I have many regrets in my life.
But perhaps the biggest regret is around my father.
He and I never had much of a relationship, but towards the end of his life, after locating him and getting him off the streets, I simply didn’t want much to do with him.
After all, why should I? Where was he when I was young? Or when I needed him?
Now, looking back, that decision pains me. After all, we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance to spend time or see someone.
My father loved only two things in life: music and baseball.
Near the end of his life, when I took him off the streets, I thought about taking him to a Dodgers game, But, at the time, I was just too selfish, embarrassed, or maybe vindicative to take him to a game before he died.
Why else did we never take in nine innings on a sunny afternoon at Chavez Ravine?
Because he was formerly homeless, with Schizophrenia. He had rotten teeth and heard voices. He smelled and talked to himself. I did not want other people to see that around me. After all, what would that say about me? Maybe something was wrong with me, too, they may think, or I may become like that?
So, he never saw one final baseball game.
My sister handled everything related to his care. She really did everything. Me, I just helped around the edges when and where it was convenient for me.
So, he lived out his few remaining days in some sort of limbo, much better off than when he was alone on the streets, but absent the time and affection of his son. I can’t help but think that his last days could have been much more.
I could have been more.
According to Jung, we are the totality of our experiences. They make us who we are, especially the traumas and damage of our past.
But they don’t have to outright eliminate our ability to be compassionate, understanding, and helpful when someone else needs us. Even when someone – no, especially when someone has caused us pain, or we have a contentious relationship.
However, we become very adept at making excuses and covering our true motivations and emotions with circumstances. We bargain for our own soul and justify why we’re not repeating the mistakes of our fathers.
The thing is, there simply is no right way to do the wrong thing. Sometimes, just showing up and being a good human being when we have all the reasons in the world not too is the hardest thing to do, but a decision that will also unburden us.
I’ve learned that…albeit a few months and a Dodgers game too late.
You only get one chance at this thing called life, my friends, so always try to do what’s best for those who you care about – not what’s convenient for you, or else you may end up regretting it.