The greatest regret of my life is always that I let my mothers death affect my perspective for my life. She died weeks before her fortieth birthday. A short life needed to be lived well and so it was an exciting and fast lived romp through the teenage years and into early adulthood. It was a wobbly balancing act on the edge moving from one risky adventurous endeavour to the next only allowing time between to mend the pieces and gather myself from the consequences of impulsive decisions and mad schemes.
Work was a means to an hedonistic end. Spells of work interrupted the agenda my spirit had set, there was much to do by the time I died at forty. I had no imagination past forty and no expectation to be alive after that number. For all the wrong reasons it was a number of significance. My childhood had been spent accompanying my mother on numerous ambulance trips to hospital, then caring for her at home on her return. The angst of watching a parent withdraw from life coloured my decisions to get through as much living as I could whatever the cost, or in my case the fallout. It was a life chronologically constrained and shackled to 40.
Relationships were tenuous because the thought of settling down with someone didn’t seem fair in light of the fact of my early death. Why bear children and have to leave them, why get married, go to university, save, buy a house, settle down or cow-tow to social norms of the 1970s. It all seemed pointless until the body clock kicked in during my late 20s.
Standing on the dining room chair trying to hang curtains days before our son was born and I’m thinking: frigging hell, no one has their first child at this age, what was I thinking of. I can’t do this!
But I did and our daughter followed nineteen months later. I may have regretted the late start but I never regretted their company along the journey.
Here’s the thing. I’ve outlived my mother by two decades, having done everything late in life, some might say a late bloomer. Late to a university qualification, late starting what should have been my first job, late to enjoy the time of my life in which I am present and also late to realise all those years I was anticipating a terminal illness that never came were wasted years waiting for my mothers destiny to overtake my own.
The rude health I enjoy or the life worthy of comment are destiny’s gift to me; alas one to which I awoke late, but I did wake. How dreadful to have lived so shallow a life unwittingly depriving myself the depth and joy of well considered plans. I may share some of her DNA but destiny chose a different path for me. I’ve enjoyed excellent health, a firm hand to hold for close to 34 years, children and now a grandson. Blessing beyond measure, overflowing and pressed down firmly.
However, greater than the regret is the knowledge that the blessings now overshadow any tardiness to engage in a worthy life.