Hurting Mum

Honour you father and mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you. (Ex 20:12 NJB)

For all the accusatory finger-pointing that I had directed at others, I am blameworthy of hurting Mum too. All the weeks that I had looked after Mum when she was acutely indisposed, I especially regretted an incident where I reproached Mum for being slow in getting up from bed for her breakfast.

I had prepared her meal and tried to coax her to get out of bed. She must have been in pain or still feeling drowsy from the effects of the painkillers. When I checked on her fifteen minutes later, she was still in bed. I was sleep-deprived. The open sore on my buttocks made sitting very unpleasant. I got impatient and annoyed.

I do not remember now what I said to Mum but up till today, I am still haunted by the pained look on her face – pained not from her illness but from the disappointment of how unsympathetic I could be to her condition. At a time when she needed me most, I had convincingly failed her.

She looked at me blankly after that and immediately I could hear her thoughts, “Did all those years of looking after you as a baby and then as a paralysed son mean nothing?” Or perhaps that was my scruples talking aloud inside me.

Honour your father and mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, so that you may have long life and may prosper in the country which Yahweh your God is giving you. (Deut 5:16 NJB)

I regretted that incident and another time, before Mum became ill, when we had a disagreement over an appliance that she had bought. I raised my voice and screamed at her. We did not talk for the whole day after that. Later in the evening, when we were having dinner together, I could see the hurt in her eyes. She cooked me a good meal anyway.

As I saw Mum slowly slipping away, I had wanted to apologise for all the things I did that had hurt her. I did not. There will always be another time, I reasoned. She never got to hear those apologetic words that would have soothed me now. This is something that I needed to do to find my own peace. I am truly remorseful that I will never get the opportunity to apologise to Mum again for those outbursts.

This I can never make amends to anymore. Mum surely would had forgiven me soon after each altercation. But can I forgive myself? My conscience pricks me each time the Fourth Commandment crosses my mind. Every time I think about Mum, thoughts of how I had inflicted emotional pain on her would come back to haunt me. Nothing I do now can change that fact. This is a guilt I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

For Moses said: Honour your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. (Mk 7:10 NJB)

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

14 thoughts on “Hurting Mum”

  1. Those are very painful memories, yes. But the love and understanding your mom and you had go above and beyond those words. At the end of the day, there is only love. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

  2. I believe your mum loved you till the end. There is nothing more than a mother’s love (and a father’s one, I guess as well). But I know how you feel, and these are things you can never ever turn back. But you couldn’t foresee those either.

    I was and still am angry with me that I didn’t take leave the year before my father died. I thought that soon, my time in Malaysia is finished and than I would see him anyway. I didnt. I still regret my decision, but that is the reason, why I want to see my mum as often as possible, in order to avoid a similar situation.

    Not helpful in your case, but thanks for sharing, Peter! You are a great guy!

  3. Marita,
    That has taught me that things that need to be said MUST be said lest the opportunity slips away forever.

    May you have many more years with your mum. She must be so lucky to have you as a son. God bless you.

  4. Hi Peter, parental love is great. Regardless how rebellious I was as a child, my mom kept me from straying away. She never give up on me. Goodness know the things I’ve said in the past that hurt her but she also knows how much I love her. At the end of the day, I think that superceed every wrong done.

    If she, the receiver of your grunt had forgiven you, I’m sure you could forgive yourself too.

  5. as a daughter I believe everything my mum did was only means good too me.
    as a mother I shower love to my daughters with my whole heart and soul.

  6. We all do or say things we sometimes regret but I believe your mother’s unconditional love for you would have included forgiveness in every situation. Perhaps it’s time to allow God’s grace to help you forgive yourself and remember only the good times you had shared with your mum.

  7. Peter, don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m sure all that she wants is for you to be happy. And thus, you must live happily so as not to let her down.

  8. Peter
    The fact that you realised what you had done, openly confessed it and repented, God, our Father in Heaven surely has forgiven you and has never faulted you over it. He does not bear grudges against us and is such a loving Father. And with a filial son like you, your mom and dad will be greatly blessed in Heaven. Please do not see The Word as so harsh, Peter! God only wants to love us and care for us, God never put any curses on us, never ever! Our God is a forgiving God. Amen.

  9. Peter – peace be upon you! You’ve done your best with caring for your Mum. I am a mother myself so trust me – that no matter how harshly you may have spoken to her – she loved you! Now no turning back, look forward and know that Mum loved you and she’s prolly watching our for you .. Again – peace.

  10. hi peter,

    i think that what has passed has passed… you have learnt a lesson on what to say or how to behave in the future. that is great!

    i think there is no need, and no use to beat yourself up over it anymore. i think your mom wouldn’t want to see you in pain over this as i believe her loving nature has already forgiven you.

    take care peter,


  11. Chee Aun,
    Mum passed away almost two years ago but thank you for your concern.

    The act of asking for forgiveness and then being forgiven would have been a better consolation than the thought being forgiven. But those thoughts are all I can cling on to now to console myself.

    That should have been the way.

    I remember posting a comment to a similar subject in your blog. Forgiving myself for all the hurt that I inflicted on Mum will be very difficult. That is all I can do now – forgiving myself although it will never be the same. With strength from God, I am sure I will eventually recover from this.

    It is not whether God forgave me for those actions but whether I can find it in myself to forgive those transgressions and move on. It is my guilt pricking my conscience – one that will be difficult to push aside at the moment.

    I know she is. Look forward I will to seek my peace and solace in God.

    Now I know better. There is this saying that words are like water, once thrown out, cannot be retrieved. Most things that I do know, I think it through first. I learnt my lesson albeit a painful one.

  12. Dear Peter…
    We all have regrets if we have loved,lived, had conscience, are consciencious…
    To have become the people we are, did not the goodness and example of our beloved parents; guidance inspire much of that feeling? Certainly your Mother knew more profoundly than anyone else, your own inner workings…your strengths and weaknesses, your heartsounds…and certainly she would have been the first to forgive.
    When we remember with pain, the things we regret and feel remorse for, what is missing is that we never remember back to just exactly what events could have transpired on that particular day to have caused us to lash out or react in an uncharacteristic way…many times there were events or emotional preludes to it that caused it, although we usually only remember that we “did” it but none of the extenuating circumstances.
    I completely understand how it feels to berate oneself and to be filled with regret…yet with God’s mercy and forgiveness, all is forgiven so you must then purge yourself of these regrets and look to God and know that all is forgiven and forgotten and beat yourself up NO LONGER!
    As you have had to face your own mortality, and your life’s direction has altered, introspection and a deep need to come to terms with things, as well as regrets from past mistakes all converge upon us. Taking these in hand, analyzing them, putting them in perspective are some of the many steps we take…yet, those seemingly unsolveable, irreparable, painful incidents seem to grip onto us and hold us prisoner, and we mustn’t let them. Regret…shows how much one has grown and deepened and regret can teach us as we learn from past mistakes.. As we become weakened with ill health and depression, regret and remorse may become an insidious force, keeping us from more important things by causing us to obsess about “what we should have done”, our depression deepens and we fail healthwise, emotionally and spiritually. When we ask God for forgiveness, and we have fully repented, we need to shed that which God has forgiven us and move forward, believing in His mercy. God wants us to give these things over to Him, that He may bring us healing and we may rejoice in life.
    I hope you will allow God to lift this pain from you so you may find inner peace…I think of you often and keep you in my prayers…Love Koda

  13. Koda,
    I have to live with what we have done but cannot be rectified. This has taught me to be careful with my words and emotions to people I care most.

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