Miss my little guy Talon and Diane so much sometimes. We all have to do things from time to time that we think, are what's needed to make a better life for our kids, our wives, or even other family members- time and time again we see this "better life" topic crop up in subject used as a reason, excuse or even some banner of pride and one universal shortcoming that is almost always overlooked until it's too late is that no matter what you feel you accomplish, it's going to be too much for some and too little for others.
We move some of the chess pieces around to pursue this idyllic masterpiece of a life we picture as ideal, and too often forget the things that really matter. Your kids will grow up one day, have their own perception and conclude self worth based in part on what you teach them. what you REALLY give them.
Were you there? No, not there in the form of provisioned collections. REALLY there? There will come a day when as parents, our bones will be long since made to dust and they will look at the measure of their life and weigh the things you gave them- "Dad/Mom, I look back on things now, if I could trade every possession you spent all those years away getting for me (job, travel, social life, what have you) for one more minute walking with you right now, to tell you I know why you did it and you DIDNT have to, I would." Don't leave their hearts empty in trade for things.
Were you greedy? Self-centered? Materialistic? Lie, cheat, steal or sacrifice for the moment? What did you place above yourself, above others?
Your child will NOT be the sum of your work, make no mistake they will be the sum of what you WERE. They will one day, as we all do, play the worth game and the cards you give them WILL be in the deck they lay out for themselves. That magical moment we all recognize that our lives are at least physically finite and none of the "things" we surround ourselves with will be going into the abyss with us. THAT is when the important things surface. TRUTH. HONOR. LOYALTY. LOVE.
If they spend their whole lives in a gilded cage, when the day comes that they have to step out of it what will they have that is infinite? What did you give them that transcends the physical? My friends, they will either curse you or revere you on the things they don't need to carry, the things that were part of you that make us all what we really are. And hearing just one more "I love you" or "I'm proud of you" is worth far more than any physical thing you could give them- your ability as a parent to SHOW them the difference between the things they can touch and the things they cannot WILL determine how easy it is be complete in happiness when it matters most.
My father was a simple man- hard working and dedicated to whatever job he took to a flaw. In the grand scheme of worldly possession, you could say he was poor. Not by his own choice I'm sure, he grew up in a time when they had little and life was harder than anyone post 1970 in birthdate could imagine. It was a time when people had it driven into their heads that "things" mattered. People then as now went to war over "things". Then, as now (even worse now) he did everything he could to provide for us, and being the only boy I can say every thing he came to me with was always accompanied by the desire for approval, even if I didn't see it then, I feel it now. His gifts weren't always physical, contrary, he had hard contained excitement because the things he could give me he was proud of- knowledge of the things he mastered throughout his life and felt were important to him. He of course did what every dad would do and did his best to "fill under the Christmas tree to brim", and sometimes there wasn't much when times were hard. Little did he know though, when it became most important, the best things he could give made more difference than any toy, clothing or piece of furniture could ever. Him telling me to be what I am instead of what I have was perhaps the greatest piece of advice I can think of.
It killed him much earlier than he deserved though. Looking back, I'd have thanked him for teaching me the important things, and let him know it every day. Those chances are gone now and I can only hope in the grand scheme of things somehow, he knows I'm thankful, and proud. There is a difference between someone giving what they can, and all they have.
I'm in a prison of my own making, and constantly torn by what I am, and what I want to be for my wife and sons. Their perception of me is all that matters and I will not seek to sacrifice the things I am for the temporary- I want to believe that when it matters most those things that I mentioned earlier- the Love, Truth, Honor, Loyalty, and more overshadow my lack of the worldly.
I'd give anything to ask my dad to tell me more, how he felt, why he did and why he didn't. Brief glimpse of what he really was were reflected in letters he wrote to my mom. I would have loved to BE with that man, not the breadwinner he killed himself to be when he didn't really have to and I feel at times, guilty of not being able to tell him that. No matter what I accomplish to give, my words, thoughts, and feelings will be whats carried outside that gilded cage and I fear time will be my enemy; it always has been for some. This is why I write.
Right now, I'm cold and hungry for their warmth, smiles and voice. I don't have much, yet I have everything and still, nothing. Love you with all my heart.