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Opinion Pieces
July 24, 2005
Do The 'Write Thing' For Your Kids-Right Now!


By- Joe Klock, Sr.

My father died in 1945 at age 49, when I was a 19-year-old Marine on the Island of Guam.

Although those facts are of no importance to you, what follows may be - make that "SHOULD be."

When I returned home, all that remained of him were a few personal effects, some photographs and snippets of memory.

Although he wrote to me frequently while I was away, his letters did not survive, and those memories have suffered the same fading effect as the photos.

As a result, my adult life (which has extended 30 years beyond his) was bereft of the personal interaction that could have meant so much to me as I muddled through courtship, marriage, parenting and a lengthy business career.

Relatives and friends filled in some of the gaps, but over these past three decades, there have been countless times when I wondered what he would have advised, how he would have opined and how he had dealt with situations like those I was encountering. What would he have thought about the million thoughts I never got to share with him?

He was gone before I knew more than brief anecdotes about his boyhood and growth to maturity - and he left no "paper trail" for me to pursue.

Well, almost no paper trail, anyway. When I visited his office, post mortem, I stumbled on a 3-ring binder, filled to capacity with carefully typed jokes, all of which would today rate either a "PG-13" or "R."

I had never known Dad to be a raconteur - and certainly not a somewhat naughty one - but there it was, an insight into what might have been a great relationship had he lived, and what would have been a partial substitute for the bonding that was not to be.

Alas, when his "stuff" was delivered to our home, the subject volume had been spirited away, I suspect by the prissy "maiden lady" who served as his secretary.

Because of that and my youth when I left home (I had enlisted at 17, mortally - and foolishly -fearful that World War II would end before I got a piece of it), a grown-up glimpse of Dad was denied me.

Where are we going with this? How does it relate to you?

Your children - either those you already have or those who might still be in your future - have a right to know more about you than what they'll be able to remember, what they can review in pictures and videos and what they can garner anecdotally after you've kicked the bucket.

Trust me on this: Even those among them who might now disavow any interest in such trivia will some day hunger for details either lost or headed for the bone yard of forgetfulness.

There's also, perhaps more importantly to you, the matter of what you'd like to say to them when the saying is no longer possible - the advice they can no longer seek and/or you can no longer dispense.

What to do? One of two things - either the "write" way, which is my medium of choice, or the route selected by Firstwife.

Living long after me will be the millions of words I've set down in columns like these, and the articles, books, seminars, tapes and videos, in which I've memorialized my life, my philosophies and the lessons I've learned along the way.

They are unalterably there and available, if and when our 31 (so far) direct descendants wish to review them - this being as close to immortality as anyone can hope to achieve.

Firstwife has elected to be interviewed informally on videotape by daughter Carol (Opus7), using a prepared (published) guide, talky-time being a more comfortable outlet for her thoughts.

And just in case you think this is a trivial pursuit, be aware that, working from that detailed format, they have more than twelve hours "in the can" and have covered only 25% of her life!

Unless you're content to go the way of lost earrings and cufflinks, and unless you (incorrectly) assume that your kids, grandkids and surviving friends couldn't care less about who you are and were, the time is NOW to do the "write" thing by preserving your life story in your own words, either jotted into notebooks or chatted into an audio-visual device.

And that "NOW," in case you've forgotten, is the last shot you're absolutely sure of getting to do it!

NOTE TO READERS: Joe’s Opinion Column is published in 178 newspapers nationwide.  If you would like to receive Joe’s Opinion Column directly, you may join Joe’s “Kith & Kin” list by sending your name and e-mail address to JoeKlock@aol.com, with "SEND OPINION COLUMNS" in the subject line.

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