A woman of valor died recently.
Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne Frank and her family for two years from the Nazis, at great personal risk, died at the age of 100. Ms. Gies also hid the diary Anne Frank kept, a testament to optimism that has inspired the world.
In an NPR interview replayed on her death, Ms. Gies said she never felt she was doing anything heroic. She felt she did what she did because she would have lived with regret for the rest of her life if she had not acted.
Ms. Gies also rejected the term hero because she felt she had done nothing heroic. She wanted people to know that you didn't have to be extraordinary to do special things.
I disagree with Miep Gies about her heroism. She truly was heroic. However, I understand what she meant about not having regrets. Sometimes you do the right thing because you will feel better and not live with the regret of having passed an opportunity.
Few of us are going to do what Miep Gies did, but many of us can do something extra so that we won't have regrets.
Perhaps you've been putting off that colonoscopy, prostate exam or mammogram because of the discomfort. Your loved ones have been nagging you and you always have an excuse. Maybe now is the time to reach inside yourself and do it for your loved ones. That way, no one has to live with the regrets of "if only..."
As many of you know, I always wrote a Valentine's column to my husband, Roy, who died last year.
Roy was also a person of valor. He challenged injustice, defended those who couldn't defend themselves and always tried to do the right thing, not the easy thing. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, he was with me the whole time, through all the complications and life-threatening emergencies. He never complained, not once.
When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, he tackled his problems with courage and strength. He was an inspiration. When things started to get bad, people said I should put him in a nursing home. I couldn't as long as he was safe at home. I will never regret keeping him with me.
Everyone has to make decisions that are best for them and for their families. Perhaps you are not faced with life crises. How about a simple one?
If you spend time with your children, but you're always on the cell phone, is that really quality time? How about a moratorium on calls while you're eating or shopping together?
In the long run, you won't regret the missed call, but you may well regret the missed opportunity to talk to your child.
Roy loved Edith Piaf, the wonderful French singer. She had a song that translated "I Regret Nothing." Few of us can say that; we all do things we wish we'd done differently or not done at all. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't give some thought to choosing a course that may be a little harder, but more rewarding in the end.
Shelley Koppel is unable to endorse specific treatments for disease. Any protocols for treatment or testing she discusses are accepted standards of medical practice as recommended by agencies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Cancer Society. When she draws from personal experience, those are her experiences and are not medical recommendations. She is the former editor of "Today's HealthCare" magazine and a member of the National Association of Science Writers. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.