result.

MsFish said...

Amen. :)

Anonymous said...

she totally should have made you feel guilty for it, just to score chocolate.

Char said...

Isn't it nice to exchange your old regret to one that's only "I regret that I didn't tell her sooner".

Anne said...

#1 - Been loving you until you slide that damn U of O reference in there. We have so much else in common and you had to ruin it with a DUCK! Ugh...

#2 - My sister and I have often been sharing memories of events (some good, some not-so-good) from our earlier days. It amazes me how our perception of the exact same event are so totally different. We have at different times apologized for an event that has weighed on us..and the other one hasn't even remembered about the wrong-doing until it was brought up. (Aren't guilty consciences great?)

#3 - Beavers rule, ducks drool.

#4 - You still crack me up. I will keep following...though I may deny it.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Love, love, love your relationship with your teacher.

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a wonderful story. I love your sister's response to your apology-- now pass the brie!

Joanie said...

Your sister is right, she had to get out of there, get away, live a little. And I think your mom knew that.

Trust your gut. Your gut said to do it and it was right.

Da Goddess

AS Amber said...

I love your sister. You two are so blessed to have each other. Nobody knows this better than you.

This post reminded me of a book I just finished. It's called "Firefly Lane". So freaking good.

If you get a chance you should give it a try.

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