COMMENTARY 764.4: Don’t Miss the Chance

A listener got me thinking about the challenge of dealing with aging parents who become more and more needy and the conflicts one is bound to feel. It motivated me to write this poem:

Don’t Miss the Chance

They said I was lucky my mom lived near,
But she was pretty old and it wasn’t so clear.
Sure, I was grateful for all she did for me,
But I was so very busy. I had no time free.

I had my job, my kids, my own life to live.
There really was nothing left for me to give.
I couldn’t visit often, but I did help out.
I gave money, did chores, and ran her about.

But truth be told, I didn’t like it that much.
The conversation was dull, and she was frail to touch.
She complained a lot and I just felt worse.
I didn’t have time to be handyman or nurse.

I could have done more – of course I could –
But she loved me and she understood.
I know she did because she told me so.
She wanted me to be happy – and I pretended not to know

That she was lonely, uncomfortable, and scared of dying.
I closed my eyes to how hard she was trying
To be brave, independent, and not needy at all.
She assured me she’d be fine even after her fall.

But now she’s gone and I miss her so,
And I’m so sorry I pretended not to know
How much a call, a card, or a hug brightened her day
Or how easy it was to chase her blues away.

I’m ashamed I felt burdened, pressured, and put out.
She deserved more than I gave her, without a doubt.
So if your mom or dad is still with you,
Don’t lose the chance – do all you can do.

Make time, not excuses. Go the extra mile.
Because your chance to do so lasts only a while.

This is Michael Josephson, reminding you that character counts.

* After writing this poem, I realized many would think the poem reflected my personal experience. It’s not autobiographical. Actually, my mother died in her early 40s (I’ve talked about her cheerfulness and courage many times before). As I remind my listeners and readers from time to time, I see myself not as a journalist but as a teacher. I often use poems and parables to convey an insight or feeling that I think will inform, enlighten or uplift others. We received quite a few requests for this commentary. I hope I captured the emotions of people who have been in this situation.

Enjoyed this poem by Michael Josephson? Reach another one of his heartfelt poems, What Will Matter.

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Comments 6

  1. I love this… I have 4 wonderful sons. They help as much as possible, but with one in TX, one in San Diago and one in Chino, each with their own agenda’s, I tend to feel guilty when I ask for their help. Their dad is disabled, so it is really needed. I would love to send this poem, but don’t want them to assist out of guilt. Any suggestions?

  2. This one really hits home and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to write it so others can take heed to it.

  3. This poem hit me to the core…like I wrote it…but, I still have a chance…my mom is still with me!
    She is a wonderful person! Love you mom!

  4. Please take this poem to heart. My Mom lived 4 1/2 hours (by car) from me. I have my own family, a full time job, etc. and did not see her as often as I should have. My last scheduled trip to see my Mom was in April 2011 while my Son was on Spring Break from school. She died in her sleep 2 weeks before I made that trip. We were very close, even though we lived far apart and her passing has left a vacant spot in my life. I have huge regrets for not spending more time with her. Now I know there really was no excuse good enough for not visiting her more often, and now it is too late.

  5. My Dad is 84yo, after his wife passed away last year my brother and I decide that Dad would live with him. After 6 months it was apparent that Dad didn’t “fit into their lifestyle” and he came to live with me..shock because my brother was “The Golden Child.” To make a long story short I am grateful to have this time to share with Dad, though @ times when he sleeps in I think he is at peace at last..BUT, I feel honored and blessed to care for my dad as he cared for me…yes, there are bad times with attitudes, he is retired military, Airborn Ranfer and Green Beret, boxed in army and at times alot of tension in our household, but God Bless my wife for uncondtionally accepting him into our home! I feel my brother really missed out on a great opportunity to give back.

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