For the rest of this week, I’m going to discuss the goals I’m setting for 2012 and the plans I have for achieving them.
When I think back to some of the people in my life that have passed away that I greatly miss, one of the things that really bothers me is that I don’t have some memento of their life that lets me have at least a sense of the person that they were. All I have are memories, a few old home movies, and lots of photographs.
The one exception to this is my great grandmother, who spent a significant amount of time during the last few years of her life writing something of an autobiography. I had the opportunity to read most of it once and, in the near future, I’m hoping to be able to have a copy of it of my own and read it again. It’s just a way to touch the thoughts of a person that I loved very much that I’ll not be able to see again in this life.
This, of course, brings me to thoughts of the people I love the most: my wife and my children. What will they have to know me by if something were to happen to me?
I’m not foolish enough to think that I’m infallible. I’ve protected their financial future with a sensible life insurance policy and an estate plan.
What I’d like to do is, in some way, protect their emotional future as well. What would I want to leave for them as people if something were to happen to me?
For my children, there’s simply a lot of life advice that I want to impart on them as they grow older, become adults, and face their careers and lives. I’d like them to know about their ancestry and I’d also like for them to be able to know something of the person that I was, what I held dear, and what I felt about them.
For my wife, the mission is a bit different. She already knows most of the things that I would leave for my children. What I would want to leave for her is a different gift: the knowledge that I loved her very much and that I want her to move on and have new experiences and a new life after I leave, whatever those may be. I think a lot about the scrapbook that Ellie created for Walt in the movie Up that recollects their lives shared together and ends with an admonition that Walt creates his own adventures.
This is challenging work, but it’s also valuable work. It’s something I can give to my children when they become adults even if I’m completely fine. It’s something I can continue to update throughout our marital life and leave for Sarah.
My goal in 2012 is simple: I want to create a journal/scrapbook for each of my children and for my wife that collects together the things mentioned above. I want them to have these items if something were to happen to me in the near future, and I want to give them to my children as they reach adulthood. As for my wife’s book, I’ll leave it for her to find it when the time is right.
For the most part, these will take the form of handwritten journals. I communicate so much through the written word that this seems natural to me. Although the material covered in the journals for my children will be similar, I’m going to write them each individually and I hope that they do vary some.
As for my wife’s memento, I hope to just recollect everything that’s happened in our lives together to this point and add to it regularly, with a note on the last page reminding her that I love her and that I want her to have a beautiful life, whatever that may be.
If a time comes in their life where they yearn to reach out and touch me in some way after I’m gone, perhaps I will have left behind something that can fulfill them at that moment when they need it.