Spending quality time with others is a form of love and making memories is a wonderful gift. My dad was a very busy person when I was growing up. He was always on the go doing this and doing that, and he didn’t take much time to just hang out with my siblings and me during the school year. Like other fathers back then, my dad was an excellent provider for our family who focused on his job. He was also a well respected leader and volunteer for many organizations in our community. I appreciate all that he did for so many people, but as a kid I still wished that he had spent a little more time with us doing fun activities.
As I was growing up, our family headed out west nearly every summer on long road trips. To my dad, this was him spending time with us. However, his focus was on being in the right place at the right time to take pictures and it wasn't his thing to take time out to have fun at a beach or poolside at a resort. Our days were consumed by long drives and a super busy itinerary that had to be met. Yes, I have wonderful memories from these trips and they are why I love travel and photography, but it wasn’t until the last ten years of my dad’s life that I really got to know him as a great friend.
After my mom’s passing many years ago, my dad continued to travel the world on his own. In 2007 he became terribly sick and ended up in the hospital for several weeks. That year he was scheduled to go to Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, but his illness left him feeling less confident about his ability to travel solo overseas so he invited me to come along and help him. To tell you the truth I was slightly hesitant at first, but I cleared my schedule and went with him. Over the years we traveled to ten countries on four continents sharing amazing experiences, inside jokes and fun memories together. We gave each other the gift of our time, and we became great travel buddies as a result. It’s these warm memories that made his passing tenable. I really knew my dad and he knew me. More importantly I know that he loved me. He gave me memories that will last the rest of my life and that is a wonderful gift. He also showed me that you are never too old to change and to form closer bonds with your kids and your grandchildren.
Because I wished that my dad had been more present in my life when I was growing up, I made a conscious decision to spend lots of quality time with my children while they were growing up. I also learned to enjoy doing the things that they love doing such as building things out of Legos, having Nerf gun fights in our house, hiking, traveling, playing video games, kicking around a soccer ball, playing lacrosse or just hanging out. I attended their sports events and helped them practice on their own time. It was very important to me that they knew that I cared about them and that they mattered. Today when they reflect back upon their childhoods, rarely do they talk about the stuff that we bought them. Instead they bring up the fond memories that we made doing fun things together.
Looking back on my life I appreciate the great memories that I had with my parents, my children and with friends. In these busy times that we live in today, it’s easy to let time slip by without spending quality time with other people. Too often we allow being tired to be a valid excuse, and checking in on Facebook and Instagram to be a substitute for face to face connections.
With this awareness, I’ve been making a conscious effort to go adventuring with my daughter as much as possible lately, and to accept invitations to get together with friends when they invite me to go places. There are times when I don’t feel like going out, but I remind myself how much fun I have when I do activities with others and how I feel energized afterwards.
Over the years I've come to appreciate that connecting with others is good for our happiness and our well being. Just by hanging out with friends and loved ones, we create space for them to share the intimate details of their lives. Spending time with another person also shows that we care about them. Furthermore, creating memories with others strengthens our ties.
In the blink of an eye our children grow up, our parents age and friends move off to distant places. If you take just one thing away from this post, remember this; life is short, time is love and memories are a wonderful gift that stay with us forever.
Wishing you a beautiful day and warm memories,
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