This is a letter I gave to my father while he was battling cancer while my wife was pregnant with our first son, my dads first grandchild. The year was 2012.
Today I am going to start writing documents like this one to give to my son (your grandson) some day when he is of age. I am going to save copies in the computer and print out hard copies for a book of some sort. I really like reading the stuff you and mom put in my baby book, so I want to pass those special type of moments on. I figured I would write you first and include it in our book.
There are a lot of things I want to share with you but sometimes have a hard time articulating them. I am hoping this helps and you have the strength to read this stuff at your leisure. I know what you are going through is painful, frustrating, and scary and it will get worse before it gets better. One of my goals is to help you maintain a strong spirit and ferociously powerful will! Your flesh is going through hell but you don’t have to sacrifice your spirit. You are not merely your body. The will is stronger. I love you, we all love you. So keep fighting with your head up.
I want to share a Father’s Prayer with you by General Douglas MacArthur. With our pregnancy and the growth of our son this prayer has been very important to me. I have read it many many times wishing it to come true for Amanda and I.
Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee….Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”
After reading this I like to think (and hope) that you can read this and feel a sense of accomplishment in how I turned out. I am humbled and grateful for whatever magic you and mom did for me and I strive to continue to grow and progress. Especially with my greatest task starting very soon. I feel prepared and instilled with the abilities that will help me raise an honorable son. I don’t think a thank you is enough, so I will pay homage by living a unsullied life as a humble role model knowing that what I am was forged by you and mom.
That is it for now. I have a full day at work tomorrow and hopefully by the end of it you will be home from the hospital.
When it became clear that he was not going to make it, I told my father to start writing. I told him to write to his grandson everything he wanted him to know and I promised I would share it with him when he is grown. A week after my son, Kaden, was born I got the call from my mom. The call where nothing has to be said but its a call you never forget. My father had passed and all my mom could do was apologize to me. She felt the need to apologize because he never finished writing to his grandson. My father had begun writing on his iPad and two paragraphs in he started to cough up blood. He was never able to write again. When I saw the iPad, there was blood on the screen. In those two paragraphs was information I never knew about him. It was incredible and I am grateful to have it.
Enjoying the birth of my first born son and losing my dad a week apart was a pivotal point in my life. What an incredible lesson in the delicate balance of life and death. It was this lesson that made me start writing and is a huge part of the inspiration for this website. Life is precious and its a privilege. If you are a parent or if your parents/grandparents are still alive, I highly encourage you (and them) to start writing for your loved ones. Tell them about your childhood, failures, experiences, how you fell in love, etc. It might be one of the most important things you do on a computer. You also never know what can happen and what you leave behind. Don’t wait till its too late.
The poem I shared with my dad, I have it framed on the wall in my house with a picture of my baby boy’s hand reaching out and holding onto mine. It is in these times, the times of battle and struggle that we see the best parts of human nature. The spirit of battle. That is what we named my son after.