A father-son regret

I lost my dad in 2010, after a long battle with prostate cancer.  More correctly, he succumbed to health complications as a result of a prolonged prostate cancer treatment.  He went through intense radiation treatment, and I’m convinced that it severely impacted his natural immune system.

His body was literally beaten to a pulp and could not properly fight off a simple cold.  As a result, his body slowly gave up and in the end, he passed away in the hospital after some challenges with a virus, and it created a build-up of fluids around his heart.  Very similar to my heart failure experience, except my body was able to fight and he was unfortunately not.

I miss him dearly, especially around holidays and birthdays.  I try not to show my sadness too much, but not a moment goes by with me not thinking about my dad.  I want him to share and experience my life, while also participating in our family’s events.  The grief is bigger around Christmas; a holiday that we always celebrated as a family.

While my dad was actively involved in my life,  we missed out on father-son bonding opportunities.

He was a driving force in my badminton career as a kid and teenager.  He was attending every tournament and actively participated in my training.  Without his encouragement, I would not have reached the levels I did in badminton. It was our sport. He was a passionate badminton player and loved watching me playing and winning.

For the past decade, since losing him in 2010, I have grown to realize that we both missed out on spending more time together.  We never spent real father-son quality time together such as going camping, fishing, or hunting.  Granted, we visited a few museums together, but we did not spend a number of days in the wilderness, cooking and chatting about life.  That is my biggest regret.

I wish I had taken a more active role in our father-son relationship, instead of focusing on my friends and various superficial relationships during my youth.  I should’ve spent more time getting to know my own dad.  Learning from his past.  Listening to his stories, and appreciating his company.

I miss my dad and cannot do anything to change the fact that we never had father-son binding sessions.  Sure, we laughed together, watched movies together, and even shared a few beers together.  It was only when he got sick that I had the opportunity to spend some time with him when visiting from Ireland.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk much about what mattered to us both and our conversations were mainly around how this bloody cancer changed his life.

I know he fully supported everything I did while he was alive.  Yes, there were several moments where he provided parental guidance which included discipline.

Indeed, my dad smacked me at times, but it was fully deserved and not in a violent rage.  I was out of line, disrespectful, and deserved it – no doubt.  That does not mean that I condone hitting children, but it is very obvious that kids nowadays need much better discipline and parents are responsible for that.

Why is it that we only realize what we’ve lost when it is too late?

I need and want to change this with my own kids.  I need to spend quality time with my kids going fishing, hunting, or just on a long car ride, talking to each other.  Heck, just a fun camping trip in our back garden.

I would hate arriving at my final days on earth, before the Lord takes me home, only to realize that I’ve missed out on my kids’ life. Even if I have attended all the school concerts, hugged them when crying, celebrated birthdays, watched them horseback ride, travel the world, etc. I want them to be proud of calling me dad and create long-lasting memories.

Equally, I sincerely hope that my kids will take more initiatives to push these father-kid opportunities, and willingly help me in the kitchen, ask to go hunting, or just ask to hang out outside around the fire pit. 

We have to push and encourage our kids to engage us parents to spend time together.

Our lives are too controlled and influenced by mobile phones, social media, and what classmates do.  If these sources attempt to influence your kids in a negative direction, then it is our responsibility to change that course.

As a parent for 17 years now, I must make a better effort to fully connect with my kids, before it is too late.  I do not want them to think back at our relationships and regret not having spent more time with their father.  Imagine sitting by my bedside when I’m too old and sharing their regrets.

For full transparency, I do believe I’m a very good father, and I’m confident my kids love me. But, I can be better, and we can strengthen our relationships further.

I also strongly believe that being more involved with your kids will prevent all this unnecessary social media attention.  Kids are easily coerced by influencers and peer pressure, and end up running around aimlessly looking for social media fame.  Even worse, kids are robbing and stealing to get attention, adoration from friends; simply because they are misguided and not given any support or discipline from home.

We can and must step up as parents, and it starts now!

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau

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