Two weeks ago, my dad was healthy. Old (in his 80s, he won’t argue that point), but healthy. Within 24 hours, he was hospitalized and although he is home now, they never figured out what went wrong and he’s still not well. It’s the sort of thing that really makes you realize all the questions you never asked.
You don’t need to sit down and have a long heart-to-heart. If you do, you might freak him out. Take the time to ask questions and listen to the answers. You can even have your kids ask him some of the questions. Either way, videotaping the answers on a phone or tablet will preserve them for future generations, and so you can still see and hear him when he is gone. But one of these days, ask. Just…ask. Talk to him while he’s still there and healthy.
Being a Dad
- What did/do you like about being a dad? What don’t you like?
- How has being a dad changed since I was a kid?
- What do you wish you had done as a dad? What do you think you could have done better?
- What are you glad you did as a dad? What do you think you did right?
- What was the best family trip we ever took? What is the one family trip you wish we had taken, but didn’t?
- What is your favorite memory as a dad?
- What advice would you give me about being a dad?
- How did you find out you were going to become a dad? How did it make you feel? Was it a surprise or were you trying?
- What is your favorite gift I ever gave you? What is your favorite gift you ever gave me?
- What did you really think about the pets we had in our house?
- What were your parents like? What did they do right and wrong?
- How did you meet Mom? What made you think she was The One, or not? How did you propose? (If your parents are divorced, ask the same questions about his current wife, if he has one.)
- How did war impact you? WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, War on Terror, wars in other countries, pretty much everyone has been impacted in some way.
- What do you remember about your dad? Did he serve in the military? What do you know about it?
- What activities did you do as a kid? What chores?
- What was your first job and how old were you? How did you learn how to do that?
- What did your parents teach you about God and religion? What religious traditions (including simple ones like attending services and saying grace) did your family have?
- How have race relations changed in your life? What is accepted (or not accepted) now that wasn’t when you were younger? How do you feel about that?
- What did you like about where you grew up? What do you miss about it, if anything?
- What was your favorite treat as a child? Do you still like it?
- What do you consider your “home”?
- What did you study in high school? In college? In other schools?
- What were the best and worst days of your life?
- Other than that, what were the happiest and most painful things that ever happened to you?
- What was your first car? What was your favorite car you’ve owned? What is your dream car?
- Why did your parents give you your name?
- Any other stories you want to tell me?
- If you could live anywhere, all expenses paid, where would it be and who would be with you?
- Do you want to go for a walk/swim/white water rafting trip?
- What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
- What do you want your children and grandchildren to remember about you? What habits or traits do you hope they inherit or learn from you?
- Are there any special objects you want family to inherit from you, or get out of your house right now? What do you want them to know about why those are special to you?
- What would you like to do with me and your grandkids right now that you aren’t already doing?