Three months ago my wife came to me with a 70th birthday gift idea for my dad. A friend of ours solicited email and written letter memories/greetings for her mom’s 70th birthday celebration, and it was a huge success. The goal was to get 70 submissions for 70 years. She suggested that concept for my dad as well, and my sister and I jumped all over it!
It has been an incredible journey, and a lot of hard work pulling everything together, but I would do it again in a second! The response was overwhelming! The last count of submissions was well in excess of 80! We were blown away. This was not surprising because of my dad’s vast network. But people lead busy lives, and don’t drop everything for just anyone. Many of the letters were between one and two pages long. A lot of time was put in to this by many people who dad has affected in very positive ways over the years.
Friends, family, colleagues, students, neighbors and babies (yes my six month old son Rowan even contributed) all took the time to write emails, mail letters, cards and even old pictures.
There are many take aways from reading the submissions, but I want to focus on the most important one that I identified over and over again.
He has mattered in so many ways to people for the little things that he did; he may not have even known the positive effect that he had when he was doing those things. People appreciated those things more than he could ever know, and wanted to say thanks again. His support for students in the classroom, or in the gym during phys ed class (and in competition) have inspired generations of great professionals, and more importantly great people. His love and support for family and friends was discussed in great lengths by many too.
I know for a fact that he did not lend an ear when people just needed somebody to talk to, or picked kids up for volleyball practice because it was too early for buses to run, or voiced an opinion for a son or daughter who may have needed a little guidance because he expected something in return. He just did all of those things to be there for them, and never thought twice because he just loves to help others.
And you can too! So often we undervalue what we can do for friends, family or colleagues, but those little things truly do matter. We tend to get so self-absorbed getting through the day, we tend to forget the positive effect that we can have on others.
A smile, a helping hand, or a bit of advice can mean the world to someone when they feel like they are all alone.
The best thing that dad gives us every day is laughter. There has been a magnet on my parents fridge forever that says “Laughter Is The Best Medicine”.
So take that for what it is worth. Enjoy every day and help out when possible!
My dad continues to do so, and that is why he is so loved by all those who know him!