No Regrets

March 4, 2009

At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens. As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill’s wife would give birth to their first child about the time that the US team would be competing in the Paris games. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma.

Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife’s side when their baby was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain with his family?

Bill’s wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, competing in the Olympics was the culmination of a life-long dream. But Bill felt conflicted and, after much soul-searching, decided to withdraw from the competition and remain home where he could support his wife when the child arrived. As it turned out, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal in Paris. And Bill’s wife was late in giving birth to their child. The birth was so late, in fact, that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she delivered.

People said, “What a shame.” But Bill said he had no regrets. For the rest of his life, he believed he had made the better decision. Bill Havens knew what was most important to him. There is an interesting sequel to the story.

The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read: “Dad, I won. I’m bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born.”

Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did.

Once a champion always a champion if not now then through the next generation.

This beautiful story by Steve Goodier in his E-newsletter entitled “The Life Support System” reminds us of what is most important in life.

I have a great relationship with my son.

Two years ago, the two of us co-wrote a book on “Paren-teen” and we had fun doing it. The book is entitled: “Why Don’t You Grow Up… Dad!”
I’m proud of him and I see the maturity he shows as the years go by.

He’s into a lot of things now. Totally business minded he enjoys working for a very successful company doing marketing stuffs and meanwhile pursues his passion for music as he plays the drums for a fast rising popular band. He’s into sports too. He does Brazilian Jujitsu, Capuera and boxing and the day he went into martial arts was the day I have decided to be kinder to him.

He tells me he wants to have his own family by the time he hits 30 so that’s a good many years away but that is the precise reason why I am so careful with the way I live. I have to be an example to him because I want him to have a successful family too.

He sees me as a businessman and he likes to be one too and that’s good.

He sees me taking good care of my health and he does the same thing and that’s good too.

But the one thing I want to see in him is that he will have a God-centered family one day and this is why I need to make sure that mine is today.

My son and I know that real men are not those you see fooling around with other women; real men are those who are big enough and brave enough to stay true to their roles as a faithful husband to his wife and a diligent father to his kids.


10. Comes home directly from work knowing his “real” job is about to start.

9. Is not afraid to get down on hands and knees and play “horsie”.

8. Kisses his children and shows them a man can be gentle.

7. Kisses his wife in front of his children so the children can be secure in the knowledge of a united home.

6. Hugs his family and says “I love you.”

5. Is not afraid to cry.

4. Goes with his family to church.

3. Values the advice of his wife.

2. Starts each day with a “quiet time”, talking to the Lord.

And the number one thing:
1. Willing to give his own life for his family.

The question now is how are you doing in this list?

Take advantage of the Lenten season to be with your family. You have to plan and schedule time with your family well just as you do with business commitments. Let the words of businessman Lee Iacocca be a reminder for all of us for this is what he says: “No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?”

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. rhyme

    as a aboy growing up virtually without a father , felt i choked up reading this article … reminds me that now is the day to make things better , to reclaim what i should have had , a loving and caring family. i’m doing it now with my little girl , showing the kind of love i never experienced from my dad.thanks francis. what a blessing ! God is good!

  2. Kenneth

    Hello Sir Francis,

    Like Rhyme, your article and its lesson was a bitter pill for me to swallow. It’s not that I didn’t grow up without a father. It’s just that my father is not like you in looking at life and in making efforts to be a good role model for your children. It’s just that the mistakes he made…I also made and my relationship with my kids were severed. However, the situation does not mean that I have to remain depressed, guilty and hopeless. As pointed out in many of your articles – one must learn to forgive oneself for just being human and to accept that Jesus also forgave me for the sins and mistakes I made. I must not be too hard on myself but I must learn from my situation and prepare and do things to pave the way for the forgiveness of my children and to rekindle the relationship with them in the future by forgiving my father as well. I have to break the chains of repeating history in my family. The article you shared is relevant to me at present in learning from my past and as I prepare for the future. I pray to God for forgiveness and for strenght and guidance so as not to repeat the sadness and sorrow I caused in the hearts of my kids. God bless.


  3. Cornel

    As a former guidance counselor, I’ve personally seen the devastation brought about by emotional distance of fathers to young people. Addiction in a lot of forms (illegal drugs, illicit relationships, compulsive malling, obsessive shopping and playing games on the computer for hours) is rampant. Men become effeminate and ladies become less lady-like. And all it takes is a big emotional jolt (like a death in the community) for men to take stock and prioritize their families.

    The diaspora of Overseas Filipino Workers is continuing to ferment an explosive problem, that of a fatherless Filipino generation.

    Sadly even the Sacred Scriptures confirm this in Malachi 4: 6 “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” This, the last verse of the Old Testament, needs to be taken seriously especially here in the Philippines if we want the curse of a fatherless generation averted.

    This is why everytime I am given an opportunity to speak to fathers regarding success, this area (success in the family) is given much emphasis.

    Thank you for articles like these. Hope you can have a conference where this special reminder could be discussed at length.

  4. Gina de Ocampo

    Thanks heaps for sharing. I do miss your inspirational stories. May all the fathers, and parents, out there may be one such as this. Blessings!

  5. EJ

    This one is a real tearjerker Mr Kong- it hit right home.

    My family is the total opposite of your family or even Bill Havens.

    My dad, oh well, he didn’t grow up until now; not done yet with womanizing and whatever and he’s 50! (But i have been praying for him until now.) To date, he had 7 families and no child has ever been supported by him in any ways.

    One great thing about my parent;s separation (let me call it great please) is, we became Christian.

    My mom, now 45 , raised the three of us – all girls and now professionals graduating from reputable schools. Her position in the government takes away whatever little time that she has for us. She made a name due to her humanitarian efforts, helping the youth, becoming a great mentor, a leader and a true-blooded public servant but.. you know the rest of the story.

    I perfectly understand that she has to work in order to provide for our needs and there’s no room for “family time” during my younger days. But i never complained, resorted to bad vices or wrong companionships. Instead, it motivated me to prepare for my future, praying for guidance, right direction and will of the Lord.

    At 23, I have but one dream, and that is to have a Christ-centered family of my own.

    Everyday, i am in a quest for becoming a woman of noble character.

    Thank you for this inspiring story Mr. Kong.

  6. Jimie

    I still have a long way to go and God is taking me there.
    Thank you so much. Inspiring indeed. God bless you…

  7. dan

    can’t wait to be a husband, and a dad. =)

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