A Legacy of Learning

I love being a father. It’s the most fun, life-affirming activity I’ve ever had. At the same time, it’s introduced a whole new set of fears and thoughts that I never had before. Not just “what if something happens to my daughter” (though there’s plenty of that), but also “what if something happens to me soon.” One part of that is financial; I earn quite a bit more than my wife, and even having a degree of life insurance, there’s a gap between our assets and what it would take to continue living something approximating our current family lifestyle for the duration of her childhood (and college is another story). I’m not willing to insure away that gap because of the present cost, the fact that my family could likely reduce expenses in a number of ways, and that I’m confident that my extended family would step in and support her physical needs.

What breaks my heart, though, is the notion that if I died suddenly (and soon) my daughter would not even remember me, that I would not have had the opportunity to teach her the things I’ve found helpful, important, or fun. She could see video or images of me, but I hate the thought that who she becomes and what she might learn hinges so much on the uncertain accident of my own survival, and that all of the patience, love, and effort poured into the first few years of her life wouldn’t even (likely) leave her with a single real/vivid memory of me.

So with that I make the following request: If I die unexpectedly, the most that you can do for me is not to donate to help support my daughter; though I’m sure that would help, what I ask of you is that you teach her whatever it is that I taught you. Whether that’s the lyrics to a sea shanty, the importance of communication in stage combat, how to do well in an interview, or other skills/experience/attributes I contributed to, teach her what you learned from me and then teach her something else too, something you’ve found useful, important, or fun. If everyone I’ve interacted with does that much, she’ll be remarkably wealthy in spirit and abilities, and hopefully have a real sense of who I was and what my life meant, even if I’m not there to see it.

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