I wrote this post last September, but didn’t publish it because it was too soon at the time and the emotions were too raw. I found it again while looking through my notes, and it corresponded to someone asking me “when’s the last time your cried?” After four months, I feel a little more comfortable sharing this.
About an hour ago, I received word that my grandma passed away at the age of 90. I’m bawling my eyes out, not because I’m sad (my grandma made it abundantly clear to all of us that she was ready), but because I realized just how freaking lucky I was to have physically been there for her the last few months of her life.
I moved out to California three months ago. I made a point to have lunch with her once every week or so.
My uncle made a point to take her out for “junk food’ once in a while just for a treat. The first time we took her out to Carls Jr for hamburgers. The second time I treated them to Raising Canes chicken fingers. The third time, we went to Irvine for Taiwanese food. There, she saw a 2 year old kid and her face lit up. Little did I know, that was going to be the last time she would be able to go out for lunch.
Another time she pulled me aside in her room and gave me a red envelope to welcome me to California.
Most recently, she was in the hospital because of a fall. I was able to visit her and talk to her when she was still awake and alert. Soon after that, she started to sleep more and more. The last thing she was able to say to me, as I was leaving for a trip to Las Vegas, was “don’t drive too fast.” Today, as I left her room, I said what would be the last good bye to her as she slept.
Each of these moments was priceless.
No one on their deathbed says they wish they worked more hours. My time and location flexibility allowed me to be there.
I’ve gotten well-intentioned concern from friends, family, and others about the business I’m developing. I’m sure I’ve been judged by many others, including potential business partners, potential significant others, community leaders, and peers. Working for time, location, and financial freedom doesn’t have the same marketability as being a founder of a multi-million dollar startup or a vice president of something. I can’t brag about how many employees I have (zero, unless you include me), how much venture capital funding I have (also zero), or how nice my corner penthouse office is (unless you count my desk at home or my local Starbucks).
I was even lucky enough to see my other grandma last November. I spent 9 days in Taipei Taiwan, accompaning my mom (my dad was at home with babysitting duties for my nephew) back to her home to help with my other grandma’s affairs. I was able to visit my her and my family in Taiwan. Two months after returning from that trip, my other grandma passed away in her sleep.
I’m not done piling up the priceless moments I am able to have because of how I’ve set up my business. I’ve discovered there’s a word missing in the English language: the opposite of regret. Happiness, contentment, satisfaction… those words just don’t have the emotional impact that “regret” has. I cried tears of “the opposite of regret.” I think it’s time we come up with this word.