This month, my mother is celebrating her 80th birthday. What a mile stone. She has all her teeth, her black hair is only dotted with small specks of grey, she does not take any prescription medicine, walks well on her own, drives herself, lives on her own and does everything for herself.
She divorced my father when I was at toddler and remarried a year or two later. For some reason my two elder brothers never really got along with him, but I always found my step father was a great guy and the funniest man I ever knew and he was my dad. He was a WWII vet and had some issues and only worked part time so I always considered my mother a single mother as she really brought the three of us up on her own, and she was the bread winner.
When I was 13, my step father died of a massive heart attack at home while we were watching TV and my mother, at the age of 44 was a widow and never remarried. She did have one love interest after my step-father died, but it never developed into anything and she has remained single.
I have two elder brothers, and of the three of us, my relationship with my mother is unique among us. We talk about anything. She confides in me and tells me things that she would never tell my brothers. Recently she told me she got a call from my cousin that a certain Mr. X was trying to get in touch with her. It turns out that Mr. X was an old boyfriend, a Navy man, that she knew a few years before she met my father. Mr. X was deployed overseas and their relationship ended.
She never told me about Mr. X, until he tried to get in touch with her. She called me one night and wanted to know if she should call him back or not. It was funny talking to my mum over the phone about Mr. X. Her voice was like I had never heard before. It was like I was speaking to a 79 year old teenager. She was bubbling, laughing loudly, and speaking quickly. She was happy.
I told her go for it. I joked that he was probably having a lucid moment and he remembered her. My mother says she did not remember what he looked like (sure!), but did remember him. She did eventually call, and it turns out that Mr. X had been always thinking about her over the past 60 years and he regretted that they ended their relationship.
That’s when I started to think about regret. So many people are going through their life regretting a decision of letting the true love of their life go. I am so blessed that the only woman I have ever loved is the woman I wake up next to every morning, that I have had her in my life every day since the day I met her 30 years ago. And I think of my mother with her failed marriage, a dead husband and a man who all that time had pined away for her.
I saw my mother last week, and she and Mr. X have spoken a few times on the phone, and when she takes about him, there is something different in her eyes and voice that I had never seen before. Was he her real true love? Was she secretly regretting him leaving? They don’t have plans to meet as he now lives on the other side of the country, and he is married to his third wife, but I wonder about what if they do. Would that make her happy or miserable? Has she lived so long in good health because she has not had a man in her life? Are some people better off alone? Ultimately, no matter what we wish for others, they alone know what really and truly makes them happy, and maybe being alone these past 36 years is what makes my mother happy. And happiness ultimately brings good health.
No matter whether she and Mr. X eventually meet and rekindle their love in the waning years of their life is up to them. Either way, so long as my mum is happy, that is all that really matters.
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