By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
A very interesting and riveting story which I thought I should share with SOM readers: It took my dad, the whole of his life to learn one valuable lesson. He passed it on to me and future generations to come.
It was 12.10 pm and my husband was 10 minutes late for our luncheon meet. Feeling impatient I texted him, “Where are you? It’s late already.”
“I am sorry. But there is someone else who wants to be with you,” my husband texted back.
Confused and a little annoyed, I was thinking that I still had so much work after lunch. Suddenly I noticed a man parking his car and walking into the restaurant who looked just like my dad.
Yes, it was my dad. He must have driven non-stop from his house 5 hours away. Dad, what are you doing here? I asked with a stunned expression.
It had been more than a year from the last time I paid him a visit. “I just wanted to have lunch with you,” said my dad.
Fearing the worst that something bad had happened to daddy, I asked him, scared to hear the answer.
“Are you unwell?”
“I am fine, sweetheart.”
Next week there is a screening of a movie we missed watching together, the one … do you remember? I would like to watch it with you, my dad asked sincerely.
I remember, dad, but I can’t make it. I am very busy at work this month. Feeling guilty, I suggested we can see the movie the following month.
Next month, ok, he said. Next month I did meet him, not for the movie date but in a hospital. Unable to speak, gasping, he handed over his diary to me and closed his eyes for ever.
Later that night I nervously opened his diary:
July 8, 1981, 9 pm, I did not make it on time to be with you when you were born.
March 9, 1982, I missed your first baby steps.
September 9, 1984, 7.30 am, your first day at the kindergarten and I could not make it to send you off.
Tears started to roll down my cheeks and my heart felt hurt.
May 5, 1988, 12 pm, I let you wait for a long time and still missed our first movie show.
April 23, 2018, 10 pm I feel I may fail to keep my promise with you one more time.
Daughter, that day, I just wanted to spend the last moments of my life with you. To tell you how precious family time is. I have missed many moments over the years, spending all my time working, thinking that it would make our lives better. I was wrong. We should spend as much time as we can with the ones we love, that is how we make our lives better; because money cannot buy real happiness.
I am sorry, my dear. Please do not make the same mistakes I did in the end; kids won’t remember the fancy toy you bought for them but remember the “time” you spent with them. Time for family is sacred time and should be protected and respected.
One day, you should say, “I am glad I did” rather than “I wish I had.”
When I look back all of my 66 years, my story is also not different from the above. So many important moments of my children’s life I have missed because of so-called commitments to my job. I still remember to my regret, the fact that I was not present at my second child’s birth due to some emergency work. Working for twelve hours became a habit, sometimes I used to stay on at work, even when it was not necessary. Now I wish I had spent that extra time with my family. Is it possible to get those magical moments back. “No.”
This is the story of thousands of working men and women, who do not strike a balance between their work and family. But the time has now come to “change.” Spend as much as time with your family. The bonding becomes so strong with your children that they will spend more time with you when you are old. You should be able to say “I am glad I did” rather than “I wish I had.”