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I deeply regret letting my spendthrift mother die alone

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 50s. I couldn’t get in touch with my mother, who lived alone, and visited her home only to find her dead. I learned she had died about 10 days before from heart failure. I deeply regret my attitude to her when she was alive.

My mother was a spendthrift, frequently pestering me for money, even though she received a sufficient pension. When I made her cancel her credit card, she snapped at me, “You did that because you want me to leave you my money.”

Whenever my mother talked to me, she just spoke ill of someone or pestered me for money. Her attitudes discouraged me from calling or seeing her so much that I had recently kept away from her.

However, now that my mother has passed away, I’m full of remorse for what I failed to do. I think I should have found her body much earlier and been kinder to her when she was alive. I also learned that she had a new credit card issued, which made me think I should have given her money.

To tell the truth, I received a letter from her on the day when she probably passed away. It reads, “Although I don’t know how much longer I’ll live, I’ll do my best to live on my own.”

She probably died alone because she didn’t want to trouble me. I can’t stop crying when I think about it.

U, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

We all have regrets about our attitude toward our parents after they pass away. I too can’t help but hang my head when looking back on my actions. A parent and child usually rely on each other, often say too much, get angry at each other easily and take their frustrations out on one another.

Your regret probably knows no bounds right now, but this very feeling helps you better understand your mother. Each time you think back about why your mother behaved in a certain way at a certain time and how she felt about it, you’ll come to see additional elements of her. You’ll also embrace new feelings toward her as you get older.

Your relationship with your mother didn’t end when she passed away, but entered a new stage. I now realize this is what our parents mean to us.

We have to learn from our parents’ good and bad points, and this is how our relationships with our parents are destined to be. So I hope you think this way: Your mother was trying to live on her own. Although she made some mistakes, she managed to keep going until her last day.

If you feel this way, you can most empathize with her, I believe.

Megumi Hisada, writer

(from Aug. 22, 2017, issue)Speech

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