No Regrets

Edith, north of Boston, once again muddling through the middle of a book.

How do we live our lives? As fully as we can? In a way so when we die we’ll have no regrets?

Edith and Richardbest

Edith and Richard, fall 2015, at the Amesbury Friends Appreciation of Richard day.

The Wickeds and many of our readers who know me on Facebook heard that I lost a very
dear friend a couple of weeks ago. Richard Gale was a man who lived his eighty-seven years to the fullest. A hundred and sixty people attended his Quaker memorial service last week, which I led in my role as Clerk of Amesbury Friends Meeting. Dozens of friends from all areas of his life stood and shared remembrances of this quiet, determined, joyful man for almost two hours.

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Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse about to receive 160 celebrants of Richard Gale’s life.

I’d only known Richard for about sixteen years, and grew closer to him and his wife Annie as every year passed. I could tell you the stories I heard of him building up his house with his own hands – even as his first wife and two daughters lived in their Indiana basement. His drive to Alaska and back with a friend – and then driving to Guatemala a couple of weeks later to donate a truck. The thousand trees Richard planted in my town and the neighboring one. His work with the Boy Scouts and local middle school students. His deep and passionate love for his second wife, Annie, which didn’t start until they met in their mid-sixties.

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Annie Tunstall and Richard Gale

And on and on. When the man saw something that needed to be done, he just did it – or corralled somebody else to help him do it. He had an aw-shucks Midwestern manner, a twinkle in his blue eyes, and both an iron determination and iron muscles. The man was singlehandedly moving granite steps at the Quaker Meetinghouse in his eighties – and then going body surfing in the frigid Atlantic. But you really don’t have time for me to pass along each delightful tale of my friend’s long life. And I have to get back to that muddled middle that is my work in progress.

When my father died at just younger than I am now, when I was pregnant with my first child, I resolved to honor him by doing the things he did, and by letting my sons know it was something Grandpa Allan did – like leaping up from the dinner table to fetch a reference volume that would answer one of his children’s questions.

Now I’m resolving to honor our darling Richard by living life without regrets. I hope I have another few decades to do it in. But if I don’t, I’m going to be damn sure every day I do have is full of determination, taking chances, reaching out to others, and having fun. Oh – and writing the best book I can. Because today is all we have, when it comes right down to it.

Readers: What do you resolve not to regret? Who is your carpe diem role model?

 

30 thoughts on “No Regrets

  1. He reminds me of a man named Chet Fulmer (who was also a Quaker). Chet was the English Dept. Chair of my high school. In my senior year I passed the English Regents but the teacher failed me on the report card. I went to Chet hoping he could help. My teacher had been in that school for 30 years and was bulletproof. Chet told me to sign up for his English class over the summer at night school and I wouldn’t even have to attend classes to get that passing grade.

    That summer Chet’s family died in a horrific fire, yet he still remembered to make sure his replacement knew to give the ghost student her passing grade to get her diploma.

    Sounds a lot like your friend, doesn’t he?

  2. What a wonderful tribute to a life well lived. And something for me to ponder as I am trying to find a way to balance things in my life right now.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. He certainly seemed to live his life to its fullest. Kudos to you for sharing your
    Dad’s passion for life with your sons.

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