On my 13th birthday, I received a letter from my dad that speaks... volumes. Reading it will tell you what kind of person my dad was and is, and to some extent, what kind of person I am. The ideas that were expressed were appropriate then and touch on such relevant and befitting concepts as peer pressure, the difficulties of puberty and the idea of examining ones own thoughts and motivations.
To Glenn on his 13th Birthday, 6/12/75
Happy Birthday!!!! Here I am on a plane to Chicago writing you a letter! Bet you never thought you would get a letter from me!
Hey, you're a teenager: a fantastic time of your life that brings you from boyhood to manhood. Glenn Dale, my dad, let me live my teenage years as a fun time that you enjoyed in adult life more, because when you looked back on these years, it made you younger in spirit, in thought and in understanding.
Glenn, this is a time you are going to be changing. Changing in physique, voice, mannerisms, thinking and many other ways. You will be changing in a world that is contantly changing as well. You will see great strides in all sciences, medicine and technology.
You will challenge (life's issues) and be challenged in these years. There will be pressures around you to go with the crowd, to be "in" with the group and all the other "together" things that make "civilized" man live in cities together instead of on farms by themselves.
Into the world you are now stepping, I ask of you only what my dad asked of me- Be your own man! Do not be afraid to make a decision but be man enough to accept the responsibility of your decision. Have an opinion, but have a reason for the way you think and why you have arrived at the conclusion that you support. Question everything, get the facts, find the answers. Keep an open mind. Be positive in your approach to life and the many encounters you have with others along the way.
Set high goals for yourself and live up to these goals. Respect life and live it fully. Respect others, but don't humble (or compromise) yourself for them.
When you have children, try to understand them better than I understand you, teach them better than I have taught you, and challenge them better than I have challenged you. But above all, love them as much as I love you.
Happy Birthday, teenager.
Even though I never married or had kids of my own, I should hope that I have done my best to understand, teach and challenge the students that have been placed in my care over the years. It is my hope that in the process of doing so, that they might see a small part of God's love through me.
Thank you dad, for understanding, teaching, challenging and loving me.