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When a person that you are close to passes away, I think it is natural to go through a period of introspection. It is natural to think about that person, your interaction with that person, and have some regrets.

As most of my readers and followers will know, my mother passed away last week. I left the United States about 18 years ago, and in that time I have never been back. One of the most frequent questions that I am asked is why I have not gone back to the United States.

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In the past, when asked that question, I always answer that I simply have had no desire or reason to go back. My mother came here to the Philippines three times, and I also talked with her very regularly. I usually tried to call her daily on a video phone call either through Skype or Facebook. We would not be able to connect every day, sometimes she was busy, or simply did not answer her phone for some other reason, but we did talk very frequently. I’m very thankful for this.

So why haven’t you gone back?

Today, one week after my mother’s death, the question came to my mind – why haven’t I gone back to the United States in 18 years? Seriously, the answer that I’ve always given true, but I just wondered, and have been pondering if there is a deeper reason for the fact that I have not returned.

I suppose that there is more of a reason.

As I mentioned in my last article, when Feyma and I decided to move to the Philippines it really caused a lot of contention in my family. At that time, my family consisted only of my mother, my brother, and I.  Of course, my brother and I each had our own families, but I am talking about the family that I grew up with.

For some reason, my mother felt that I left the United States to get away from her. I never really understood her feeling about that, and it certainly was not true. There were really basically two reasons that we decided to move to the Philippines.

  1. I felt like I wanted a change and a bit of adventure.
  2. Our oldest son has special needs, and we felt that he would be well served by being surrounded by a very large extended family here in the Philippines. We felt that we would get a lot of help in raising our son in this environment. Our hopes in this regard were confirmed, and even my mother agreed after time that our son was well loved, well treated, and best served by us living here.

Even though my mother came to see that our son really was best under our life in the Philippines, she still never really accepted the fact that we left. She would go through times when she would agree that we had done the right thing, but would always end up going back that we were wrong, and we left to get away from her. I never could understand these feelings, but that is how she felt.

As I said, when we made the decision to move, it really caused a lot of contention. My brother seemed okay with us moving, but after we had been in the Philippines for a couple of years, he basically cut off communication with me. Over the last 15 years or so, I have only talked to my brother a few times until recently. That has been a very painful part of my life.

So, today, I have been going through a period of introspection, trying to decipher why I really had never gone back to the United States. I hit upon what I believe to be the truth. I mean everything I have said is true, but I guess I got to the core of the issue.

If I had gone back

If I had gone back to the United States, I certainly would’ve felt an obligation to have gone to visit my mother and probably my brother, even though my brother had not talked to me. Knowing the contention that I had gone through with my family at the time of our move, I just did not want to go through that again. I also felt that if I had gone back to the United States, my mother would have most likely considered that a sign that I was going to come back and stay. I don’t believe that will ever happen. I enjoy my life here in the Philippines, and really see no reason to leave.

In the last few years, there have been several times when I was very close to going back to the United States for one reason or another, but only for a visit, not permanent. It may happen that I will go back for a visit, possibly even this year. There is some business there regarding our oldest son which I would like to go back and take care of. So, who knows, perhaps I will go back this year, perhaps next year.

Last year, Feyma went back for the first time, and from all indications, the time that she spent with my mother was good. They rekindle their relationship to some extent, and I think she was glad that she had that time with my mom.

In some ways, I regret not having gone back, in other ways I feel it was the best thing that I did not. It is just hard to say for sure. We can never know how life would change if we had done things differently. I am happy, though, that I kept in close touch with my mother, and did my best to show her that leaving the United States had nothing to do with her.

So, I really have to say that the reason that I did not return to the United States over the past 18 years is that I just did not want to go through the heartache that was put on me at the time that we left.

I know that some people will still not understand why I did not return to the United States, but to me, it makes perfect sense. As I said, I may go back for a vacation, visit with friends, and hopefully with my brother. Since the passing of my mother, I feel that my brother and I have been working well together to take care of the things that need to be done due to the death. So, perhaps there is a possibility that we can rekindle our brotherly relationship, and I hope it is possible.

It is sad to me that it is because of the death of my mother that I decided to closely examine my feelings about this issue.

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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David Haldane
3 years ago

Nice piece, Bob, very thought-provoking. I didn’t realize that you hadn’t gone back even for a visit in all those years. And I’m glad that perhaps at least one good thing will come from your mother’s death; the reconciliation between you and your brother. I also have a very stormy relationship with my brother which, unfortunately, will probably never be rekindled, even though he also ended up marrying a Filipino, specifically my wife’s cousin. Anyway, I enjoyed your piece…

Bob Martin
3 years ago
Reply to  David Haldane

Thank you, David.

Families are a funny thing, aren’t they? I never understood why my brother stopped talking to me, but that is water under the bridge now. Hopefully, you and your brother can also reconcile! Good luck.

Alexander Mooney
3 years ago

Deep down inside I think people blame themselves sometimes when they really want to blame another. They don’t have the heart to blame that person so the next best thing is to tell that person “it’s because of me”. No mother would want their child to move away, but things always work themselves out for the best. I’m not saying this applies to every case, or even your case but merely my opinion on family interactions from my point of view.

Bob Martin
3 years ago

Hi Alexander. I think you are 100% correct but I also think that the opposite is true as well. For example, some people try to put the blame on others when they deserve the blame. Know what I mean?

Alexander Mooney
3 years ago

Bob Definitely. Those people who just can’t be blamed and the entire world is at fault. Couldn’t possibly be their fault. So then:
#1 When someone blames you that means they can’t take responsibility
#2 When they blame themselves we call it reverse psychology.

HAHA lose-lose situations ?

Bob Martin
3 years ago

Alexander Mooney Ha ha.. it goes both ways, for sure.


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