There are many things Randy wants to tell his children, but right now they’re too young to understand. Dylan is six, Logan three, and Chloe eighteen months. He wants them to know who he is, what he has believed, and the ways in which he’s come to love them, but he fears it will go over their heads. Randy and Jai have yet to tell the kids that Randy is dying because Randy still looks healthy. Randy says it pains him to think of his kids without a father, and he’s more focused on what they’re going to lose than what he is going through. Randy knows their memories of him might be fuzzy, so he’s trying to do things they’ll find unforgettable. Dylan and Randy go on a mini-vacation to swim with dolphins. He also plans on bringing Logan to Disney World, a place Randy knows “he’ll love as much as” Randy does. Randy decides to bring Dylan along, as Logan loves to be engaged in action with his big brother.
Because Randy knows his young children might have only fuzzy memories of him, he’s doing proactive things to try to cement experiences in their memories. Taking Dylan to swim with the dolphins is an example of Randy using his impending death as an opportunity to do something unforgettable with his son. This is something he might not have thought to do with such urgency had Randy not been diagnosed with cancer.
Every night, Randy asks Logan the best and worst parts of his day, and to both he always answers “Playing with Dylan.” Randy acknowledges that Chloe may have no memory of him at all, but he still wants her to grow up knowing that he was the first man ever to fall in love with her. Randy knows there will be much Jai will be able to tell his kids about their father when they’re older—his optimism, his overly analytical approach to life, his insistence that he knows best. Randy worries, though, that Jai might not tell them she married a guy who “deeply truly loved her,” and that she also won’t tell the kids about all the sacrifice Jai herself had to make in always dealing with other people’s needs before her own.
While Randy does admit that he’s sad that his kids will grow up without their father, he uses the obstacle of writing this sad, part of his book as an opportunity to impart to his readers, his kids, and Jai that he really, truly, positively, wholly loved his kids and his wife.
Lately, Randy has been interviewing people who lost their parents early in life. They’ve told Randy that they wanted to know how much their parents loved them, and “the more they knew, the more they could still feel that love.” They also wanted reasons to be proud of their passed-away parent, and they wanted to know, since they had so few memories of their parent, that their parent had great memories of them. To that end, Randy wants his kids to know that he’s chock full of memories of them: he remembers Dylan’s empathy, always caring for another kid if they got hurt, as well as his analytical nature. Dylan reminds Randy of himself, in that Dylan’s inquisitiveness goes beyond his years. Dylan is the “king of curiosity,” in that, wherever he is, he’s always “looking somewhere else and thinking, “Hey, there’s something over there!””
Randy uses the book to try to fill in for some of the things his kids will miss, like hearing Randy’s memories about them. Although it’s tinged with sadness, Randy’s recounting of Dylan’s empathy and inquisitiveness is an example of being positive and proactive until the end. Randy could easily have shut down and not found the energy to write this book, but, by writing it, he is able to leave memories for his children to absorb.
Logan “makes everything into an adventure.” From the moment he was born, it took two doctors, pulling with forceps, to get him out of the birth canal. Once Logan started moving, he never really stopped—in Randy’s mind, Logan is the ultimate Tigger, up for anything and befriending everyone. Randy predicts that Logan, despite being only three, will likely be the social chair of his college fraternity. Chloe, on the other hand, is all girl, in that she is careful and even dainty. Looking into her face after she was born was one of the most spiritual moments of Randy’s life. He loves watching all her efforts going into not getting hurt, slowly moseying down the staircase while her brothers barrel down headfirst.
Logan embodies Randy’s ideas about going through life with optimism and proactive action, and Chloe teaches Randy that kids can be prudent and careful. Logan, as the “ultimate Tigger,” will hopefully be able to carry on Randy’s belief that having a positive attitude will make the world react positively to you in turn.
Given his limited time, Randy is building separate lists of memories of each of the kids, and making videos so they can see him talking about what they’ve meant to him. Randy also sees the video of the last lecture—and this book—as pieces of himself that he can leave for his kids. Because Randy has been so vocal about dreams, many people have been asking him about the dreams he has for his children. And Randy has a direct answer for that—he wants them to find their “own path to fulfillment.”
Randy believes this book to be capable of passing lessons to his kids (and his readers) after his death. Randy doesn’t have specific dreams for his kids—he simply wants them to have specific dreams of their own, so that they’re passionate about whatever path they choose. Being positive and proactive is much easier when you’re passionate about whatever it is you’re doing.
Randy thinks that parents having specific dreams for their kids can be disruptive and make the kids unhappy because they might follow dreams that were never their own. Randy wants his kids to become what they want to become. Randy says he’s not even sure if he should’ve made that comment about Logan becoming social chair of a fraternity, as he doesn’t want Logan to think Randy expected or wanted him to join a fraternity or anything else. Randy wants his kids’ lives to be their own. He just wants to urge his kids to “find their way with enthusiasm and passion.” And he wants them to feel that he’s there with them, whatever path they choose.
Again, Randy wants his kids to dream whatever dream they want to, and to chase it passionately and enthusiastically with as much effort as they can. Randy also wants his kids to feel that he is there with them on their journeys, and he hopes that this book—and all the lessons and advice in it—as well as the video Randy has left for his kids, might be filled with enough feedback so that, though they didn’t know him for very long, Randy is able to remain in his kids’ heads.