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December 30, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

"I wish!" I can't begin to count the number of times I have spoken those two words over the span of more than seventy years. I'm sure I must have offered them as excuses for mistakes I have made when I wished I hadn't done or said something I later regretted. The greedy side of me sometimes came forward as I wished for more money or that unaffordable item for which I really had no need.

It seems to me that I spoke the word "wish" as often as any other word in my vocabulary. If special wishes did in fact have any chance at all of coming true, which of those thousands of wishes I made were actually special. Maybe I overused the word so often that the grantor of wishes, whoever that may be, couldn't distinguish a truly special wish from just an ordinary and commonplace use of the word.

I have wished that the tooth fairy would put money under my pillow, the school's recess bell would hurry up and ring, and I have asked for the early coming of the first warm summer's day -- all good wishes but, certainly, nothing falling into the category of life and death.

I have wished for a new Rawlings Lou Burdette model baseball glove, a Lionel electric train with a light and a stack that spewed smoke, and the arrival of snow on Christmas morning. Once again, nice things to wish for but quite ordinary at best.

There have been times when I have wished for my excess-of-junk-food-consumed-induced stomach ache to pass and I have wished that the certain girl at school would notice me. Occasionally, those wishes did come true but were the end results inevitable, nothing more or less than chance, or maybe I did something to increase the likelihood that those requests might come to fruition.

I wished that my family wasn't moving and taking me away from my friends and I have wished that I had been nicer to my Grandma Barr. Well, my family and I did move several times and, each time, I waved goodbye to my friends as we drove away. My Grandma Barr? She was a nice elderly lady who actually raised me and that wish can't now be granted. It's far too late.

My wish for more kindness toward my grandma falls into the same category of now impossible wishes to fulfill, such as spending more time with loved ones, telling people just how much I loved them, and the regrets I now have for the lack of more close and dear friends.

I wish the warm summers stayed longer and the cold winters passed more quickly. I often asked that the dark nights quickly faded away and wished that the bright sunlit mornings would stay forever. Neither of those wishes was to be realized.

There were times, and far too many, when I wished that I had accomplished more, done greater things and contributed more to the world I lived in. I guess that is a very common wish and one that many of us have asked for.

The unfinished things in my life often taunt me. Whether it was the projects that were started and left uncompleted or relationships that could have been rewarding if taken to other levels. The failure to take things to their natural completion even now taunts me.

There is little if any doubt in my mind that some things are very final and there is no changing that. I have witnessed the finality of many things but there is one, and only one thing that I wish I could at least ask to slightly modify. I wish I could spend one warm summer afternoon alone with my best friend, but that is one gargantuan wish.

Wishing is tricky business, wishing for something one day then trying to wish it away the next. Wishing for someone to pass the time with is an admirable request but one that you might regret after some time. One may find that later a wish that the person might leave is uttered, silently if you please.

I have sometimes wished that I knew just what life had in store for me but then I later wondered if I really wanted to know. Making a wish of that magnitude might be a bad thing, for maybe life was preparing to expose me to its occasional cruelty.

When I was young, I wished I was older so I didn't nap in the afternoon. Now, being no longer young, I welcome an occasional brief nap on sleepy afternoons. It's funny how the years that take us to a place we once couldn't even imagine can change the nature of our wishes. I now find that to be oh so true.

I have wished that it would stop raining and I have wished that the rain would come and end the dry spell. There have been times when I wished that it was cooler and times when I wished it were warmer. Looking back on it all, how could anyone thinking about granting my wishes know what I really wanted?

I have wished that friends would get well and recover from their ailments. However, when all hope was lost and the monstrous sickness within them was too deadly, I have wished that God would let them die and take them to be with him.

There were times over the past -- and long since passed -- years that I and others I knew and loved made the same wishes. Sometimes those wishes came true and sometimes they didn't. I guess if I were to admit the awful truth the number of unfulfilled wishes far outnumbers those that came true. Maybe some of those wishes, one in particular, were just too great to come true.

If it were possible, should I wish to live my life again? Should I ask for a do-over? I am so very weary now that the prospect of doing it again seems to exhaust me. I have made so many mistakes and have acted on so very many poor decisions, but should I do it over again? I think not, for I fear that I might again make far too many mistakes. You see, I believe that no life can be perfect and all the wishes in the world can't change that. We must just do our best and that's all we can be expected to do.

I wish that I could relieve myself of all the ill feelings I still harbor toward some, but I know I must start with the person closest to me. The hardest person to forgive is you. I wish that wasn't true.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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