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If President Barack Obama could turn back the hands of time, he says he’d spend more time with his mother.

The POTUS shared his biggest regret with students at the University of Malaya in Malaysia on Sunday. “I regret not having spent more time with my mother, because she died early, she got cancer right around when she was my age. Actually, it happened very fast, in about six months,” he said of his mom Ann Dunham, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 1995 at age 53.

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“There was a stretch of time from when I was, let’s say, 20 until I was 30, where I was so busy with my own life that I didn’t always reach out and communicate with her and ask her how she was doing and tell her about things,” he continued. “I was nice and I’d call and write once in a while. But this goes to what I was saying earlier about what you remember in the end I think is the people you love. I realized that I didn’t – every single day, or at least more often – just spend time with her and find out what she was thinking and what she was doing, because she had been such an important part of my life.”

He went on to say that his behavior stemmed from his “complicated” family life, growing up without a father and “sometimes I was enjoying life too much.”

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“You have to focus more on what kind of influence and impact are you going to have on other people’s lives,” he told the young scholars. He added that family is the most significant source of his happiness, and “feeling as if I’ve been true to my beliefs and that I’ve lived with some integrity.”


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