Brandt Barber, a 57-year-old man from the suburbs of Atlanta, made a lot of netizens teary-eyed over his now-viral Instagram post about his three sons, reports Tanya Chen of American internet and media company Buzzfeed News. To some of his new fans, Brandt has become their new father figure. They’ve sent messages to him about “their strained or vacant relationships with their own fathers.”
Brandt shared photos he took over the years of himself and his sons in late August. In those photos, the family was seen at a local Dairy Queen shop in Forsyth County, Georgia. Brandt informed Buzzfeed News that “they developed a ritual over about seven years.” The ritual involved the whole family going to the same Dairy Queen branch, “sit in the same booth, order the same things, and oftentimes, see the wait staff.”
Brandt became sentimental when his sons left for college. Hence, he decided to post the photos on his Instagram account. At that time, Brandt’s account only had 23 followers and three other photos. According to Brandt, “It was just someplace I could put a picture of a memory that meant something to me.” The father’s photo series first featured of all his children, including Bryce and Luke, his twin 19-year-old sons, sitting together at the same spot in Dairy Queen.
|Brandt Barber and his sons / Photo by: Brooks Barber via Buzzfeed News|
Brandt’s next photo did not include Brooks because he studied at the University of Georgia “a few years ago.” Brandt wrote on his Instagram page, “And then there were 3.” He acknowledged continuing the tradition, but the numbers were dwindling. Recently, the father’s younger sons left to pursue their higher education, prompting him to post a photo of just himself, which he captioned, “And then there was 1.”
He added that the tradition was not about ordering Blizzards but about “talking” and bonding with the whole family. Brandt explained that over the years, the most valuable part of the tradition was spending time with his kids. He shared the post with his close friends and followers before his son Brooks saw it, and he was overwhelmed with emotion. He decided to share screenshots of the post on his Twitter account, and it was eventually retweeted over 165,000 times as of this writing. One person commented that the post made them cry “early in the morning.” Other users joked about Brooks dropping out of college to continue the ritual. Brandt currently has 2,000 followers on Instagram when before he just had 23. He received private messages such as “My dad wasn’t very nice” or “I didn’t have a dad.” Brandt tries to respond to as many messages as he can to be “encouraging.”
Brandt assured netizens who have reached out to him with their “dad issues” that they still have the chance to change how it is, even motivating them to grow “to be the parents they were deprived of. “Don’t let your circumstances define you. You find your own happiness,” he added.
|Mr. Barber's Instagram post / Photo by: Instagram via Buzzfeed News|