With respect to Tom Hanks and his Forrest Gump quote: "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates
. You never know what you're gonna get,'" there is another way of looking at life.
Recently, I expressed my disappointment to my friend Patty that my relatives didn't have more of a sense of family.
Our dad died in 1976. When Mom passed on in 2004 I expected that my brother (who is 20 years younger), his children and my sister (five years younger), all within 20 minutes drive of me, would bond together laughing and perhaps crying as we sorted through Mom's and Dad's things, maybe sharing a pizza
as we looked at photo albums while I told them stories of our relatives.
But in the seven years since, my brother has never come to the house to help; my sister only one time. Neither has shown an interest in knowing who our grandparents, uncles, and others were or in seeing their pictures or hearing about their lives.
I told Patty how frustrating that was and how unhappy it made me feel, along with my sadness that my nieces and nephews do not call or email, even once a month to tell me what's going on in their lives and that I was pretty angry with them all.
She said her daughter complained one night about her friends letting her down and that she expected more from them. Patty told her that life is like an empty glass
and that it is up to each of us to fill our glass of life with what makes us happy.
I must have looked confused. She explained that she believed life is like having an empty glass sitting on a counter, that it will remain empty until we begin filling it with happiness and that if we wait for others to come by and put something happy in it that we will likely be forever disappointed.
But if we fill our glass with water, maybe add food coloring to brighten the water, perhaps add a flower or two
, or tie a brightly colored ribbon around it, then we will have made ourselves happy without relying on others.
I have thought of what she said and, while it is still disappointing that the relatives haven't lived up to what I expected, I have finally realized I cannot control their behavior.
Yes, it would make me happy if they added quality time together into my glass of life, but that is going to be their decision to make, not mine.
So as we head into the new year of 2012, I will not look to them for my happiness. I will fill my own glass. I may begin writing stories of our family members and leave those stories with their pictures. Then, when I am gone, perhaps my brother and sister will read them and finally come to know the wonderful people who were our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
That, then, may add some happiness to their glasses, but for me, now and in the future, I will add beauty to my glass with that colored water and some fresh flowers and enjoy memories of those who have gone before.
I will expect nothing from my relatives and thus will not be disappointed when that is what they offer.
Yes, I like a box of chocolates, but I think a glass of happiness will be a healthier and more attractive way of brightening my life.
What about you? Are you waiting for someone else to fill your glass of life with joy or will you begin filling it yourself with beauty and self-satisfaction?