My wife, Rhonda, went to a baby shower for our daughter and brought home something that has my head and heart leaping years into the future. At the party Rhonda’s sister had given out blank cards to be given as birthday cards to this yet-unborn baby boy. The idea being that you would write something to the boy or (man) not yet here. Not all the cards were filled by the shower guests, so I agreed to take a couple. I chose ages 15 and 20 because I believe I have something to tell him when’s he those ages, whether I am here or not.
To think that I may not even be here is a bit unsettling – but that’s true for tomorrow as well, I guess. So believing that there will be no such thing as privacy in the future, I share these letters with you now.
Happy 15th birthday! I hope you don’t mind that I still call you my pal. One day when your mother was still carrying you she asked what I would call you. I knew right away: Pal, because I hoped you and I would be close someday.
I wrote this before you were even born, which probably seems kind of crazy to you; it seems crazy to me. So what do I say to my fifteen-year old grandson who isn’t even born yet? I can’t be too specific or I may miss the mark completely; too general and my words are empty of meaning. You see my dilemma. Plus, when you are fifteen you think you know everything; at fifty-four you realize you never will.
I don’t have all the answers, no one but God does – and sometimes he doesn’t tell you right away. But here is what I regard and recommend: Read. Appreciate music. Be a good listener. The Ten Commandments were not just good ideas. Being kind to your neighbor and your enemy will go a long way in making both of them your friends. But, even with that, people will take advantage of you. That’s okay – that’s their sin, not yours.
Have fun, but don’t cross the line. Be strong in your faith, in your convictions, and in your purpose. But allow for some flexibility and spontaneity. Look for options and when possible, compromise and move a little towards the middle. Be true to your word and be on time so people can depend on you. Help others when the opportunity presents itself and always look for those opportunities.
Love your mother – she once was my little girl. If you hurt her you will answer to me. Always remember I love you and nothing can change that. If you need anything, just call.
Happy 20th birthday, same thing applies when you were fifteen – this letter was written before you were born, so I may miss something. You are a man now – maybe you don’t always act like it – but a certain amount of silliness is okay. I hope we are still pals, even though that may seem a bit childish – but the little boy in me still lives – may he live long in you as well.
Go back and read the letter I wrote to you for your fifteenth birthday. That stuff should still apply. I also wrote some essays that you may want to slog through if you ever want to figure out who I was/am.
I hope you still find time to read and listen to music. Find an artistic outlet. Try and do work that allows you to be yourself and someone you can be proud of. When you have to decide between money and time, always choose time because you can never get it back. You can always make more money; and it is true money does not buy happiness.
Find a woman who is your true companion and is kind to others. Everything else should follow. Someday if you have children you will learn what unconditional love is. Your mother and your uncle knew that I would do anything for them. I hope you felt the same.