I’ve been racked with guilt for many years by this experience.
I was a poor working student when I was assigned to the office of our new company consultant. I worked as her messenger and driver during the day. I worked and studied hard and caused no trouble. She convinced the owner of the company to start a college scholarship fund for their employees who were working students at night. Once they graduated, they could stay or work wherever they wanted, and work to send other needy employees to school. She took me under her wing and personally took care of my education. I not only got my degree, thanks to her generosity; she also taught me to be a cultured man.
We worked closely and became intimate the third year I worked for her. She bought me clothes, brought me to posh restaurants and places I had only heard of, and I rode on a plane for the first time to go on vacation.
I started knowing the life I had only heard of. When I graduated and found a good job, she even bought me a car. I felt so good that I promised, without thinking, to take care of her till we grew old together. Two years later, my new life got to my head. I started making excuses not to see her. She didn’t complain and told me she was happy that I found my life. I even found a girlfriend who caused me so much trouble.
Ten years passed after we lost contact. Then problems piled up in my career and personal life. I thought of the easy life I had with her. Her generosity and how selflessly she had loved me made me miss her. I called her and learned she was recuperating from a lingering illness. When we saw each other, I was shocked by how old she looked. I couldn’t look at her. I didn’t even hold her hand or kiss her on the cheek. I was almost ashamed to be seen with her. In less than half an hour, I made an excuse to leave. I never called her again.
Going home, I felt so guilty over how I treated her in the past and when we met again. What a beast I was! Without her, I wouldn’t be what I am. She taught me everything I learned about life, even how to make passionate love.
I am now a father of three and all my three relationships were painful mistakes. I know this is karma, and I can only say sorry at how ungrateful I was to the one woman I should have really loved.
Yes, what you did to her was cruel and mean. But you’re just being human and juvenile, and that arrogance said it all about your character. Being young, you believed that your sense of entitlement would go on for forever. Perish the thought, because the clock is not stopping for anyone, you included!
Now that reality has jolted you awake, learn to be constantly grateful to those who have helped you, and never forget those who were in your shoes when you were poor once upon a time. Include in that mission teaching your growing children the value of courtesy and kindness—and hopefully, they will not inherit your callous heart.
Since you can’t bring back the past and atone for your sins of omission to that kind woman, you can only do one thing now: Pay it forward.