My mother was an absolute pain to me. She constantly asked me to do things for her, simple tasks that she could do herself: get her a glass of water, fetch a pitcher for her bath or bring her the mail. I wanted her to get up off her lazy butt and do it herself. I regret that now.
It drove me crazy how she would stay in her bed day and night, the TV on, but her attention elsewhere. I hated how she chose to waste her life away, more bitter because she chose to spend her time with the TV and not with her own daughter. I used to love her more then anything in the world, but as her depression settled in, my love for her faded.
I was hard on her. I screamed at her, woke her up in the middle of the day, said angry, hurtful things. Maybe if she realized how I felt, she would be there for me. There was always an excuse though, my favorite, “I don’t feel well.” It was her favorite too.
I got angry when she had the audacity to discipline me. I saw it as a poor effort to parent me. How dare she try to be my have a say after skipping out on most of my life. She would parent me after her television program. It was then that she would deal with my problems. But the “program” never ended.
While I was wrapped up thinking about the characteristics that made me hate her, I forgot the memories that made me love her at one time. Times’ weren’t always bad. She comforted me whenever she saw me cry inviting me to her bedside where she would envelope me in her arms..
She stuck up for me when my dad and I were at odds and would team up with me when I wanted to convince him to spend money we didn’t have. It was a long shot, but she was always on my side. These are the memories I miss most about her- that’s what gets me choked up when I’m at the cemetery or I pass her empty room.
Looking back, I regret the way I treated her. I cringe every time I recall a petty fight and how my pride constantly got between us. I let our love wither away into something bitter and cold. As I stood by her bed at the hospital trying to say my final goodbye my mind screamed, “I’m sorry.” But only one phrase escaped my lips: “I love you.”
Since then, I’ve treated people differently. I try to accept them for who they are. It’s important — it took the death of my mother for me to understand why. I live my life differently because I believe in having no regrets. Deathbeds are no place for apologies.
Regret is a painful thing which has no place in our lives. We are better off without it. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.