This is my response to this week’s Flashback Track Friday prompt, where they asked us:
What is your biggest regret?
So, how does the song go? Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention… Well, let’s try mentioning a few.
I think in my early life, I regret not staying on in education. I earned a Bachelor’s degree, was one of the top people in the class, was offered a PhD place, but, quite simply, I wanted to get into work because I was fed up earning a pittance.
In fact, none of the top people stayed. Whatever field of industry we went into, we all chose to get out of academia. It was the middle tier of people, those who could not get good jobs, who opted to stay and complete PhDs.
It’s kinda interesting, because it made me realise about abundantly-qualified people. They’re not there through any greater grasp of knowledge, but because they stayed the course.
But it’s only really later in life that I’ve come to realise that… those three little letters, PhD, once you have them, they are something that nobody can take away. They are one of the few things in life which are “forever”.
Another regret – I worked in Manhattan in my mid-twenties. Financial district, right by Wall Street, the works. And how many people, especially people from another continent, can say that? I miss not spending longer there.
But I can’t really complain. Within 18 months of returning, I met my wife. Within three years I was a father. And frankly, when I look at the US now… I’m happy where I am.
Michele mentioned her mum. But which of us does not think we could have been a better child? I’d go so far as to say that it’s pretty universal. I wasn’t overly close to my mum – she was quite a domineering character, we didn’t get on and I don’t regret one bit that we were distant. And, I’m not going to eulogise her, and pretend anything other now that she’s gone.
But, I regret when she died.
Because she was close to my daughter. Grandparents and grandkids have a special bond, and my daughter was just twelve when she died. After that she went into this seemingly unstoppable downward spiral. Petty crime, finally accusing me of abuse and going into care. And, ultimately, I think my daughter piled it on so much – we’d have the police coming to the house every month or so – she helped cause my stroke. So I am stuck living the rest of my life disabled as a result. Regrets? You might say… And I think they stem from when my mother died.
But my biggest regret? Well, I left home aged eighteen, and never really went back. And as you just heard, I was go-getting in my twenties, changing jobs about every eighteen months, climbing the ladder and including working in New York City.
In the meantime, at home, my dad had developed dementia. Back then, they labelled it pre-senile, but now it is far more common and labelled early onset (far more politically correct). The upshot is that just as I was flying home from the USA, my dad was moving into a nursing home. There he lived for the next fifteen years, gradually becoming more incapacitated and withdrawn. I’ve no idea if it even registered, when he met his granddaughter. At the end, it certainly didn’t register when he met me. I think my biggest regret is just not being able to shoot the breeze with him, man-to-man.
He had the last laugh, by the way. He died on a Christmas Day, so it’s a kind-of in-your-face reminder every year.