Fatherly advice from several great Americans – SCN Encourager 7/16/2013
I feel the most alive when I’m in panic-mode.
As true as this may be, I would never write this in a letter to my children.
I’d try to think up something much better, as true as it may not be.
A book entitled “Posterity” by Dorie McCullough Lawson caused me to think about this.
It’s no surprise that Dorie didn’t have to sweet-talk noted historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough into writing the forward for her book. She’s his daughter.
I can’t say if writing a forward for a daughter’s book is a difficult assignment. But I’d welcome the opportunity, though.
My own resume of fatherly skills is largely made up of changing flat tires in the driveway or moving heavy plastic crates of books and clothes up several flights of narrow stairways into college dorm rooms and tiny apartments on the hottest, most humid day of any given year.
In “Posterity,” Dorie McCullough Lawson reveals some of the letters that famous great Americans wrote to their children.
Most are amazing. All demonstrate the value of writing letters to your kids – even in 2013.
Consider this example that Albert Einstein wrote to his 11 year-old son while he (the senior Einstein) was in Zurich.
” I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .” Papa.
From just this – which highlights Einstein’s observation about when “you learn the most…” – it’s clear I have a long ways to go in building my legacy of reasonably intelligent letters to my kids.
But try to understand, most of the letters I received from my daughters were not about finding the inner joy in playing the piano. Their notes to me usually started this way: Hi Dad. Here’s the bill from the piano teacher…
Luckily, like an over-night reformed Scrooge with pen and paper in hand, I still have the time to get going and write down some thoughts and family memories and mail them out to my now grown-up daughters.
It’s not like I don’t know their addresses.
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