GINNA PARSONS: Deaths bring an epiphany

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Over the past four days, I have grieved with, and for, two families in Northeast Mississippi. One, in Amory, said goodbye to Mimmy, a 91-year-old woman who lived an extraordinary life filled with gardening, cooking, sewing, grandchildren and great-grands, and lots of travel.
The other, in Tupelo, said goodbye to Frankie, a 43-year-old man who battled Muscular Dystrophy most of his life. But his extraordinary existence, too, was filled with the pleasures of living, including MSU football, hunting, fishing, nieces and nephews, and lots of travel.
Both were blessed to have an abundance of love, from family as well as friends.
In between the two funerals, I had the opportunity to spend time at a Cross Country meet with Bess, a friend who has recently had a heart attack – in Walmart, of all places.
Bess had a stent put in place and will take medication for at least a year to help her condition, and yet, instead of being bitter, she was nothing short of grateful.
“I’ve had 51 wonderful years,” Bess said. “I’d like God to give me another 300 wonderful years, but how selfish would that be? I’m thankful now for every single day I have. Just look at this day. The sun is shining, my kids are running. I’ve learned to find the happiness that comes with every day of my life. There’s no more pinning my happiness on what may happen tomorrow or next week, because those days may never come.”
I was struck by her honesty, her sincerity and the rawness of her recent brush with death.
And it got me to thinking.
How many times have I said, “OK, I’ll get through the laundry and the cooking and the homework today. But at the end of the month, when we go camping, we’ll have a joyous time.”
Or, “Just let me get past this week of interviewing and story-writing and interviews and then I’ll have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to relax.” But what if there is no weekend?
On Sunday while running errands around town, I heard the song, “If Today Was Your Last Day,” by Nickelback on the radio.
“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day’s a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride.”
The line, “each day’s a gift and not a given right” hit me like a punch in the stomach. Bess was right. We don’t know how many tomorrows, if any, we might have.
So here’s my recipe for today: Live like there’s no tomorrow, love unconditionally, laugh until it hurts. And have no regrets.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.