A Great List Every Child Should Have

Today is one I will spend as I have been, every Father’s Day since 1991. I will be encouraging my two children to add to their perpetual lists of how they should be taking full advantage of their dad.

By now they’ve got the hang of it and do pretty well:

  • An island away from him, my daughter interviewed my husband this morning on his version of the unusual story of how he learned to drive, for she realized that up to now she has only heard it from me, as he simply smiled and laughed about it with the rest of us during my telling. [See the short version as a footnote below.]
  • Fresh home from his Arizona college yesterday, my son has already booked his dad for a 4:30am beach trip Tuesday morning, to pick ‘opihi on the rocky part of the Kohala Gold Coast at the edges of Hualalai. [More about picking ‘opihi in the 2nd footnote below.]

They are off to a great start, but they know I’ll bug them to add more to the list as the day continues.

My own dad, who I absolutely and devotedly adored, suddenly and completely unexpectedly died in 1990 of a massive heart attack. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and he was two weeks away from his 61st birthday.

When my husband’s day comes to join my dad in heaven, I don’t want my kids to feel the loss and sense of profoundly deep regret I felt on that day. Instead, I want them to think about their lists, and how much they were able to cross off it in joy and appreciation for the bounty their dad has brought to their lives.

Ladies, if you have any children or grandchildren, today is the day to forget about what you wished for and didn’t get on Mother’s Day this year. Forget about any squabble you’ve had or may still be having with the fathers in your life and in your children’s lives. Today is the day you must be the biggest cheerleader those very, very important men have. Celebrate the day, and teach your children to be list-makers extraordinaire. In fact, you may want to start your own list.

To every father who may be reading these words, please don’t ever say, “No, not right now, maybe later” when your child has a request that will cause him or her to cross off something on their list. Understand what this day is all about, and enjoy it fully.

Happy Father’s Day.

Footnote 1:

About Ashley’s Interview”•The short version is that I taught Kerwin how to drive when he was 28 years old. Believe it or not, he had never gotten behind the wheel of a car until then. Living in Honolulu, a big city but without a metro system or any mass transit to speak of, this was a big deal.
I picked him up once; after that I had told him that if he wanted to date me a) he had to learn to drive, and b) he had to be driving a car he could finance. I wasn’t going to pick him up again unless it was for driving lessons. That was the way I saw it had to be” for starters. He ruined the transmission on my hot little standard-shift car, and ended up having to buy a car for each of us.
This past May, and a few more vehicles later, Kerwin and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary.

Footnote 2:

About Zach’s wish to pick ‘opihi with his dad”•The ‘opihi are tasty limpets very highly prized as a delicacy in Hawai‘i. Picking them is a challenge, for they thrive on the wave action relentlessly beating on their small, pyramid shaped shells as they cling to the rocks on the shoreline. The waves cause them to be better; to grow larger; to have more meat and gain the yellow coloring that every island fisherman knows is the mark of the tastier ones.
Therefore, the 4:30am hour was chosen by Zach when he consulted the tide calendar for Tuesday, which is his dad’s next day off; it will be the hour of low tide that day. It will be both the kindest time (the sun is not yet so hot) and the safest time. Picking is hard, smelly work, for the suction strength of the ‘opihi is such that the man who is a thousand times their size must employ a knife’s blade and the leverage of his back to pry them loose. He must balance on the rocks himself as the waves continue to pound in the ‘opihi’s favorite places, and hence pound on him.
Zach and Kerwin are strong swimmers, and many is the time they have taken turns plucking each other out of the ocean when they lose their balance. They never go alone. When they come back home they’ll be cut up from a few falls. They also will wear that look of having had some very important conversations passed between them. Ashley and I don’t ask about it however, for those talk-stories belong only to them; it is something we have learned to respect.

By the way, I talk about ‘opihi in Chapter 3 of Managing with Aloha: you can read The Lesson of the ‘Opihi on page 65. It is a lesson of persistence and perseverance, and about how obstacles can test us.


  1. says

    What a powerful message Rosa. Too often, we put things off until we have no chance to complete them, and then we wish we had the time back. Carpe diem, today, and EVERY day. Live a life worth loving, loving fully, and enjoy what comes your way. Say yes more than no, especially to the children, and you will smile more than frown.
    Thanks for the reminder Rosa. Not today is just not going to happen, not today anyway.

  2. Todd Plumer says

    I am new to your website and absolutely love it!
    Reading this Fathers Day post was very heart felt. I unfortunately lost my father to cancer when I was 16 (20 yrs ago) and still to this day I miss him and all the things I wanted to accomplish with him in my life list. So I have always told myself to be the best dad to my 3 children and always be there for them and allow myself to be part of their dailys lives and cross off those list!
    Todd Plumer

  3. says

    Aloha Phil and Todd, mahalo nui for your comments.
    Phil, you had posted such a wonderful Father’s Day message for your mom, truly MORE evidence of how you live your mantra make every day a great one, with full appreciation of all those things which make life so precious.
    Talking Story readers, click in if you haven’t read Phil’s post:
    I do hope you had a magnificent Fathers’ Day Todd; from the tone of your message I am quite sure there is an abundance of love shared between you and your children. I happen to believe that in creating experiences for them you are also writing a story of how what precious time you DID have with your own father influences all of you, and still makes a difference in all your lives each day.
    And Todd, a very warm welcome to Talking Story! Please continue to share your thoughts with us going forward as you have started to so generously here: I am fervently hoping this will be your first comment of many. If you have not yet discovered it, you can learn more about our Ho’ohana Community here:
    As Phil says, carpe diem everyone!
    Aloha Monday,