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I spent a lot of my formative years in Louisiana, where I developed great friendships that have lasted decades.
I grew very close with one particular friend who happened to live across the street and a few houses down.
His family, particularly his mother, welcomed me with open arms and treated me as a second son.
She was an incredibly kind person as well as an amazing cook (she was Cuban).
I often would find myself at her dining table devouring anything and everything she would place in front of me.
Their home became the central meeting place for all the neighborhood kids who were also welcomed with open arms.
She always requested me to play the piano whenever I came into the home and I happily obliged.
As the years passed she kept tabs on myself and my family through Facebook, always commenting on how beautiful my daughter is and how proud she was about how I turned out.
She especially loved it when I happened to post videos of me playing the piano on my Facebook page as it allowed her to reminisce on the old days.
With college, medical school, and residency keeping me busy, I seemingly always came up with an excuse not to go back and see my old stomping grounds, returning just twice as an adult when her son got married and finally when my now ex-wife had a presentation at a conference (which was prior to the birth of our daughter).
My friend’s mother would repeatedly ask me when I was coming back and said she would love to meet my daughter in person.
Going back to Louisiana definitely was on my mind and I was actually planning to do so in 2020, telling my daughter she would love the food and people there.
Unfortunately plans got placed on hold because of COVID.
Unfortunately when travel restrictions started getting lifted my work started getting busier and busier.
There was always some excuse that pushed the Louisiana visit further and further down the “things to do” list.
But in my mind I always planned on introducing my daughter to my friend’s mother someday in the near future.
Unfortunately that someday will never come.
Exactly 1 year ago from the date this post goes live, my friend called me and told me his mother unexpectedly passed at the age of 74.
It truly was a gut punch and I was at a loss for words.
My heart sank and then began to fill with regret as I realized that my promise to her to come visit soon so she could see my daughter and myself would now go unfulfilled.
If only I had actually made the effort to visit in time, if I only placed a higher priority on it.
I robbed my daughter of the opportunity to meet a truly remarkable person who was instrumental in shaping her father’s life to become the man he now is.
We take a lot of things for granted, especially those close to us.
We expect these people to always be there and thus do not prioritize them as high as we should.
We do not have crystal balls to show us when a person is going to leave us forever.
If I had knowledge that this was the case for my friend’s mother, you can be damn sure a visit would have been at the top of my priorities.
We all want to live a life of happiness and part of that means minimizing your regrets.
On a personal finance website such as this one, it is easy to always focus on money.
But money is not the end all be all of life.
Early on in our careers we do not take as many vacations as we should, thinking about the financial repercussions of taking time off.
We try to justify this by thinking that we will take a more deserving vacation someday.
As I hope this post highlights, we are not guaranteed that that someday will come or who will be around to enjoy it with us if it does.
A life without regret is what we should truly strive for.
Unfortunately, in this case, I failed miserably.
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You are being way too hard on yourself. The fact is you brought her a lot of joy by becoming a good adult and raising a good kid. Sure, one last visit would have been nice, but she would still have died and you’d still feel grief over it. From what you say in the post you honored the relationship and her last thoughts of you were surely loving and kind.
Appreciate that steveark. It definitely was a shock to hear about it and then I felt a wave of regret flood over me about not visiting in time. But you are correct in your line of thinking. Thanks for the kind words