I didn't mind an extra half-hour's worth of driving each way when the air was warm, the roads were dry and it was daylight in the mornings — but now that the roads are icy, slushy or snowy, and the visibility is limited because of snow or drizzle, my half-hour commute can turn into a solid hour or more.
With my hands clenched firmly on my steering wheel, following behind the dim glow of tractor-trailer taillights ahead of me at 35 mph, I have plenty of time alone to think. I wonder what would happen if I were to die in a horrific crash, or if I were to get into a mild crash and freeze to death wandering down the side of the highway. I wonder if my family would truly know how I feel about them.
Upon arrival at home after an intense swerving carnival ride one evening, I brushed the snow from my shoulders, kicked off my shoes and told my wife, Amy, that I'm going to get a life insurance policy. I also said that I'm going to write down how I feel about my children and. if I die, they can read it and know how proud I am of them.
That evening, while shoveling snow off my driveway, I thought, "Why should I wait until I'm dead to express how I feel about my family?" That's when I came up with the idea for this column. Not only would I write down my feelings about my daughters and reveal it to them, I'd share it with my whole community.
Natalie (nickname "Nan") is 28 and I refer to her as my oldest daughter: Natalie, you are smart, perky and sensitive. You can liven up any conversation and not be either pretentious or ditzy. I appreciate how you always strive for fun. You can eek fun out of any situation, and you seldom seem to take life or yourself too seriously. I admire how you never dabble in anything. When you decide to do something, you jump in wholeheartedly. I think you made a great choice of a husband and I am proud of the job you are doing as a mother. Of all of my children, I vote you the most likely to take care of me when I'm old. I love you more than I can say; and if the truth be told, Natalie, you are my favorite.
Hillary (no nickname) is 24, and I refer to her as my No. 2 daughter: Hillary, you are strong, determined and outspoken. I can always count on you to give me an honest, forthright opinion without worrying about my feelings. Sometimes I need that. Thanks. I admire your single-minded focus on your life's goal of becoming a physician's assistant. This has been a long program for you with an otherworldly amount of studying and sacrifice. You've watched your counterparts graduate from college, establish their careers and start families while you've continued to pursue your dream. I know how badly you want to start your career and family, so I applaud your ability to delay gratification and to push those things aside for the hope of a greater future. I approve of your life's choices and in the choice you've made in a boyfriend. Of all my children, I vote you the most likely to be a millionaire. I love you more than I can say; and if the truth be known, Hillary, you are my favorite.
Evien (nickname "Evbo") is 9, and I refer to her as my No. 3 daughter: Evien, you are passionate, creative and kind. I love to watch you with the animals at the petting zoo. You seem to have a special bond with the creatures of the Earth. I admire your writing ability, and the ability you have of developing a story and patiently seeing it through to completion. You can write stories, make up games and create movies on the computer just for fun. I love it when you get lost in an idea and can't stop talking about it until you are able to put it on paper. I am also impressed by your love of reading. You consume books as if they were food — something you cannot live without. I think you are a great student, and you are so much fun to play games with. Of all of my children, I vote you the most likely to be famous. I love you more than I can say; and if the truth be known, Evien, you are my favorite.
Maggie (nickname "Mags") is 7, and I refer to her as my youngest: Maggie, you are loving, spontaneous and fun. I can always count on you to greet me with a hug when I get home from work. There are no words to describe how special that makes me feel. I love it when you snuggle real close to me when we watch movies. There is a place deep in my heart set aside for you because we share a love of music. To hear you sing long passages from songs and to watch you dance without caring who sees fills me with joy. I admire how quickly you make friends and how much you enjoy people. You love me when I'm up, you love me when I'm down, you love me when I'm happy, and you love me when I'm crabby. Everyone should have a Maggie in their life. Of all my children, I vote you the most likely to never be lonely. I love you more than I can say; and if the truth be known, Maggie, you are my favorite.
That is my letter to my daughters in the fortunate event that I live. Certainly, each of my children have negative qualities, but I choose not to dwell on the things that they inherited from their mothers.
I love my children equally and uniquely, and I hope they know it. My goal is to make each of my daughters feel like they are my favorite.
— By Grant Berry, Tribune community columnist