My daughter was born in 1976, is married, and lives with her husband and two children in Maryland. My wife and I planned to visit them this spring, but the pandemic nixed our travel plans.
On Father’s Day, she sent me a Facebook message with a series of “Questions for Dads” that read as follows:
- Can you tell me about your best friend when you were a kid and one of your adventures?
- What is the oldest story you know about our ancestors?
- Can you describe a favorite memory of a family member? Do you have a favorite snack, song, television show, recipe, comedy?
- What is your first memory?
- Did you ever get in trouble as a kid? What happened?
- If there were a biography of you, how would you want to be described?
- What is the best advice you remember from your father?
- Is there anything you wish you had said to someone but didn’t have a chance?
- What do you wish you had spent less time worrying about?
- What is the best part of your day?
- What is the last thing you changed your mind about?
- What things helped you get through a difficult time in your life?
- What trip or place is most special to you and why?
- What would you like to re-experience again because you did not appreciate it the first time?
- Can you tell me something about yourself that I don’t know that you think would surprise me?
- What habits served you the most through life?
- What is the best mistake you made and why?
Typically, when asked questions like these, I respond with flippant answers. But, as I told my wife, I didn’t want to do that because these questions were a gift that–if I answered truthfully–would bring us closer together. So, I poured a glass of red wine and started typing.
I did the best I could. I suspect most of my answers were things she didn’t know. When I printed them out, they became four single-spaced pages that I mailed to her via the USPS this morning.
When I was in college, my father sent me a series of letters about his life during high school and college. It was the kind of stuff that didn’t come up in conversations around the dinner table. I was happy to get it because it shed new light on just who my father was. I hope my daughter will feel the same way.
Most of my life is a mystery to my daughter because it happened before she was born, and even before I met her mother. I don’t know where she found the questions, but it made my day to see them. Will my answers surprise her? Yes, I think they will.