Tag Archives: dying

No Regrets!

20 Mar

Recently I was made aware of a wonderful book written by an Australian palliative care nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware, entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Each of the five regrets is monumental, but I would like to talk about regret number one which seems to be the most common; I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I have written about this very subject many times before and had discussed my father as an example in my book Overpowering Fear. My dad was a complicated and frustrated man. He loved his father dearly (and so did I), but his mother was a totally different story. She was without a doubt a dark and angry woman, dissatisfied with life she made the lives of others around her barely tolerable.

My dad grew up to be a very demonstrative and loving man. Easily manipulated by the women in his life to be the perfect son, the perfect husband. Not necessarily because he wanted to be but because it was demanded of him as he grew up. But underneath all this was a frustrated man with a simmering rage buried just below the surface. A rage that could turn him in an instant from a Dr. Jekyll into a Mr. Hyde. Living with my dad was like constantly walking on eggshells. You never knew when one would break and he’d fly into a rage. And then watch out.

As my father got older he seemed to mellow. He realized his rage and apologized many times for the father he was. I accepted his apologies and sort of minimized all the pain he caused me by telling him, I knew his mother. You see, both my two brothers and I became rage-a-holics too. You might say it was in the genes, but I believe it was learned behavior.

I wished my dad and I talked more. I was so afraid of him that our conversations never really scratched the surface. I never really got to understand him, but like I said, I knew my grandmother into my twenties, so I can easily imagine where his anger and frustration came from.

My dad would often preface his desires by saying, “Someday, I’m going to have this.” Or “Someday, I’d like to do that.” But the somedays came and went and none was ever accomplished. In looking back I think he was afraid to tell my mother and us kids what he would really like in his life. In fact, I don’t think he even knew what he wanted in his life, because his dreams and his goals were never part of the equation. He was raised to be the obedient son and husband, and the demanding but uninvolved father.

My dad has been gone for nineteen years now and I miss him every day. I wish I’d gotten to know him better. If I could offer one piece of advice to my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, it is this: You have but one life to live. It is yours to do with as you please. Let the lies others have told you about yourself dissolve into nothingness, and leave your mind forever. They were never true to begin with. Overpower your fears and recognize that you are perfect as you are. In fact, you are God’s greatest miracle. You were created to follow your own heart and to live your own dreams, never another’s. May you never have to die with a single regret.

With Love,

Michael