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Montana Brochures?
River Of No Regrets - Part 3

Comedian Brian Regan ( says that if you are in such a big hurry getting ready in the morning that you don’t have time to toast your Pop-Tarts for the 2 to 3 seconds the directions recommend, then you should slow your life down, and “get some Montana brochures or something.”

I expect he’s right.

Although I no longer eat Pop-Tarts as I am rushing out the door (and probably haven’t eaten any for decades), my life can easily become frazzled and frenzied with activities and obligations. This was part of my problem when I moved Mother from Arizona to Georgia to care for her. I had even cut out some responsibilities and worthy endeavors so I could devote more time to Mom.

But then . . . there were also those times when I just didn’t want to have to bother with taking care of her needs; I felt like I had enough of my own, thank you. And frankly, sometimes it was a bit irritating to me that she couldn’t even get her own groceries, or get her own mail each day (the walk down the hall at her apartment was too taxing). I thought she just needed to try harder, push herself more. But then, I did not know what pulmonary hypertension (and other ailments) felt like, did I? Maybe you are not so callous, but . . . truth be known, I think we all are a bit intolerant from time to time. Even when we know better.

It is part and parcel of our time, this age we are in, this culture which dictates our values to us in subtle ways. It teaches us that our own personal time is sacred, and must be guarded at all costs.

When my father was but a teen his own father grew very ill with hypertension, and had to be in a hospital bed at his home. Obviously, he had to quit working. Dad’s older brother was otherwise occupied, and his sister far too young to work. So my father worked in his own father’s place at the ice plant in Chattanooga (he had to lie about his age to do so, and was aided in this lie-of-necessity by a Swedish immigrant cousin of my grandfather).

I’m sure Dad had other plans for his life; other dreams that were left unfulfilled. But I never heard him complain about it. He took his place in the family, played his role. And that was that!

I know those were different times back in the mid-to-late 1930s. Nevertheless, I am struck by the example of self-sacrifice that (I suspect) was not all that unique at that time.

And it makes me wonder if I am not governed (to my own dismay and disappointment) sometimes by the desire to live my life in my own way, chart my own course, rule my own destiny. In short, make sure nothing gets me off the track I have omnisciently chosen for my life.

My father’s life was not ruined by the turn of events that forced him to work for the family as a teen. In fact, I am sure his life was enriched by this unexpected challenge. It became, in fact, an integral part of his story.

I was blessed to have my mother near me for the last couple of years of her life. I was enriched by having the responsibility of her care. If I had it to do over again, I would . . . .

But I do not. There are no do-overs when caring for your parents. What I can do, however, is try to slow my life down now. The truth is, there are others around me (family, friends, etc.) who need my time, my love, my support. They are not interruptions to my story; rather, they are an integral part. Let’s watch how it unfolds, shall we?

Anybody besides me need any Montana brochures?


  1. I can be callous and intolerant often. I think I need some Montana brochures too. I do need to put myself in another’s place sometimes to feel their pain. I imagine that was hard for your Dad, but probably did enrich his life and made him a stronger character. I know that caring for my husband has enriched my life in many ways. There were times I didn’t want to do it, but, it has made me stronger and I count it as a help someone who needs some help. I do hope I will be responsive to others around me who need my time, love & support. A counselor helped me a number of years ago also to accept the way things were in my life, accept the reality of the situation, instead of always looking at “if onlys” and “I wish it were this way”. That was a big step for me in beginning to change and to make things better..accepting my reality.

  2. How timely a series for me. On Christmas eve dad fell and broke his femur in half requiring surgery with all the requisite metal plates screws and cable wrap. I was able to travel from nashville twice to stay with him in the hospital and today he goes to rehab for extended recovery. The bulk of the care sits on the shoulders of my younger sister and then my brother helps out too. Makes me think more about how to better support her during this time. Thanks, Ivan

    1. Greg, so sorry for your Dad’s accident and resultant surgeries, etc. But glad you were able to help with his care. I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your comments, my friend. Glad the readings are timely for you.

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