A Beautiful Question To Ask Your Parents While They’re Still Around
One thing this reminded me of is a beautiful gesture Eli’s brother facilitated a year before Jeff passed away. He sent their dad an email asking him for a list of his favorite songs. Jeff responded with a huge list. Little did they know, this playlist would be become the soundtrack to some of their last days together.
I’ve always been in awe of the experience and connection this simple activity created for their family. If your parents are still around, I would highly encourage you to send a very simple email to your parents with one question:
“Can you send me a list of your all-time favorite songs?”
When they respond, put them on a playlist, and you’ll always be able to remember them through the music that scored their life.
After coming home from Burning Man this year, I sent my mom a one-line email with that question. She replied within 30 minutes, telling me that she was so excited to do it. Her response:
Absolutely I can send you a list. What fun.
1. James Taylor, “Secret of Life”
2. Colin Hay, “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin”
3. Brothers Cazimero, “Home in the Islands”
4. Brother Iz, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
5. Dave Brubeck, “Take Five”
6. Debussy, “Claire d’Lune”
7. Billy Joel, “And So it Goes”
8. Eva Cassidy, “Fields of Gold”
9. Kenny Rankin, “Oh So Peaceful Here”
10. The Beatles, “Blackbird”
11. Diana Krall, “s’Wonderful”
12. Chicago, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is”
13. Celine Dion and Josh Groban, “The Prayer”
14. Kenny Loggins, “Celebrate Me Home”
15. John Legend, “Ordinary People”
16. Cat Stevens, “Morning Has Broken”
17. Christopher Cross, “Sailing”
18. Spinners, “I’ll be Around”
19. Commodores, “Sail On”
20. Loggins and Messina, “Danny’s Song”
21. Amy Hanaiali’i Glliom, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”
22. King Harvest, “Dancing in the Moonlight”
23. Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
24. Tony Bennett, “If I Ruled the World”
25. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
26. America, “Ventura Highway”
27. Stevie Wonder, “Overjoyed”
28. KD Lang, “Hallelujah”
29. Lin Manuel Miranda, “This Is My Shot”
30. Green Day, “I Hope You Had the Time of Your Life”
Thanks for asking this Andrew.
This is like going down Memory Row.
Each of these songs has a story to it—a time and place in my life that has personal meaning.
The lyrics express what I think is important—or a time of my life I want to honor and remember—or are in alignment with my values and view of life and how I want to show up.
Or some, like Uptown Funk are just fun and get me up on my feet and moving.
Love you—what’s this for?
You never know how much time you have left with your parents. Do this exercise, and you can preserve a part of their spirit that will live on long after they are gone. One email, one sentence.
P.S. My mom definitely forgot to put Enya’s “Sail Away” on her list. That thing was on blast every morning for about four years when I was a kid.