I close out every life story interview with a chapter called Reflections, where we delve into matters such as spirituality and philosophy. The recent Father’s Day holiday got me thinking about some of the interviews I’ve conducted over the years, and some of the wisdom I've harvested from these fine fathers.
I reviewed some transcripts of my life story interviews and found enlightening and sobering conversations about fulfillment and fatherhood. Here are some snapshots.
Jack H., age 96
Q: As you sit here today at 96-years old, looking back on your life, do you have any regrets?
A: Oh, of course. The hours I worked, and my family suffered and survived it. I was “on call” three days a week.
Q: You could get pulled away at a moment’s notice?
A: Oh yeah, I’d get a call that I’d have to go get the body in the middle of the night or the middle of a meal. [Jack was an undertaker.]
Q: Would you advise your grandkids to be careful not to follow the perception of money for their career but do something that they enjoy doing?
A: Yeah. But I don’t know that I have the right to advise them.
Q: If there is a future heir of yours – grandkids, great-grandkids – reading this, and they’re not happy in their career and they’ve got a wife and kids, would you advise them to change course anyway?
A: Yeah, I think I would. I don’t know how difficult it might be.
Q: But do you think your happiness is more important?
Mike C., age 68
Q: Can you think of any mistakes you made in life or in business that you would like your kids and grandkids to avoid?
A: Well, we look at life and there are always things we do and regret in life. And yet, as a Christian, I recognize that these things are also learning and growing opportunities. You make mistakes and learn not to put your hand on a hot stove again, you know. And there's growth in those aspects. So, do I regret some of the regrettable situations? There's a kind of yes and no to that; you see the growth that has taking place.
Q: And mistakes are catalysts for growth, aren't they?
A: They are. As long as you learn from them and you don't become bitter about them and say, “Why did this happen to me?” You take responsibility for it. I suppose for my kids is learning to raise their own children. Be patient, kind, firm, and gentle as they raise their children. I didn't always exemplify that, and hopefully they can learn from that.
Fred H., age 91
Q: Looking back as a parent raising these children, is there anything you might do differently, with the power of retrospect - what you know now?
A: I would probably spend more time with them.
John W., age 96
Q: Looking back at your life, do you have any regrets?
A: One of the things I regret was that we always went to the office on Saturday morning. I didn’t get home until noon, one o’clock, which got in the way of family time. Kay remembers Sunday was always work day around the house. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but maybe that’s the way it was. I didn’t participate in many of the kids’ activities. I remember when John was playing tennis in Glendale, the girls in the summertime when they got into high school, had summer jobs at a hospital during the summer. I always regretted that we didn’t spend as much time going to the beach, going to the mountains, something like that. I always blamed it on not maybe not having the money to do it, but I think some of that could have been done on a low budget basis without any problem.
Terry W., age 74
Q: Do you feel fulfilled in your life?
A: I do. There’s a big place to live right here. I’ve got great kids and great grandkids that are all doing well. Beautiful wife and we love each other. Planning to do some more travel. I feel very fulfilled.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.