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Following up my award winning post, “The Dad Vibe’s Top 11 Dad movies of all time”, I did finally see “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” with Tom Hanks last night.

This is not my chance to critique the movie and tell how I would have improved it (the Sandra Bullock mother character was brutal) – but once you strip away all the parts of the movie that didn’t quite work, the movie did cause many ‘lump in throat’ moments and teary eyes for me.   Essentially, this is the story of a boy who loses his father on 9/11 and how he strives to make sense and deal with the massive loss of his involved loving dad.

The most impactful part of this movie was an emotional scene between mother and son, discussing the things they miss about his father – from the hugs, the way he shrugged his shoulders, to his voice telling him he loves them.  But, what the boy remembers most are the great games and adventures he played with his dad.  His dad built up his confidence (poker chips) by focusing on what his clever son was interested in and was good at.

All the best father/son movies force me to think about my dad and also my son.  So here is my question for you – whether you are a dad, mom, grandpa, or auntie…  Heaven forbid, but if you did die TOMORROW at 9:00am, after the shock and sadness, what would your children remember most about you?

Today, right NOW… What would your legacy be in their eyes?   Would they remember the trips you took?  The gifts you bought?  The bedtime kisses?  Or the time you both got incredibly muddy racing homemade boats in the river?

Depending upon the age of your children, your answers may vary.  How many quality memories and experiences have you provided for them?  What would bring smiles to their eyes?

For myself, I would hope that every time my children saw a trampoline, they would smile and remember all the double bumps, cracked eggs, popcorn, and Bob the Blob.  I would hope every time they saw a bird, they would smile and think about all the time we spent looking upward.  I hope they would fondly remember our bedtime routines complete with books, tickles, and bear hugs.

I’m actually a little emotional thinking about this… I could list off a thousand things I hope would bring smiles to their eyes, but most of all, I would hope they remembered the laughter and the hugs – I hope they would say to their friends, “My dad loved life, laughter, and most of all, he loved ME”…

I realize this is a deeper topic than Benji and bathroom etiquette, but take a few quiet moments and really think about it… I used to teach at a private college in town here and often had my students write their own eulogy, beginning with the end in mind…

How do you want to be remembered?  What memories do you want your children to cling tight to?  What stories will your children tell their children about their grandpa?   “You would have loved your grandpa, he was so …………..”    Fill in your own blanks…

You gotta be honest and really ask yourself – would they REALLY say that right now?  If so, AWESOME!  Stay the course and enjoy!   If not, you have some work to do… have a vision and be present!  How else can your children treasure time spent with you if you are not really present?  Simple recipe for success – be present and involved – You can’t lose!

The time is NOW to start being THAT guy…

Until next time…

Comments

comments

  • Sean Haughian Apr 11, 2012 Reply

    Jeff, I frequently think about am I doing enough as a dad? We know of course that one must take care of self to fully love others and ensure you are there for your significant other. Given that, how much time is enough? Well most kids will say “it’s never enough”, “c’mon dad, one more push on the tire swing”, “can we wrestle just a few more minutes??”, “just a few more pages, pleeease…?”
    It’s hard sometimes to say no also……….sometimes leaving them wanting more is a good thing…..I feel I do alot personally and for my 2 daughters and wife but always wonder is my time truly divided evenly…and do they all see it that way….?? Everyone wants more time with those they love but I think if we always keep asking ourselves and them if they think it’s enough we’ll ensure them and ourselves this is happening…just wondering if we do is probably a good first step…knowing we should do more, or something different is a great second…now let’s put that into action!!………. #3……..Sean

    • Jeff Apr 12, 2012 Reply

      Hey Sean!
      Welcome to the Dad Vibe! Thanks for your great insight — yes, it’s true – there is always the question of “Have I done enough?” – where is the balance? As you say, awareness of self and family is the key — and by constantly asking and questioning yourself and how you spend your valuable time – you can’t help but be involved!!!
      Sean, you sound like a very involved dad and I look forward to learning from you!

  • Hugh Apr 11, 2012 Reply

    Love this. Such a biggie to get my head around. Sometimes I think I’m doing great and that my legacy would make me proud and other days…..
    And now that my gals are teenagers they need me a lot less, so our time together is even more important..
    Thanks for the reminder Jeff!

    • Jeff Apr 12, 2012 Reply

      Hey Hugh,
      I also welcome you to the Dad vibe! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As the father of teenage girls, I hope to learn from you! How have you kept your bond and attachment strong? Time is our greatest asset as a parent – how have you used yours? Our DV community can learn a lot from you! Thanks for sharing!

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