Saturday, January 6, 2018

What Is The Biggest Regret You Ever Had In Your Life?

Answering the questions people have
asked (or I have asked myself) about
my past, present, or future.
I consider myself blessed not to have made one gigantic awful, life-shattering bad decision leading to regret. I've made lots of smaller bad decision. However, I think about one decision I made when I was working in Texas that has forever altered the way I talk to my parents. And it did not involve my parents.

Back in October 1995, I was producing weekends at KRGV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas when one of the reporters I worked with, Roy Pena, died on the job. A train smashed into the station car he and photographer Joe Davila were riding in. They had gone through a nearly-blind crossing in Brownsville and didn't even see it until it was too late to get out of the way. Roy died after a few hours in the hospital. Joe survived with injuries and survivors' guilt.

Just about an hour or so before that, I remember Roy calling the station because he was having problems with the computer system in the bureau. I didn't answer the phone directly, but I gave advice to the person who answered the phone to pass on to Roy. I could've talked to him myself, and I probably should have. But at that moment, I was frustrated with the continuing computer problems we seemed to be having with that bureau, and I didn't want him to hear my frustration. I thought I was doing him a favor by getting my emotion out of the equation. I never thought that would be the last time I would hear from him alive.

After Roy's death, I began making sure I told my parents I loved them each and every time I talked to them on the phone. I took my regret of not being able to say goodbye to Roy and channeled it into preventing future regrets.

I did the same for the times I talked with my grandparents, and that commitment paid off in 2003, when my Grandmother Lawson died. She was in the hospital, and a nurse answered the phone for her. The nurse relayed my words to her, and I heard her voice clearly for the last time.

"I love you too."

I think I wept for about all of 15 minutes on the plane back to Kansas City for her funeral -- and then I was done. I had no regrets. We both knew we loved each other. I had nothing more to say.

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