No Regrets

ocean, lifeguard, lifeguard stand, seashoreSightseers into Pilgrims, by Evangeline Paterson 

I used to think --
loving life so greatly --
that to die would be
like leaving a party
before the end.
Now I know that the party
is really happening
somewhere else;
that the light and the music --
escaping in snatches
to make the pulse beat
and the tempo quicken --
come from a long way
away.

And I know too
that when I get there
the music will never
end.

I chose the readings for my mom’s “Celebration-of-Life” service. I chose the music, too, based on her life and her requests. Ode to Joy. On Eagle’s Wings. Daybreak by Barry Manilow

Because of Covid restrictions, though, no singing was allowed for the socially distanced, mask-wearing church attendees, but the talented organist played the music with creative emotional panache.

My mom’s presence graced us during the celebration. She approved! After her ashes were spread at the church’s beautiful Memorial Garden, all of the family drove to her favorite place – the NJ seashore – and celebrated her joie d vivre for a week. Sand Sun Surf. Tears Laughter Love. seagulls, ocean, ocean flight, seascape

Seven days later I rode the 7-hour drive back home with my daughter and her kids in their SUV. My daughter played my kind of music – Beatles and soft rock – to keep us company on the ride. Suddenly, the beautiful Paul McCartney song – Yesterday – filled the sand-scented car. I felt a small tear escape, but overall, I just experienced grace and gratitude.

I looked over at my daughter’s expression, though, as she drove and hummed to the song. “What are you thinking?” I asked her, curious.

She smiled meekly and replied, “I’ll play this song for you at your memorial service.”

WHAT?

I barked out a laugh and then replied, “Absolutely not! ‘Yesterday’ is about regrets. I have no regrets. (And I thought, I have several more decades to live, thank you very much.)

“Oh, okay,” she said, surprised.

In My Life by the Beatles would be perfect,” I added. “That song says it all.”

We smiled as we sped down the highway toward home.

Ocean City NJ, lifeguard rowboad

WHAT SONG FLOATS YOUR BOAT?

 

 

162 thoughts on “No Regrets

  1. This is a beautiful post, Pam. I’m so happy to know that you and your daughter and her kids went to your mom’s celebration of life service. I love your choice of reading and music. I laughed also when your daughter said she would play Yesterday at your memorial service. She probably meant well and meant to remember you. It was good that you pointed that song was about regret, and she picked another song that you liked. I hope you and your family will rest well after a long drive home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • So right, Miriam. My daughter heard me singing “Yesterday” out loud since she was a baby. It’s a beautiful tune and I could sing it in alto. But the older I get, the more I realize that there is NO WAY I wish yesterday returned. 🙂 Here’s to celebrating NOW and loving all those “In (our) Life.” ❤

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  2. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, Pam. I’m happy you and the family spent time at the shore, creating new memories and remembering your mother. My song of choice would be Bridge Over Troubled Waters…my mother’s favorite song…when she remembered. I’ve been thinking about you. ❤

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  3. I’m so happy to hear all went well, and it sounds like a lovely service and vacation. I was thinking about you in OC.
    My younger daughter sang “In My Life” at my mom’s 90th birthday party.

    I have no idea what we’d play if we ever have a memorial service for my mom–and getting siblings to agree is another matter. 😏 She didn’t have a favorite song, and I don’t either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So fantastic learning that your daughter sang “In My Life” for your mom’s 90th. W O W. A few years ago I was with my sister-in-law (my guy’s sister) when she was trying to decide with her son, my nephew, what song they should select at his upcoming wedding for the mother-son dance. I suggested “In My Life” and that’s exactly what they chose. ❤
      Glad we were in OCNJ the week before, not this one with the tropical storm. NJ sure knows how to do "HOT" and "SUNNY" at the seashore. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dearest sweet, awesome, wonderful, beautiful Pam…..OMG….I am actually literally crying 😢 reading this beautiful blog of yours! You have such a beautiful way with words my dear precious old friend! Such a beautiful and soul inspiring tribute to your beautiful mom and to life! I love 💕 everything about it….love 💜 your choices for songs, and your sweet memories of your sweet mom….love ❤️ that you could get to her favorite place….the Jersey shore! I also love 💗 that you could spend such wonderful quality time with your own beautiful daughter! May your precious memories of your dear mom last you a lifetime……love 💜 your enthusiasm that you have decades left to live! And I love ❤️ you too sweet Pam! God bless you and your loving family my friend! Hugs 🤗 🌈🙏💗

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  5. What a beautiful memorial Pam. Your mother would have approved. I remember both my father and my mother’s funeral in Germany. I read some German poems. I have several songs I told my husband to play at my memorial but I haven’t decided which one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you might get some good ideas by reading the comments in this post. It’s fascinating to me to learn of songs that other readers cherish and and feel that the songs express their life. It’s really neat. The good news is that we don’t have to worry about it for a long time but we can enjoy listening to the music throughout our lives. ❤️🙏💜

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  6. My dear Pam, tears “escape” reading this beautiful tribute, an inter-generational one. I predict that you will “love more” in the next life as the Beatles song seems to suggest. And you will NEVER Ever lose affection.

    Your post got me thinking about choice of hymns for a memorial service. Sometimes I find suggestions in other writers’ books. These two, I think, came from either an Anne Tyler or Elizabeth Berg book: “Brother James Air,” with lyrics from Psalm 23 and “Sheep May Safely Graze.” Great is Thy Faithfulness” is also a contender. Another thought: Black, gray, and navy are often wore my guests to show respect, but I fancy bright colors. How about you?

    There is both pain and joy when a loved one passes on. The blessed hope is that love is eternal!
    Huge thanks for this inspiring post!! ((( )))

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s beautiful, Pam. And “no regrets” is right! By the way, we love Ocean City – a vacation destination 🙂 Glad to have you back and I know just what you mean about the light and music coming from a place far away. 🧡

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your choices sound perfect for the celebration of your Mom Pam. Going to the ocean shore a soothing calm. I’ve already told my daughter I would like the song ‘ I Lived” by one Republic. Although Like you I plan to be around for decades to come. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful post, Pam!
    And oh, I so love Barry Manilow – such a perfect song to choose.
    I had to smile during your exchange with your daughter and agree – Yesterday is not a good choice 😉 My father, bless him, basically told us what songs he wanted in his memorial and we definitely respected his wishes, while adding a few more.
    The songs we choose for our loved ones really do represent them.
    Wonder what my family will choose for me one day? What songs they think would fit. Now I’m curious…but in no rush!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve given me a great idea, Dale. Could you see this question being asked at a family gathering (like a holiday?). “WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PICK THAT DESCRIBES ME, OR MY LIFE? That could be mind-bending! Or how about at a friends’ party? However, I wonder if some of the choices could end some friendships? ;–0 I think you should chose your own songs NOW and enjoy them all of your long life ahead. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mind you, I have certain songs that I’ve associated with various people. Like I found out a friend thinks of me when she thinks of one.
        So, I’m thinking it would be a fun thing to do – noting we can’t allow friendships to crumble…
        And yes! 💞

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  10. Lovely post Pam thank you, it sounds all went well and meaningfully. Love the poetry at beginning of your post. First song that came immediately to mind when you posed the question is ‘Sorrow’ David Bowie but next thought was ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ The Drifters. So that one would be my choice. It’s an interesting question re tribute/eulogy etc plus choice of music at one’s funeral – have a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the way you think, Susan. Original! “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters is sweet and classic. David Bowie of course was such an intellectual musician, and his last album about life/dying is extremely profound and beautiful. Well, here’s to our long life ahead enjoying and dancing to the music. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks so much for sharing. I love reading your memories of your Mom and we have enjoyed her blueberry buckle. Your Mom and I were in chapter H and even after we moved to Florida she and I always roomed together at International conventions. I must confess that we played more than attended meetings. She was a great friend. Blessings, Lil Rea

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your celebration of life service sounds like it was perfectly in keeping with your mother’s memory. I’m thinking that you’re smart to nix Yesterday. It’d be too maudlin for you. I like Ode to Joy. In fact it was the recessional at our wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a beautiful tribute to your mother Pam. I love how you celebrated with music and then continued on your road trip with your daughter. It would be hard for me to choose just one song so I’ll go with the Beatles (Let it Be, Imagine) and Beach Boys (Good Vibrations, Don’t Worry Baby, God Only Knows). Now I’m thinking about music and the beach. I’m overdue for some beach time. Big hugs…❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, you know how happy I am that you were able to make the trip to the Jersey shore. Your mother’s memorial service must have been a lovely, bittersweet experience, and the poem and the songs are just beautiful. I do love “Ode to Joy” and “On Eagles’ Wings,” as well as Barry Manilow. I love the “I’ll Fly Away” medley (you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIwp_c7HT6M) and it’s perfect for goodbyes that are tinged with both sadness and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for sharing this terrific story…music indeed has the ability to soothe us, inspire us, and anger us to at times…classic Beatles is hard to beat, but lately my wife and I have been listening to Stevie Wonder’s entire “Songs In The Key Of Life” album…a tapestry of music and emotion…we saw him perform it all live several years ago, and one of his singers onstage is the daughter who is featured laughing at the end of “Isn’t She Lovely!”

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  16. This was a beautiful tribute to your mother, Pamela. I agree Yesterday is about regret and always brings a tear or two listening to it. You choose a great song, In My Life, and approach to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To a joyful, grateful approach about our life, and the life of our loved ones when it’s time for them to pass. So hard to say goodbye, but as one reader suggested for a memorial song, “Hello Goodbye” leads to more hellos in a different space. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I loved the poem you read at your mother memorial. How appropriate. As I’ve said to you before, our true life begins when we leave our earthly body behind. And, I laughed outloud at your reaction to “Yesterday.” I agree. Even though it may be decades away, I think it’s a good idea to write what music you want played, the poems and other readings. Love how you all celebrated at the beach! Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pat. And thanks for laughing (with me) at my daughter’s comment. Another reader said she went to a recent funeral where they played “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles. Isn’t that great? Because we never really say goodbye, do we? ❤

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  18. You make me cry then laugh out loud here. I’m happy you were able to get there. Loved the songs. The title is the most important part. Is there a song “No regrets? That would be mine. This has given me food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it wonderful how poems and songs can express our feelings in such beautiful ways?. Thank you so much for joining me here. I always love that you visit and we connect so beautifully despite the miles between us. One of these days it would be glorious to visit your beautiful part of the country.

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  19. A beautiful, poignant poem, Pam. “…based on her life and her requests.” I was not familiar with “Daybreak” and especially the words in the song. I see the message your Mother wanted to share. ❤️ The photo montage is also breathtaking.

    Interesting on the “no singing.” How life has changed in a few short months. Tears brimming reading about your ride home. I can even smell the “sand-scented car.” This drive home, creating a new memory. Then reality-check and smile. Planning your memorial service. Rest assured. Not for a very long time). After several more decades “In my life” is a perfect song. No regrets. Hugs Pam to you and your loved ones.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love being surprised by the comments of loved ones. This one by my daughter really made me stop and think! 🤭🙃 It also made me realize that listening to songs with others really helps us know how we each think and what our philosophy of life is.
      And yes, I know many churches are still not opened but my mom’s in Delaware had just opened the week before our service for her. Everyone wore masks and socially distance. Only families who live together are allowed in a pew together. And no singing allowed because of the potential spread of the virus. But still, lots of music surrounded the space. 🙏💜

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  20. I love the words from Evangeline Patterson. That is a healthy attitude to adopt. I’m glad that you were able to have a Celebration-of-Life for your mom. That hasn’t been practical for some, and this type of closure is essential. I also like your musical choices for your mom.

    People should know the wishes of their loved ones in advance, so it’s a good thing that you had that conversation with your daughter. Many people avoid the subject because they think it is too morbid. My parents had all of their wishes written down, and that made things so much easier because so one wants to make tough decisions after their loved one has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never read the poetry of Evangeline until I was planning my mom‘s service. I wanted to find a poem that was accessible for my 12-year-old granddaughter, who read the poem at the service. Plus, my mom loved a good party so this was perfect for her. 😏 I wasn’t sure I wanted to blog about a memorial service and plans for our own death but, particularly in America, everyone seems to want to avoid the subject which just doesn’t make sense. Thank you so much for your comments Pete!

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  21. It sounds like the perfect “Celebration of Life” ceremony and seashore time to commemorate your mom, Pam. I think focusing on the joy beats focusing on the tears during such events.

    I’ve always liked the song “Yesterday”, but in typical Belgian fashion, never listened to the lyrics. Since English was not a language we spoke when growing up, the tunes were more important than the words. Even now, I rarely listen to lyrics, sometimes even using non-existing words as that’s what I remember from my time “before English”. I guess I better start listening to the lyrics, before I recommend a song for my funeral…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Liesbet, your comment really made me smile. How fascinating that you rarely listen to the lyrics. But perhaps that shows that you are an ingrown musician, really being attracted to the music and the tune and less the words. But I recommend that you hit the links here to the two songs and listen to both the lyrics of Yesterday and of In My Life. Then maybe you’ll see what I mean. 💖

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  22. Daybreak! Not a choice I’ve ever heard for a service but beautiful. I love Barry’s emotions in his songs. I’m sorry for your loss but so appreciate and understand the words you wrote about your mom. What a beautiful send off. I used to keep a list of songs to play at my service. I’m not sure where it went. It’s probably a list of 200 songs by now. 🙂

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  23. Good choices! Glad you got some sun & fun time in. I’m sure your mom beamed down on all!

    Lots of songs float my boat:

    Born to Be Wild
    Dream On
    More Than A Feeling

    But for my memorial, maybe . . . Knocking on Heaven’s Door

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  24. Love this lovely way to hold your Mom in your heart always! She was sooo much fun!!! The life of the party!!!
    My song was James Taylor “Shower the People You Love With Love” ❤️❤️❤️

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  25. What a poignant, powerful exchange with your daughter. Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate your mother’s life and glad you got to weigh in on the song you want to celebrate yours — but all in good time! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. I had not expected a need to start “weighing in” on my song choice after my demise, but the good thing is that it got me (and those who read this post) thinking about our life NOW. What’s wonderful, Elizabeth, is the positive joyful songs everyone is choosing. And the fun ones, like “Knock Knock Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” 🙂 ❤

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  26. Just sitting quietly listening to the music of your heart playing to and from all your loved ones. I love how you celebrated your mom, and how you were able to share something new and true with your daughter. xoxoxo

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  27. I’m glad you were able to have a meaningful service for your mom, even during these times of Covid. The choice of music was perfect. And I agree with your choice for your own service, whenever that happens…. Such a lovely tribute to your mother, and a post written straight from the heart. Peace to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK you for your comment, Ann. Yes, sharing these personal moments (and songs) is difficult in some ways, but in other ways, it’s so fabulous, hearing the response of others here, and listening to their choices of songs that describe their life. The songs are all so JOYFUL and happy. Makes my heart sing. ❤

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  28. Sounds like a perfect way to farewell your mum – treasured memories. In My Life is a good song to choose for your own farewell, when you join the party in which the music plays forever. My choices are Van Morrison ‘Moondance’, my favourite of all-time and Precious Time, also a favourite but as a reminder to all those who remain to make the most of what they have.

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  29. I love “In My Life” by the Beatles, too. I’m glad the celebration of your mom’s life went so well and that you could be surrounded by your family. It was a lovely way to remember her. (Reminds me of how after my father’s memorial gathering at the cemetery we all went to the house we rented and ate our way through a huge bag of in-shell peanuts while watching a football game on TV, one of my dad’s favorite things to do.) “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac floats my boat.

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  30. It sounds like a thoughful send-off for your mom, and thoughtful celebration too. So many tunes float my boat. One day I might like something slow rock or something like The Beatles, and another day I might like something more upbeat – depends on my mood. Hope you are doing alright, Pam.

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    • Music is definitely attached to our moods, and can affect our moods in many ways. When I need to be calm (like when reading and writing) I listen to classical. When I need to get up and going, I listen to upbeat rock n’ roll. Music is such a gift to us human beings. Here’s to always listening to songs that float our boat. 🙂

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  31. Those sound like wonderful choices for your mother Pam. For me the song that always does is is ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone. I like versions that have been done by other people too, but Nina’s is the one that’ll be singing me out on my last big adventure 🙂

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    • Hi Jennifer. Thanks for giving a thumbs up to In My Life. I think a lot of people have discounted that song – not one of the Beatles most popular – but to me it’s one of the most beautiful love songs – to those who are important in our life, and to life itself. ❤

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  32. I am so glad your Mom’s Celebration of Life service went well, Pam. I love your choice of poetry and music and also your choice of ‘My Life’ for your own service, whenever that might be. I think it is the best idea to talk about and plan funeral services and the choice of words and music well in advance of the actual occasion. It can be very satisfying to do and it will save one’s relatives so much trouble! I have thought of a few hymns but haven’t yet decided on the reading or the music. I have a few ideas and probably will change my mind many times as I get older. A few years ago I thought that I’d have ‘Heaven’ by Chris Rea. I still love the song but the lyrics don’t completely make sense so I probably won’t have that one. I loved Liesbet’s comment about rarely listening to the lyrics and how she used to think the music more important than the words. When I was a girl I hardly ever listened to the lyrics as I always focused on the music. Admittedly, the poor quality of the recording often meant the lyrics weren’t very clear!

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    • Thanks for introducing this song to me, Clare. I didn’t know Heaven by Chris Rea, and I must say, it’s beautiful. This is one of those songs that maybe the lyrics don’t make total sense, but with that soft melodic music, the listener knows that heaven is a heavenly place. 🙂 I found it fascinating that Liesbet didn’t use to listen to lyrics. But it’s true, when we were young and the song recordings weren’t as clear as they are now, many times I guessed or made up my own lyrics to the song. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my, OF COURSE!! My “Favorite Things” is a perfect joyful lovely song for a memorial service. I wonder if we’d change the lyrics a little to include “writing” and “reading” and “blogging” as some of our favorite things in our life. 🙂 xo

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  33. So beautiful. What a lovely tribute to your mom. And, yes, the Beatles seem to have a song for every occasion. At my brother-in-laws funeral they played “Hello Goodbye,” which I always thought an excellent choice.
    “I don’t know why you say, “Goodbye”, I say, “Hello” (hello, goodbye)”

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  34. Oh Pam – now you’re going to have me ruminating for the rest of the day on what music I would like in my final farewell. It would have to be something rather upbeat with a hint of whimsy.

    It sounds like your mom’s farewell was a good one. I love this poem. Normally I struggle to ‘get’ poetry, but this one speaks of both peace and hope ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoy poetry that “speaks” to the reader immediately, not the kind that you have to struggle with (and know the poet’s entire bio) to understand. My 12-year-old granddaughter read this poem at the service and understood the message, since her great-grandmother loved to party. 🙂 So, listen to “your” music all life long, Joanne.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Pam, an incredible post on what must be the hardest topic … your family celebration of your mother’s life moves me to tears – your unity and love shining through. So much heart in what must be a heartbreaking time for you! I’m sending hugs across the ‘pond’ to you.

    As for a song – my mother and I had a wonderful evening listening to music last night and we kept returning to ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Russell Watson – heartstopping beautiful! For moments when my courage needs a boost this is my song!

    With much love xx ❤️

    ps. I hope the vast moving and thoughtful comments have given you a lift during your time of loss. I can feel the warmth and care in them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Oh, Pam, this was so beautiful. I read this when you first posted it but then because I didn’t comment right away it got away from. Tonight, when I posted to your lastest blog post I knew I had to come back here. She was so blessed in life and somehow I think that she will be blessed above as she waits for you when the time is right…I love all the choices for the songs and I do have to listen to those. What a wonderful gift to be able to see your Mom home and then spend such quality time during a pandemic with your family…Sending you a virtual hug my friend…

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