The Day I Found My Dad

I have two memories of my biological father. I remember him beating me with a belt as a young child for not drinking my milk and I remember my mother sobbing after his abuse. He left when I was seven. I never knew why. I didn’t care.

The man I refer to as dad is my stepfather. He was caring, kind and supportive. He was also an alcoholic, which caused some chaos and problems in my life. But, on balance, I was so fortunate to have him as my dad.

My fondest memory is the day my mother, who managed the money and was very frugal, gave dad the money to go buy a new pair of shoes. He desperately needed them because there were holes the size of quarters in the soles and he used cardboard inserts to prevent walking on his socks.

Later that day he returned by bus, since we had no car. I saw them coming down the street my brother Randy riding a tricycle and my dad pushing a used two wheel bike for me. No gears. No fancy brakes. But to me it was beautiful. It is also the best gift I have ever received.

My mother was furious. And my mother knew how to do furious. She loved my dad and felt he needed new shoes way more than Randy and I needed bikes. Of course she was correct, but this was about more than a bike, or shoes.

Until that day I had wondered if I was just part of the package when my dad asked my mother to marry him. I felt like I had never had a dad. Not really. That day I knew my step-father loved me. If he was willing to make the sacrifice of the shoes and the wrath of my mother, he had to care. I was twelve, and finally, I had a dad.

A short time later, in 1959, my dad asked to adopt me. I said yes in a heartbeat. Melvin Wesley Anderson officially became my father and dad.  My dad wasn’t perfect, who among us is? But he loved me and always had my best interests at heart.

He died in 1974, at 61, from cancer but he lives on in my heart.

Five Regrets of Dying People


Wiki Image

By Bonnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Bonnie Ware is the author of the new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.  Visit her official website Inspiration and Chai.

Source:  http://www.activistpost.com/2011/11/top-5-regrets-of-dying.html

ebooks, video episodes and workbooks are available FREE - All Digital Media is FREE on this site