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On the Bright Side

My friend Vicki emailed me a copy of the following letter, which was reportedly written by an 83-year-old woman to her friend. I haven't been able to find out who wrote it originally, and you'll note it is a bit dated (i.e. the grocery costs), but the words are wise and as true today as they ever were.

In keeping with my last missive on being thankful for the little things, I think this speaks to that effort, as well.

So, I wish to dedicate the words in this letter to all of you who find a way to stay young at heart and active of spirit – and joyful in an ongoing celebration of life – no matter what your age or your circumstances, especially in these trying times:

Dear Bertha,

I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries.

I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see it and hear it and do it now.

I'm not sure what others would've done had they known they wouldn't be here for the tomorrows that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was. I'm guessing; I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Now, don't you think Bertha's friend has the right idea about things?

I do. I like the idea of celebrating the small moments by using the good dishes. I know people who save the good dishes to use only on BIG special occasions (I used to be one of them) ... and then we're all afraid to eat on them for fear one will get chipped or something. What joy do the good dishes bring if you're afraid to use them?

I also know people who cover the furniture in plastic so it won't get ruined. But why bother to get nice things if you have to keep them covered and hidden because you're afraid they'll get worn or soiled? I like the idea of using and enjoying what you have whenever you feel like it.

I used to think I should save special treats (as in food or drink) for special times until a college friend's mother taught us that everyday is special and we didn't have to wait for something big or significant to happen in order to enjoy our treats. What a great lesson that was, a reminder to celebrate every day.

I'm happy to be passing this on to all of you today because we've all been through a lot these past couple of years. If there ever was a time to let go a little and enjoy, that time is now.

Use, wear, drink, eat, give, say, do, be, see, go, learn, know, laugh, love, LIVE!

© 2021 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local photographer/writer and owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at [email protected].