I once heard someone say that it’s not about which possessions you leave behind but which memories. Tied closely to this is a YouTube video I cannot find anymore that profoundly impacted me.
In short, it was about the simple love of a man for his wife. Every day this hard-working, unassuming man left his wife a note before he left for work. Sometimes it was a, “I love you.” kind of note. Sometimes a gentle reminder (or to remind him) about something. Other times just a simple “thank you” for a small act of kindness. When he passed, after something like 45 years of marriage, one of the things she missed the most was waking up after he’d left for work to see a note from him on the kitchen table.
I cried. Really I did. The very next day started my own tradition of leaving a wife for my note every single day I was out to work. She asked me repeatedly over the next several months why I had started doing that, to which I answered, “I got inspired.” I rarely miss writing her note and the few times I did miss (because I was running very late for work), she’d call me and say, “I missed my note this morning.”
I’ve honestly lost track of how long I’ve been doing this and it can sometimes be a challenge to keep it up since I try to never write the same thing twice (my wife says I am doing a very good job of it so far). I want to leave behind messages of love and gratefulness for her to look back on and be able to smile at through her tears. Not that I’m planning on dying any time soon… but then, how often does Death schedule an appointment?
This morning, as I wrote my daily note to my wife, I realized that I was neglecting my son! I missed out on a chance to leave something every day of his life, something that one day he could look back on and see how very much I love him and am proud of him (or not, but more on that in a moment). My first note to my son was undated, as all of my notes to my wife are and intentionally so. My wife added a date though and since he’s all of four and a half, maybe that is a good idea. After all, he won’t be little forever and soon won’t need mommy’s help to read my notes any more.
I’m hoping this small measure of communication will give me liberty to speak into his life that I might not otherwise have. Idealistic? Probably. Silly? Just a little. I don’t plan on using a serious tone unless absolutely necessary and I won’t turn it into a “DO THIS TODAY” list either. I want it to be a small reminder that I love him, am proud of him and that while I might make mistakes as a father, I always have his best interests at heart.
Who knows? This might fail catastrophically when he hits his teens but that’s 7.5 years off. I’m trying to be the man my son will want to be, not the one he grew up hating. That’s another post for another time though…
For the TLDR crowd: Write a note for your loved ones every day because you won’t be around forever.