How many times have we told someone how much we care about them before it’s too late? People have gone through this, and remorse outweighs all other emotions.

The following story serves as a reminder that we don’t have to wait for special occasions to show our feelings for individuals who are important to us.

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to treat my mother to dinner and a movie. “I love you,” she said, “but I know this other woman also loves you and would like to spend some time with you.” My wife also wanted me to pay a visit to my mother, who had been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my career and my three children made this impossible.

That night, I contacted her to invite her to dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you okay?” she asked. “I just thought it would be nice to spend some time with you,” I explained. “Just the two of us.” “That would be fantastic,” she replied.

As I drove over to pick her up after work on Friday, I was emotional. Her hair was curled, and she was dressed in the outfit she had worn to her previous wedding anniversary. She smiled as brightly as an Angel. “I told my friends that I was going out with my son, and they were impressed,” she remarked as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear all about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, while not particularly fancy, was extremely cozy and inviting. My mother clutched my arm as if she were the First Lady. Once we were seated, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read very large types. I caught Mom staring at me midway through the entries and lifted my gaze. Her lips formed a yearning smile. “It was I who had to read the menu to you when you were small,” she explained. “Then it’s time for you to unwind and let me repay the favor,” I explained.

We had a nice dinner conversation, nothing remarkable, just catching up on each other’s life. We were talking so much that we missed the movie. When we arrived at her house, she told us, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” My wife inquired when I returned home. “It’s really beautiful. Way more than I could have imagined,” I said. A few days later, my mother died after a massive heart attack. It happened so swiftly that I didn’t have time to assist her.

I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same establishment where my mother and I had dined. “I paid this bill in advance,” said an attached message. “I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to make it, but I purchased two plates: one for you and one for your wife. You’ll never know how much that night meant to me.”

“I love you, my son.” At that moment, I learned how vital it is to tell our loved ones, “I love you,” and to give them the time they need. Nothing in life is more essential than your family.

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