On episode 70 of the Meet the Parents podcast, we discussed the ‘Letters of Life’ written by Simon from Man vs. Pink and John from Dad Blog UK as part of a campaign for insurance provider Compare The Market. The concept was a novel one: to pass on words of wisdom to our children from beyond the grave.
It got me thinking. What would I want my kids to know in the event of my untimely demise? Here’s my attempt to do just that.
Dear children …
If you’re reading this letter, then one of two things has happened. You’ve either hacked my computer. Or I’ve died. If it’s the former, stop now before I make you watch the classic 80s movie WarGames as a warning of what happens if you delve too far into protected computer files. If the latter, keep going. I’ve got a few things I want to share with you now I can’t tell you in person.
Let’s start by getting all the melancholy stuff out of the way. It’s okay to be sad now but when you’re ready it’s time to move forwards rather than look back.
I had a good life. Shorter than I’d have liked but I’ve still watched you grow from tiny babies into fully fledged individuals with distinct personalities. I may be gone but there is a piece of me that lives on in each of you. As long as you remember that, I’ll always be there with you in spirit even if I’m no longer there in body.
It’s a cliché, I know, but I think the world of each of you in spite of all the times you have driven me up the wall. You’re amazing and unique and I have no doubt you have the potential to be anything you want to be if you set your minds to it.
Isaac. No longer a small child, not yet a young man. Struggling with hormones and trying to figure out your place in the world. The last year has been difficult and I know I’ve given you a hard time. But you still make me so proud and I’ve never loved you any less. Being the oldest child is both a privilege and a curse, now more than ever.
You’re the man of the house now but don’t grow up too fast at the expense of your childhood. And don’t be so hard on yourself, as I know you can be at times. Nobody expects you to be perfect. Just be the best you can be. That’s all anyone can ask of you.
Toby. The quiet, introverted middle child between two siblings who never stop demanding attention. And yet you’ve always been the one I ‘get’ the most because you’re basically a mini-me, for all the good and bad that entails.
Don’t allow yourself to wallow in your comfort zone and settle for good enough. Life is short – take it from someone who knows – so live a full one without regrets. Step out of the shadows and shine like the star I know you can be.
Kara. You will always have a special place in my heart. Daddy’s little princess. As the youngest, I fear you will remember the least about me as you grow up. But always remember this: I thought I was fulfilled as a father of two sons before you came along. You showed me a whole new side to fatherhood that I would otherwise never have experienced. As much as I have taught you, you have taught me so much more.
Never lose your feisty spirit and fierce sense of joy. The best of us are those who never forget how to tap into our childhood at those moments when being a grown-up feels most scary.
How do I want you all to remember me? I was one of life’s quiet guys: shy, serious, conservative. So remember my less serious side. The dad who danced around our living room with you when Strictly was on. The dad who sang with you in the car. The dad who taught you all how to burp.
I was never an exciting, inspirational, rah-rah kind of guy. But if you remember me as a good, happy dad, one who wanted more than anything for you to grow up to become good, happy people, I’ll take that.
I’ve seen so much of you growing up already but I will miss being a guiding hand to help you on your way to adulthood. I really wanted to see how you all turned out. If my passing counts for anything, let it serve as a reminder not to wait for tomorrow or to take anything for granted. Time flies.
One last thing. There will come a time when the roles will be reversed, when it will be your mum who needs you to look after her rather than her looking after you. When that time comes, treat her in a manner befitting everything she has done for you.
Whatever you end up doing in life, take the best lessons your mum and I had to teach you and use them to be more than just the sum of the two of us. Be more. Be you. And know that your dad would have been so proud of that, even though he won’t be there to see it.
You can read all the Letters of Life on the comparethemarket.com website here.