Posted by: Kathy | May 7, 2012

Future Plans…Vanished

If you’re like me, life is very busy. Work. Kids. Pets. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Laundry, dishes, other household chores. After school activities. Our bedtime routine. The list never seems to end. Sometimes I feel like I’m on autopilot, doing what needs to get done before the day comes to an end.

My parents also worked very hard. My dad, a physician, always worked long hours, and still does. My mom was a stay at home mom, but then began volunteer work once my brother and I got older. Eventually, she ended up working for a nonprofit organization and in 10 years’ time she singlehandedly raised over $4 million for patients with HIV/AIDS and their families. My mom and dad were committed to doing the best at their jobs, but they were also looking forward to retirement. Unfortunately, a few months after my mom officially retired she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With that diagnosis, their future plans of travel and just spending time together without work commitments vanished.

I’ve been thinking about the future a lot lately. My husband recently moved to second shift (1:30-10 pm), so now he’s not home to spend time with the kids after school, or for dinner or bedtime. It has made the time we spend together as a family on the weekends even more valuable. I think of how we need to actually plan a vacation this year so we can have more time together as a couple and a family. Sadly, I also think of my parents, all the plans they were dreaming about and even planning for their future together after retirement, and how quickly that just disappeared.

In November 2008, we were planning to go to Disney World as a family. It would have been my son’s second trip with my parents and my daughter’s first visit. My mom did so well for months, but during the last few weeks of October 2008, we knew she wasn’t going to survive her battle with pancreatic cancer and would never be able to make the trip to Florida. The trip was cancelled. It was a sad moment for all of us, but the right thing to do. A few months ago, my daughter looked at the collage of pictures we have from Matt’s 2006 trip to Disney with my parents and asked why she isn’t in the pictures. I explained to her that she was only a few months old, too young to go to Disney then. I wish we could have gone to Disney again before my mom died so that Nikki would have some pictures from that magical place with my mom. But it wasn’t meant to be.

My mom’s illness and death have made me realize how fragile life can be and how something unexpected can permanently change the future.



  1. Like you, my dad’s a physician. He and my mom married late, mom around 38 and dad at 39. My mom was 39 when I was born, and gave birth to my sister at 40. When she got married, she let go of a beautiful career in New York and moved here to the Philippines to live with my dad whose family ran a hospital. She was a hands on mom. She never worked again after getting married. She loved her career but chose family. I think also, because perhaps she enjoyed all 20 years of her single life to the fullest. What I admire from her is that she never used that against us. She never told us, “i did this for you,” or “i gave this up for you”. I guess she wanted the same thing for her kids, that we enjoy and do everything we want to do before settling down. In a way, I think I did. But there’s still that part of me that wants to do and learn more. She encouraged that. She was very vocal about my life decisions, so I guess you can say that some, if not most of it, were from her. I am not living the life she left behind when she got married, but I am living something out of the principles she thought me. But then again, it gets hard, sometimes because that very piece of building block is not there anymore.

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