Ken Wimberly sat beside his daughter, Grace, and presented her with a gift for her Grade 12 graduation.
The father handed his oldest daughter an iPad, but what was on it was the true gift.
“I had the great honour of gifting her with 18 years worth of stories from her life,” said Wimberly.
“When she left for college she took the iPad full of those memories.”
It was an emotional moment. Wimberly read his daughter a letter, expressing what she meant to him and the two scrolled through all her milestones together.
“It was bringing back memories that she hadn’t thought about in so many years,” said Wimberly, “and me too.”
The pictures, videos and brief moments in time were all captured and stored on an app Wimberly created in 2019, called Legacy Journal.
The Legacy Journal journey started years earlier when Grace was a little girl. Wimberly would write journal entries in a Word document, but keeping all of the special moments organized was a struggle.
Like many other parents who use their phone to store countless pictures, Wimberly worried those memories could easily get lost on a phone — and lost over time.
“They don’t have to be monumental big things,” Wimberly said. “Sometimes the funny little things they’ll say or the experience that we connected with over a daddy-daughter dinner we went on. Sharing those moments in invaluable for the future.”
Both Wimberly and his daughter have a copy of the digital journal; Wimberly continues to add to it while Grace is away at college. He is now putting together Legacy Journals for his other two children.
Ethan Garr tried journaling and setting aside pictures, but he found it time consuming.
“I just could never get something where I could be consistent,” said Garr. “Yeah, journaling is really hard!”
Garr started using the app to document, share and connect with his 13-year-old daughter, Avery.
“I don’t want to forget these things,” said Garr.
“Having a daughter is the best thing in my life. If I knew I could have another daughter I would, but I could get stuck with a son,” joked Garr. “But the moments together are so great!”
No matter how many times you think you’re going to remember something, added Garr, they slip by and you lose that connection over time.
The father said a simple caption on a picture is worth a thousand words. He called it the “words-optional journal” — and as he stores and builds his vault of memories, he has been showing it to Avery.
“I like sharing it with my daughter and letting her see what I’m doing, what moments were important for me and why.”
Building that connection with his only child is paramount, especially as Avery navigates her teen years and is forced to deal with social media expectations and negative outside influences.
Garr said all the stuff he can’t control “keeps you up at night as a parent.
“But there is so much good stuff and the worst part would be letting that stuff slip by.”
That dad-daughter relationship is one Garr said has been strengthened because of the app. He wants to make sure Avery sees what he sees.
“My daughter, I find to be one of the just most kind souls I know.
“I just want her to always lean back on that and think about how far that has taken her in life.”
It’s those kind of bonds that prompted Wimberly and the Legacy Journal app to seek out advice to daughters from dads around the world.
A short video called The Letter spilled out words of wisdom from fathers — their message universal.
The video showed a young woman boarding a bus and reading a letter from her dad.
The collective voice tells the young women to follow their dreams, stand up for what they believe in and to learn how to change a tire.
“I feel like it’s so important our daughters hear this today,” said Wimberly. “There’s so much negativity out there.
“These words from fathers are words of encouragement, words of affirmation, words of love. It’s OK to fail and it’s OK to go explore yourself and figure out where you’re going in this world.”
The parting words Wimberly shared with Grace that day he gave her 18-plus years of memories:
“The world is such a better place because of you. I love you with all my heart.”
Garr added by showing Avery pictures and short stories of their time together, he hoped it will give her the confidence to chart her own path in life.
“I’m lucky to be a dad to Avery.”