I meant to

By Bill Shepard

I meant to!

I wonder how many times that line has been used? It would be hard for me to number the times they have been spoken from my own lips!

When heard or spoken, they most often carry the sound of regret over something done or not done. I could write of many instances when I have repeated the line or heard it repeated. Here are just a few! Read on:

The rain is falling and the roof is leaking, the furniture inside is getting wet, raised voices are being heard, and then the words that follow are, “I meant to repair the roof! Now it is too late, but I meant to!”

The car is stalled by the roadside, refusing to move another mile. A lone and upset man is standing by the roadside, hoping to catch a ride to some gas station! His family is sitting inside the car, the needle on the gas gauge is stuck on empty, and the word “why” is repeated over and over, and the words that follow are “I meant to!”

I thought of writing a letter to an old friend, but changed my mind and said I would call instead. Better than calling or writing, why not make a short visit when I get the time. I did neither. Word arrives that my old friend has passed away! Now it is too late, but I meant to!

Procrastination is a thief and it wears a lot of faces that rob us of our time and leave regrets behind. The words “I wish I had,” “I should have,” and “I could have,” all carry the same sound, that of regret and I meant to! Read on.

I wrote the following poem, “I Meant To,” a long time ago while living in Florida. I was retired and living in a house near the water’s edge. It was convenient for me to step out of my house and fish. I enjoyed the sport and engaged in it too often. I would arise early and with all intentions of doing some needy project about the house! The poem “I Meant To” tells the rest of the story.

“I Meant To!”

I awoke this morning with a made-up mind
To do all the things which I had let get behind.
Things neglected, not because I wished!
The reason was simple … I saw a fish!

I meant to paint the house and mow the lawn,
So I arose early, at the break of dawn.
Now I have time to do the things I wish.
At that very moment, I saw that fish!

A full 5 yards that fish must have leaped
And splashed the water almost at my feet!
I stretched and yawned, “You can’t tempt me!”
He leaped again as if to say, “We’ll see!”

I dropped what I was doing and ran for my net.
I knew right then that I had lost my bet.
I gave my net a whirl and it moved with a swish.
At that very moment, I saw that fish!

He was 30 feet on the other side,
Leaping and playing in the morning tide.
There I stood with the net in my hand,
Knowing that I lost again!

Oh yes, I meant to do lots of things today,
If that ol’ fish hadn’t started to play!
Now the day is gone and in spite of my wish,
All I have done is chase that fish!

– From “Bill’s Book of Poetry,” 1980

Author: Rachel Howell

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