No Regrets


My father died four years ago after a tough fight with leukemia. I had the privilege of caring for him during the last two weeks of his life when he was too weak to even climb a flight of stairs. In the years prior to his death, I’d taken many opportunities to honor and thank him for being my dad. And yet I have one regret.

In 1980, during my last year of high school, I told my dad I wanted to go to Cornell University to study hotel and restaurant administration. It was a good school and very expensive. My dad told me if I got in, he’d pay for it.

I got in and he paid for it. He never said a word about it either. He never complained. He never reminded me what it was costing him. He just did what he said he’d do. Having now paid college expenses for two of my daughters, I understand the sacrifices my dad made for me.

I wish I could tell him how truly grateful I am.

My mom died in 1996. She was only 59. After she passed away, my dad shared with me some things I never knew about my mom. She’d once been in love while in college. My grandmother didn’t approve of the relationship and ended it. My dad felt that maybe my mom never got over him.

I was born in 1962. At some point after I was born, my mother got pregnant again…and had an abortion. I don’t know how or why. She just did.

My brother was born in 1963. He was several months premature and died soon after birth. Maybe it was because my mother smoked. I guess it was only years later that the research showed a connection between smoking and premature birth.

My dad also told me that he almost got my mom to open up one night and tell him what happened to her when she was a little girl. She got close, but then shut down. He thinks she was either raped by a close family member or saw her mother raped.

I can only imagine the shame and guilt my mom carried. I never got the sense that she was living free and forgiven. She was in a lot of pain and seemed content with an early death that would end it.

I’d written a tribute many years earlier, but I regret not being more understanding with my mom. I wish I’d expressed how much I appreciated her love and care for me when I was younger. Knowing what I know now, I think she must have been doing everything she could to hold it together for the sake of her children. I’d tell her how grateful I am. And I’d want her to understand how deeply she was loved by God.

Mother’s Day is less than two weeks away. Father’s Day isn’t far behind.

Have you left anything unsaid?

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5 Responses to “No Regrets”

  1. antje wilsch Says:

    This is lovely, Gregg…. you should post a story to the SOML site where I do, about your mother and father and then your children will know them too. I think this is very important. When I do my family genealogy, my hobby, I love finding stuff from my ancestors, but get really frustrated that there was nothing else, no story behind the marriage license or will or house deed etc.

    My father died a little over a year ago. I miss him fiercely. I didn’t say enough to him about what he meant to me. I like to think he knew, but who am I to say. I should have said it when I still had the chance.

  2. netta Says:

    I lost my mother last August. I can honestly say I have no regrets; we went through some very tough times, but in the end we were able to resolve them. That’s not to say there’s things I wished I had said or done, but she knew, when she passed, how much I love her and I knew how much she loves me.

    I miss her with every breath.

    They know. Believe it.

  3. Gregg Stutts Says:

    Thank you for your kind words. I still miss my dad, too.

  4. Gregg Stutts Says:

    I’m glad you resolved things before she died…and that she knew how much you loved her. What a way to honor your mom!

  5. Terri Says:

    I am the other surviving child…Gregg’s sister. My brother has done a wonderful job putting into perspective the life of pain that our mother clearly lived. She kept most things secret, private, unknown to even her family and closest friends. But knowing her was a blessing…she had a kind heart and timid soul and i think she did do the best she could. I am only sorry that she did not have the strength to trust those who loved her so much, right to the end, and allow us to be there to support her when she felt she could not support herself any longer. Her death was very sad, but i think it probably was a true relief to her – to finally be able to let go. i hope she has found the love and light of God to keep her safe and to know the unconditional love and grace she did not find here on earth.

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