In the past three years, both of my parents have died. My father died at 59 from an injury at work—it was very sudden. My mother died at 61 due to an illness—we saw it coming but it was still fairly sudden. To say that I haven’t spent some time contemplating mortality over the past few years would be a fallacy. I don’t think I’m in full-bore mid-life crisis, but with a fifteen-year-old daughter, a one-year-old son, and another daughter due in just a few weeks, I have spent a little time lately thinking about how to make sure that they’ll remember me when I’m gone.
So, enough with the doom and gloom and on with the list of things that I think everyone should do to leave their lasting impression on their kids and loved ones.
Whether you’re a prolific troubadour or a scribbler of notes on napkins, record them in your own voice and put the tapes in a box or the files on a hard drive. I have a few precious recordings of my parents’ voices and I treasure them. I’ve also recorded a few simple songs of my own for my kids to have years from now.
I was raised watching the Muppet Show and have many fond memories of watching that show with my parents. Recently, I searched and found some of my favorite segments and songs and shared them with my kids. Now they run around the house singing “Mahna Mahna” and they know why it’s so funny!
The writing I do on this site and others, as well as my podcast not only help me to express and understand my work-a-day life, but they also serve to chronicle this particular point in my life. I hope that these writings and shows live on in cyber-perpetuity so that my kids can enjoy them when I’m gone and remember this part of their young lives and good times with their dad.
Eat right and exercise so that you live as long as possible, but start some traditions that are easy to continue. Most weekends, I make pancakes for breakfast and the entire family sits around the table, listens to music and talks about their lives. This tradition may, years from now, mean that anytime my kids enjoy pancakes they will think back on these happy times.
Don’t let a day go by that you fail to both tell and show your kids that you love them. They may not remember your words, the sacrifices you make, or the vacations you take, but they will remember the feeling of love you have for them. Even more, you’re teaching them how to love others. There needs to be as much love in the world as possible, so when you tell and show your kids you love them you’re not only teaching them an important lesson you’re paying it forward for the rest of the world.
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