Retired funeral director Pat Thompson writes that growing up in Northern Ireland her mother taught her to forebear, forgive, forget and forego
WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES AND BELIEFS THAT GUIDE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVING? THE SPEC WANTS YOU TO TELL US
Where have we been, and where are we going in life? Are we happy? Fulfilled? Are we just staying afloat? The Hamilton Spectator continues an occasional series to explore what guides readers in their day-to-day lives: the principles, beliefs and ideas that keep you going. We invite you to submit personal essays to relate your thoughts and experiences, and we will publish a series of them. The series continues today with Pat Thompson’s “The Four F’s.”
THE BOY SCOUT’S MOTTO: Be prepared. My mother’s was similar, but she called it the four F’s.
None of the four is that word, which is tossed willy-nilly into sentences nowadays.
Her four F’s have been a guide in my life: Forebear, Forgive, Forget and Forego.
When trials challenged us as children, Mother would quietly say, “Sure, it’s only sent to test your mettle” — to see if we had what another generation called “the right stuff ” to handle it.
Mother patiently told us: “To forebear was to nurture your inner strength ahead of time.” Ahead of time was the key. That way, when problems arose, you would have strength to endure it.
This was not about living your life on the edge of doom and gloom. Mother loved to laugh, sing, recite poetry and do impromptu Irish jigs. According to her, the tide of life could bring in whatever it pleased, because your bulwarks would be strong enough to face the storm.
Death, emotional or physical pain, sorrow, illness, financial worry, divorce: any of these situations can make you waver, so it makes sense to have strength in reserve.
The second F: Forgive. Forgiving yourself and others is necessary for peace of mind. “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Not divine as in, “that’s a divine hat you’re wearing,” but rather heavenly divine.
Like love, the act of forgiveness is an action. The person may not accept your forgiveness; nevertheless, you have done the right thing. This act frees your mind from harbouring the hurt.
With the act of pardon and acceptance, both parties can turn their energies back to life. Forgiveness can be an act of self-preservation, alleviating stress, and in turn, warding off illness.
Next: Forget and Forego. Mother pointed out that these two are difficult. She would say “human nature tends to return to hurts and rechew them.” Dwelling on the negative is an indication you have not forgotten. The success of forgiving is the ability to forget and disregard.
But to forego means to refuse to go to that place in your mind. Forego watering a plant and it will atrophy and die. Decide to quit the activity of remembering. Apply your thoughts and talents to higher ideals.
These Four F’s require action, and discipline and determination, to overcome prior, present and future trials in life.
But this is not a rehearsal for life. This is life.
As I write, my only son has contracted an aggressive bacteria. He has been in the ICU the past six days. Surely a time to test one’s mettle and discover if “the right stuff ” is there in reserve.
Thank you, Mother, for your guiding lights for coping with life.
Above left: Josie and daughter Pat, are pictured in Northern Ireland in the spring of 1994. Josie, 80 in this photo, died in 1998.
Above: Josie at age 80 enjoying ice cream. It soothed her sore gums. Photo taken in 1994.