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Friday, April 15, 2011

A Legacy in Progress

by Ken Craig (bio)

I recently thumbed through a book titled Living a Life That Matters, by a Jewish rabbi named Harold Kushner.  And when I say I “thumbed through it,” I mean I “read the cover” and thought to myself, “What a catchy title!” I was going to start reading the book, I really was; but I am still only three DVDs into the second season of Chuck, and my friend is going to want his DVDs back pretty quick. Those episodes aren’t going to watch themselves, you know!

Living a life that matters. Hmm. Well, my wife claims my life matters to her. And, I’ll be honest, even without some daily barometer reading for how I’m doin’ at this little game called Life, mattering to my wife is kind of my main mission. Second only to mattering to my kids.

My seven children run from age 13 years old to several days overdue and showing no signs of arriving on the scene in the immediate future. They are delightful and adorable souls. They have only one distinct flaw, and this is it: They are far, far too observant of their dad’s behavior.

You have to wonder what kind of legacy you are leaving for your children when they make astute observations like, “I can’t wait to be a dad – you get to stay up every night eating ice cream and watching TV!” Apparently I have painted quite a picture of fatherhood for my three sons. “Yep, that’s all there is to it, my boys! You put in your time as a youth spending grueling hours making forts out of the couch and collecting farts in a mason jar; and then in a few short years, you’ll be living the high life with Haagen-Dazs and Seinfeld reruns. Life just gets simpler and simpler, I tell you.”

What kind of legacy would I like to leave my children? Oh, I suppose I’d like them to say …

My dad could solve any problem.
He never said a bad word about anyone.
He was the wisest person I ever knew.
I never saw my dad lose his cool. He was the most patient man in the entire world.
My dad was well read.
He had great self-discipline.
He would take all of us with him as he traveled the world.
My mom always commented on how great he looked in a muscle-shirt.

However, my flaws and selfish indulgences are incessantly on parade at my house. It’s difficult to hide them when there are seven pairs of eyes watching. Somebody is always seeing something. So if you were to ask my children this afternoon what kind of legacy their dad was leaving for them, and how they would remember him…it might realistically sound more like this:

My dad was do-it-yourself-home-repair-challenged, and he used hyphens way too often.
He knew a little too much about a lot of 80s pop-culture.
He couldn’t tell you the name of a single professional player of any sport.
He was his most impatient when we were whining, which he always said was an expression of ingratitude.
My dad valued friendship. Especially mine.
He loved telling stories.
He could not dance or sing, but he loved dancing and singing with me.
I never saw my dad “sitting on porcelain,” if you catch my meaning.
I knew how to make more meals than my dad.
My dad was honest.
I felt emotionally and physically safe with him.
He dedicated his life to being a disciple of Jesus Christ and worked to keep the covenants he made.
More than anything else, my dad loved my mom.

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