Sin of Omission

Skipping three consecutive issues was a total breach of a pledge I had made this 2014. Having promised myself to consistently write articles for my column, I couldn’t help feeling guilty and disappointed at myself for failing to keep my word. That and the fact that I know that the more I skip writing the easier it would be to keep missing more issues.
I must admit that lately, I have been feeling the residuals of the “wear and tear” of my body, mind and spirit. Let’s not even count forgetfulness as I was already forgetful even in my early 30s. The late evening and early morning cramps, arthritis pains, very low tolerance for Chicago’s freezing cold weather, loss of vocabulary (words I have always used but all of a sudden just forget), lack of drive, motivation or excitement for things I used to like and enjoy doing… The list just keeps getting longer.
Thank God, there’s Quincy, whose every new word, trick or move learned always makes my day! Despite the physical demands of an eight hour full time babysitting commitment, I have no regrets and will do it all over again. No kidding.
If you have noticed too, I have not written about politics in my column for quite some time now. I just noticed that politics was making me too angry (and my Republican nemesis angrier)and too involved for my own good. I still follow the issues but love that we now have a columnist who delves on these current and often volatile issues from a broader and independent rather than a one party’s perspective.
This is not to say I won’t write anything politically related ever again. When I feel the need or even just the urge to do it, I will not hold back. I’ll be back, and probably be back with vengeance. But for now, and for as long as it takes, it will be the woman, mother or grandmother in me sharing experience, thoughts and feedbacks from the point of view of any one of these women.
The Sin of Omission, a poem by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
For someone with very short memory, I’m surprised myself how a poem I learned in high school got stuck in my small memory bank. I guess it had a deeper impact in me than I actually knew. It must have been the message and truths the poem conveys that did the trick because every now and then, I allude to this literary piece as a fact of life. The poem goes,
It isn’t the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender work forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

Whether it’s a simple errand or homework you didn’t do or failed to do but know it must be done sometime, somehow, doesn’t the thought keep nagging you until it gets done? Something feels incomplete because the element to complete it was left out, whether by choice, by accident, by necessity or something else. Sometimes, too, this kind of thought deprives you of or haunts you in your sleep.
The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother’s way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.
Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find~
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.

Did you ever have an opportunity to do something good to someone or some people and know that you had the time and means to do it but missed it for one reason or another? Doesn’t your guilty conscience make you go back again and again to that situation, wishing you could get the chance just one more time to respond in a positive way?
Sometimes we get so consumed by our own circumstances that we become deaf and blind to the rest of our environment. We feel nothing but pain and sorrow and think we got the worst deck of cards in this life so what time would you have to console or ease the pain of others?
For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late:
And it isn’t the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

You’ll never know when putting off a plan to visit a sick friend or relative or waiting to find time to write a note of thanks for kindness or gifts received or simply taking the time to call someone needing to hear a friendly voice can make you sorry for a long, long time.
About ten years ago, a very dear friend from way back in the Philippines immigrated to Canada with his wife and family. He had been inviting us to visit them in Ontario and then, in Edmonton because he missed us and we did miss him too. Convinced that we could take off a couple of days, Bart and I told them we were coming but never got to do it. Though he stopped asking, I had been quietly looking for that chance to go and would just tell him when everything was all set and sure. That chance never came and it never will come as he died of cancer last September. We didn’t even find out till after a couple of months, when his oldest son emailed us about his papa’s passing. I felt so bad and regretted not having gone through with our plan to see him and his wife when we could.
Making Up for Lost Opportunities
Making up for something we missed doing or saying is hard when the person you want to make up to is gone. But all isn’t lost as long as there’s a genuine desire to make up for a sin or wrong whether by commission or omission as my son, Paul proved in an email he sent me last week. With his permission, I’m sharing a very personal letter as I believe it can be a teaching moment for those who find themselves in similar situations.

Subject: Perspective
Date: 3/3/2014 5:18:13 P.M.
Central Standard Time

Hi Mom,
I’ve been giving a lot of thought about Inang in recent weeks. After your article about Lynn’s grandmother, it occurred to me I was never able to fully display the gratitude I know now that I should have had for her.  In the years after she passed, I’ve come to realize some of the remarkable sacrifices she made for our family.  I told myself that as a young, immature kid, perhaps my cavalier attitude towards such an amazing woman could be understood, if not excused. After seeing the outpouring of appreciation Lynn’s family has always had for their “mama” I feel ashamed that I was never able to honor her in the way she really deserved to be in life.
I didn’t want another day to go by that I didn’t let you know the lesson’s I’ve learned. I hope to instill a better sense of appreciation and respect in my own child when it comes to you, mom. I’ll never be able to change not being able thank Inang in her own life, but I’m going to do everything I can to have my kids honor that tradition, for your sake.

Sent from my iPad
I thought it would be nice to share this to my nieces and nephews so I encouraged Paul to send this email to his cousins.

Dear Cousins,
I wanted to write all of you at my mom’s encouragement. I recently shared with her the gratitude and full appreciation I now have for our grandmother Inang. As you may have seen from Facebook posts, my wife Lynn, lost her Grandmother yesterday. She was affectionately called by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as Mama.  My mom wrote a wonderful tribute to her last month in my parent’s magazine as part of her 100th birthday celebration. In recent years, months, and especially the last few weeks I’ve looked back at the relationship I had with my grandmother and I can’t help but feel some regret that I was never able to express to her the level of gratitude I know I should have for a woman that took such great care of me and my siblings.
When Lynn and I met one of the very first people she told me about was Mama. She shared stories of how she was instrumental in raising her, and her two siblings. She told me how she learned to cook Filipino food from her, and how she was at times the only person she felt she could turn to.
What amazed me was the stories she shared with me reminded so much of my own memories of Inang. I do remember the times I would get home from school to find a home cooked meal prepared for me, or when I got sick and needed to be nursed back to health, Inang being there, and when I was new to a school the only friend I had besides Bart and Madelene was my grandmother.  The regret I feel comes from the difference in my relationship with Inang and Lynn’s relationship with Mama. Though it has been years since Inang passed away, I’ve known that I never did all I could to show her the type of love and appreciation she deserved. For years I wrote it off and thought my actions as a young and immature kid could be understood, if not accepted.  After meeting Lynn’s family though I know that isn’t true. When Lynn and I first started dating her younger cousins Katleya and Miguel were not much older than I was when Inang left to go back home to the Philippines.  Katleya and Miguel adored their grandmother. When I first saw the two interact with her that was clear. When she passed away so many family members were there by her side.
So you see I promised my mom that the lesson of appreciating my elders and being grateful for the sacrifices they’ve made would be something I would be sure to pass along to our baby on the way. It was too late for me to really get the opportunity to express this to Inang, but I hope Quincy and my baby will never forget it about their Lola.

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