For those of us who are parents there is that moment when we wonder what our children will say about us when we are dead. For the last several weeks I have presided and preached at several funerals, each one including an adult child or two standing in front of friends and family to reflect on who their mother/father was to them. I confess I don’t think about this much. I am blessed to have a life partner who is the guru of parenting, the Dali Lama of motherhood, the Roy Hobbes of mentorship. I know Lucy will count herself blessed to have had Kim in her life and vice versa.
I expect Lucy will have mixed feeling about her Dad, I taught her a strong work ethic, to not be afraid to be different and to be a considerate person. I suspect I will get some credit for this. But I was/am away at work a lot, I am not very emotionally accessible and I rarely live in the moment. All of this would likely garner me a B- grade in most books, which I think is very fair.
I guess what I hope for is that when I am dead Lucy will know that I loved her, thoroughly enjoyed her company (when I was around) and thought he a considerate person. That would be enough.
How about you, what do you hope your children will say/think about you? Are you resentful they don’t appreciate you more, do you feel guilty you have not done enough for or with them, do you wish you had more time with them? There was a running joke in our home, as I have three jobs there were times when Lucy would ask, “Dad can we watch a movie tonight?” and I would have to respond that I was out that evening. Kim would start to sing Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the cradle…” and we would all break into laughter.
There are parent/child relationships that can improve with more time and effort. There are also such relationships where the differences and/or baggage is so strong it is not likely to improve. In cases of the latter I always suggest to both parties that “respect” is an important attitude to foster. A son/daughter need not agree with her/his mother/father but offering some measure of respect is key. When things get tense having two difference homes to access can be a Godsend. Leaving with a respectful, “well I guess it’s time to be on my way, have a good evening” never hurts.
The most moving Words of Remembrance I have heard, one from a son-in-law and the other from a son, were delivered with thoughtfulness, honesty, humour and appreciation using stories to paint the picture. In both cases it helped that the men named were practically saints. But still, the tributes were less about trying to impress us with how successful the man was or how much they loved him and more about wanting the audience to know who this man was.
That’s really all I want from Lucy, honesty in letting people know who I was to her. She’s got some pretty good stories to work from.