On Looking Back

antique espressoThe pie server made a scraping sound in the hard-packed dirt as she finished carving the words – Stop Looking Back!

“Margaret!  What on earth are you doing?  You’ll ruin your pie server.”  Gladys stood with her hands on her hips as she read the words.  “Stop looking back?  What’s that about?”

“Don’t interrupt me, dear.  I’ve got work to do.”

“But you’ll scare the bejeesus out of them.  What will they think when they see these cryptic words next to tombstones?”

“Well, they ought to have the bejeesus scared out of them.  They’re all wasting too much time looking back.”  Margaret stood up from a crouch and walked a ways to a new spot.  She bent to scrape again.  “See that one over there?”  She pointed to a woman in a business suit.  “She’s looking back over her career and wondering where she should have taken a different turn.”  Margaret nods her head in a different direction, “That man is looking back at how he lost his family because of his focus on his business.  And the gal in the dark glasses keeps looking back at what she used to look like, making comparisons to her current self.  What a waste of time!”


Gladys brushed the dust from her skirt, “But Margaret, isn’t that the human condition?  Don’t we all lament the paths chosen and the chances not taken?  That’s the fodder for classic novels and popular movies.”

Margaret wiped her pie server on her apron, “And it’s a complete waste of time.  Look at Jon there, he never looked back over his life.”

Jon popped up his skateboard with a kick, “Ah, Margaret….  I died when I was 17, there wasn’t a heckuva lot to look back over.  But Gladys, Margaret makes a good point.  It’s like in skateboarding.  If you keep looking back, you won’t see where you’re heading.  That’s just dumb.”

Basil took a sip of coffee, “Do you mind if I chime in here ladies?  I used to spend a little time looking back at how I might have treated my girl better.  It used to scare the hell out of me.  She had every reason in the world to leave and find a better guy.  Better to look back enough to see the mistakes and make damn sure I didn’t repeat ’em.”

Margaret pointed her pie server at Basil, “See there?  He makes an excellent point.  Look back enough to chart your progress, acknowledge mistakes and make notes about new directions to take.  Don’t wallow in the mess back there!  Geez, there’s just no time for that!”

Gladys fingered the beads of her necklace.  “You know Basil, the fact that your girl stayed by your side is a fine testament to your having made the right course corrections.  Besides, what can you change when looking back.  It happened.  It’s done.  Margaret, do you have another pie server?  I’d like to help you spread that message.”




Basil laughed.  “I might have something.”  He put his coffee down to open the lid of his metal tool box.  “Margaret, be honest now.  You really never spent any time looking back?  You never spent any time on regrets?”

Margaret handed another pie server to Gladys.  “I suppose I did when I was young.  Then life got busy.  When I did look back, I did so with gratitude.  Gratitude for hugs given and received.  Gratitude for the children who blessed my life.  Gratitude for the man who stood by my side.  Gratitude for pies served and the ones that never made it to the table.”

Jon looked at Margaret in all seriousness.  “How would one of your pies never make it to the table?”

Margaret smiled, “Well, I didn’t always make a great pie, son.  It took practice.  Kind of like that board you’re always riding.”

Basil raised his cup of coffee, “Here’s to fish caught and the ones that got away.  Here’s to the love of a good woman even when I didn’t always deserve it.”

Gladys said, “Really, Basil?  In that order?  Here’s to dances missed and a filled dance card.”

Jon hopped on his board, “Here’s to the kickflips I landed, and the ones I didn’t!”

Margaret patted Jon on the shoulder, “Yes, dear.  Here’s to kick flips or missing flips or whatever that is.  Pie anyone?”



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  1. I’d like to do a few kick flips. But I’m afraid of what part of me I’d land on … (o:

  2. Pat,

    Yeah. You might consider doing a metaphorical kick flip, which is actually more fun. :)

    Will got pretty good at ’em – the real kick flips. (I’m really glad he’s done with the skateboarding phase. Of Course he broke his arm and got a concussion while skiing last year.)

  3. <3 the whole thing. The names are great, too!

  4. Jenn,

    Thanks. I might have a crush on Basil. ;)

  5. Does Basil have a brother? LOL!! Lovely message . . . thank you Jesse!

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