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A FATHER’S MESSAGE


by Jerry Forthun

March 7, 1995

 

On this day, the Seventh of March, Nineteen Ninety Five, having lived more than 20 thousand days I can say that I speak with some authority regarding the many things that I have seen, and heard, and read about, and felt, and smelled, and otherwise sensed during these many days;  and the sum total of these many experiences equals my life.  One may ask, “What is the reason for life?” or “What is my purpose for living?”  These are questions that each person must ultimately answer for himself.  I have asked these questions of myself many times, and I have never found the same answer twice—but I have found different truths at different times—like the three blind men trying to explain the nature of an elephant while touching different parts of its anatomy.

 

I am a father, and I love my children, and like so many fathers before me I would like to leave them something more than money, or material things, or memories.  I would like to leave them some of the little bits of knowledge and wisdom that I have encountered through the years, in hopes that they will benefit from my experiences:

 

v    From my father I learned that to relieve the pain of others is a noble endeavor which earns a spiritual reward;

 

v    From my mother I learned that selflessness and generosity are among the highest forms of love;

 

v    From Tom, Dick and Mary I learned that this world is not as frightful when one is surrounded by those who care;

 

v    From Miss Crowley, my 7th grade teacher, I learned that the true beauty of a person comes from within;

 

v    From Mrs. Palecek, my English teacher, I learned that hard work and perseverance will overcome many obstacles;

 

v    From my navy  years I learned that the pleasures of this world are many, varied, and virtually inexhaustible;

 

v    From Miss Moss, my literature professor, I learned of the ephemeral quality of life, and of the gift of awareness;

 

v    From John Steinbeck I learned that compassion for others makes one more human—and closer to God;

 

v    From the philosopher I learned that we can’t experience true joy in our lives unless we can contrast it with pain;

 

v    From my Peace Corps years I learned of the beauty of cultural diversity and of service to others;

 

v    From hundreds of prisoners I learned that forgiveness is necessary to free oneself from an inner prison;

 

v    From my fellow-members of the Charisma Book Club I learned that sharing of self with friends is a priceless gift;

 

v    From my children Michael and Elizabeth I learned that God’s gifts are truly limitless;

 

v    From my wife Sara I learned that love is unwavering, tolerant, and eternal;

 

v    From Jesus I learned countless things, but foremost that one approaches the kingdom of heaven by caring about others, and that heaven is “not here, nor there, but within;”

 

v    From my Eternal Father I learned everything that I have ever learned, including those things that I learned from listening to the voice within, that made my life more meaningful and beautiful, and that will make it easier for me to leave this world thankful for the life that I have been given.

 

And so, I LEAVE THESE MESSAGES THAT MY CHILDREN MAY HEAR WHAT I HAVE LEARNED, AND MAY PROFIT BY IT, AND THEREBY THAT THEY MAY TRULY EXPERIENCE THE BEAUTY OF LIFE, AND MAY, IN THE WORDS OF THE POET:

 

 “…Live, that

When thy summons comes to join

The innumerable caravan, which moves

To that mysterious realm, where each shall take

His chamber in the silent halls of death,

Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”