For Mother’s Day, I called up my Gran to see if she had any pearls of wisdom. Let’s see if this counts.
MY Gran said her biggest regret in life was she never learned how to ride a horse.
It was an inconsequential skill to regret, she said, but her regret was a good one to have.
She was born in the Great Depression when, as far as she remembered, there was no such thing as Mother’s Day in Australia.
It was an American import after the Second World War, she said.
Even so, she loved it because it was a reason to spend time with family.
Through it all she never missed a Sunday Mass until coronavirus restrictions.
Going to Mass at St Finbarr’s, Ashgrove, was what she missed the most living under the current restrictions, she said.
She raised four children, six grand-children and had one great-grandchild.
After 48 years as a mother and homemaker, she saw a television advert for a court reporter job.
“I didn’t know how to use a typewriter,” she said.
My Pop, who died almost nine years ago, rented a typewriter for two weeks so she could practice typing in order to pass the occupational typewriting exam.
She went on to be a court reporter for 11 years.
“This dog can learn new tricks,” she would often say.
Perhaps I should take a leaf out of my Pop’s book and rent her a horse for two weeks.
Recently, she learned how to video-chat using her tablet with help from my dad.
My family crammed together to fit in the shot so she could see us all at once.
It made her remark how much the world had changed through inventions, and it made me think about our lasting inventions.
Bombs and bullets are terrible inventions but, like most terrible things, they by their very nature cannot last.
Their nature is to divide.
That’s what they’re designed to do, so much so the invention itself shatters to shrapnel.
But our lasting inventions, by their nature, last.
And as much as the incidental cogs and gears had changed from my Gran’s era of “having the only telephone on the street” to tablets that video-call in every house, it remains that our best
inventions – the ones we want – are the ones that last.
The ones that connect.
The Catholic in me says they are the ones that ‘commune’.
That is what the good life is about – communion, and all its reflections across our lives.
My Gran’s regret about never learning how to ride a horse was a good one, not because she was going to ride off like John Wayne into the sunset, but because she wanted to take that horse so she could see friends and family.
And as far as regrets go, that’s a good one to have.