What was strongest in my own life was my spiritual connection. Though I grew up Catholic, even preparing for the priesthood for five years after high school, my spirituality did not really come home to me until an angel began to speak with me, and became a constant companion in my early forties.
I would talk about these things with my children. Once one daughter was working on a project for a physics class, to make a strong structure by gluing toothpicks together. The teacher would then pile up weights until each structure collapsed to see which structure was the strongest.
We talked about different structures. Then one of the kids said, “Why don’t you ask the angel?” So I did. I asked the angel, and got some principles and a design. We had great fun putting it together. The design wasn’t the strongest in the class, but was better than average, and better than we would have done without the added input.
I loved being with my children. I would look at them, see what they were feeling, and connect with them, like seeing how afraid they were and what support they needed at the top of a long slide. I would try to challenge them, find the fun, surprise them, and try new things on walks, on bike rides, or in books at libraries. Sometimes we would make up stories together around the fireplace. When they were older, we would laugh and run and play tag together as it was getting dark in hilly parks.
Once I got a new calculator that would work with scientific notation. We talked about measuring the universe, and how this little calculator could compute unimaginable distance in light years across the seemingly infinite expanse. This became a memory that we would vividly recall thirty years later.
It wasn’t my Catholic devotion, or my talking to angels and God, that made the impact upon my children. After my children were grown, one year for a Father’s Day present my adopted Korean daughter gave me a framed picture of her at about age 4 with her legs around my waist, us holding hands with arms outstretched, twirling and laughing, looking in each others’ faces. Somehow that picture captured our loving, fun, mutually approving, precious relationship.
And as I see another daughter with her two children, what is awesome to me is not their spiritual practices similar to mine, but how she loves to be with her children, enjoying them at every age, with fun and endless patience. I am proud of her, and her family, and myself as a father.
My precious memories of my children are of our personal, fun, loving interactions. And we continue to this day, making more of these memories whenever we are together.