The words she said absolutely melted my heart. It was all I could do to hold back my tears.
“Dad, when I grow up I want to marry a man just like you.”
Hearing my beautiful 12 year old daughter say those words to me filled my heart with joy and gratitude. It meant that I was doing something right.
It meant that my efforts to be the best possible example I can for my children was paying off. It provided validity to my journey as a father.
The Only Gift That Ever Made Me Cry
That journey started several years before my first child was born. When I turned 30 years old, my stepmother, Donna, gave me the most impactful gift that I had ever received.
She gave me a beautiful leather bound scrapbook that documented the first 30 years of my life. It included photos, mementos, and stories written in the margins.
It included recollections of the camping trips we used to take, the jaunts to the beach, and the jokes we would tell on the seemingly countless road trips we would take. And it included photos and stories of family members that are no longer among the living.
It was (and still is) the most beautiful and heartfelt gift that I had ever been given.
Donna passed away in 2009 after losing a virtuous battle with cancer. That gift serves as a living testimony of her love, kindness, humor, and generosity.
Advice for My Attorney
When my daughter was just 1-year old (and my first son was still in the womb) I went to visit my attorney about a business matter. While I was there he told me about what he did for his family each year.
He had two young sons at the time, and his family shot lots of video. In December of each year he would splice together one minute of video per month for each kid, put it on a DVD, upload music for the video, and create a 12-minute “This is your life in 200X” video.
That was an absolutely brilliant idea! However, I didn’t own a video camera (this was long before the iPhone days), and I certainly didn’t know how to use video editing software.
But the brilliant idea he shared with me got me thinking about what I could do for my own children.
A Simple Commitment
I figured one thing I could do for my kids would be to write to them and tell them about their life. I made a simple commitment to write to each child a minimum of one time per month.
This seemed like a very manageable commitment that I could keep and be diligent about. I started this process by simply writing the entries in a Word document.
It was fortuitous that I started each entry with the date, my child’s age, and my age at the time of the entry. I did this with the intent that my kids could later read the entries with context of our ages and where we were at the different stages of life.
This process started in 2003 and has continued now for over 15 years. I have been true to my monthly commitment and have averaged around 18 entries per year for each child.
A Movement Started
Over the years I have shared my journey with hundreds of parents.
More and more friends started journaling to their own kids and encouraging me to build a platform to make it easy for parents (and grandparents) to be able to save messages, photos, videos, and more for their family members.
I shared the idea with Jeff during the event. He loved the idea and basically told me to get off my ass and make it happen.
Our Legacy to the World
So, I went to work and spent all of 2018 researching, designing and creating the Legacy of Love platform.
In December 2018 we went into beta test of the program. We released the web-based version of the program in February 2019 and will have the iOS and Android apps coming soon.
What started as a simple and very private passion project has now become a platform that will soon be helping millions of families. This is our gift to the world.
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the WHY for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any HOW. — Viktor Frankl
PS: Want to take action now? Need a helping hand getting your own journal started for your kids? Or maybe you just want an easy way to capture, store, manage and continue this amazing process for your family? Check out the Legacy of Love App, get a free account, and you will be on your way to leaving your legacy.