Eddie The Eagle riding the lift prior to jumps at the Calgary site of the 1988 Olympics in March 2017. (Picture by Orville Barlow)

IT’S amazing how sometimes a good song can mean so much to listeners. One that comes to mind is a 1980s hit titled The Living Years, made popular by the band Mike and The Mechanics.

According to songfacts.com, the song was written from the perspective of a son who had a conflicted relationship with his father. After his father died, he discovered that he and his father had a much stronger bond than he realised. The son regretted not reaching out to his father while the latter was still alive.

Apparently, singer-songwriter Mike Rutherford had also experienced a similar situation. He admitted that he was so wrapped up in his own career at one point that he had neglected his loved ones, especially his father.

The achingly sad beginning of the song reflected his experience:

I wasn’t there that morning

When my father passed away

The song is now an iconic hit and a powerful reminder of how fragile a relationship can be.

Be it a relationship between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters (or parents and children in general), conflicts are bound to happen.

What matters is how we resolve the conflict positively and not run away from it.

The song talks about how the father and son couldn’t see eye to eye on various issues. As a result, their relationship grew estranged and they disconnected from each other. Unfortunately, it took death to make him realise his mistakes.

What does this mean for the rest of us? Are we taking our family relationships for granted? Are we stuck in our comfort zones and have stopped trying to resuscitate our failed relationships and make them better?

Or will we wait for our loved ones to pass on before we begin to miss them?


A better strategy is to make it count while they’re still around. If you still have your elderly parents, please ensure that you contact them regularly. Better still, bring your children along to pay them a surprise visit.

We shouldn’t wait for special occasions or holidays to make such a trip. It can be done more often and not just relegated to sporadic visits.

Create an opportunity to mend any broken relationships. Sometimes they may do things for us which we do not like; perhaps we could stop resenting their unwanted efforts and appreciate them despite it.

Chances are, they had very good intentions when doing what they did. After all, we are their flesh and blood. They only have our wellbeing in mind.

At the end of the day, life is too short to remain disconnected from our family. Regardless of the differences, there will always be solutions and a way out of whatever disputes or disagreements we may have with them. We just have to keep on reaching out, connecting and talking, and not be ruled by our negative emotions all the time.

Just like what the song is trying to tell us:

Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

It’s too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at zaid@smartparents.com.my

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