I have been given a very special, unexpected pre-Christmas Day gift – actually 2. They came out of the blue and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how they seemed to just appear out of nowhere.
I don’t want to sound wo-wo – like some kind of mystical nutcase or that I’m just telling a story to get attention. I’m an author after all, and that would be an easy conclusion. But I wouldn’t play with something like this.
Do you believe in coincidence? You know, things happen that seem to be related to something else, but don’t really have any meaning in and of themselves? They just happen. They’re just coincidence?
I guess I should tell you what happened and let you draw your own conclusions. At the risk of sounding like a nutcase, this is what happened.
I got 2 letters from my Dad – both written in the 1960’s. One in 1965 and the other in 1967 – the last full year of his life.
No, they weren’t lost in the mail and delivered the usual way. I was cleaning my office one day and they appeared on my desk the next. No, Carmen didn’t put them there. She was as surprised as I was when I found them. See what I mean? Sounds like something a new ager would write – yet, it is… what it is.
The first letter was written in 1965.
I was a freshman in college, and had decided to withdraw from a course I thought I didn’t stand a chance of passing. It seemed that no matter what I did, I could not get a decent grade – not even a C. This was the first and only time throughout my education I had a problem with this subject. I had never received anything but A’s and B’s, so I was particularly shocked when suddenly, in the first year of college, I was faced with a teacher who not only felt I didn’t have a proper grasp of the English language, I was pursuing an education and career that was beyond my abilities. According to her, my parents were wasting their money, and I should take up a trade.
She felt so strongly, she went out of her way to write a letter that was attached to my grades for the first semester. Needless to say Christmas 1964 was not as wonderful as I had hoped.
I looked forward to getting a different professor the second semester, but the first day of class she and I looked at each other over a sea of other students, and the cycle of failure continued. After the first 2 weeks of class, I met with her and she agreed I should withdraw from the course, but insisted I should be graded … with an F. The registrar agreed I should get out of the course asap. He allowed me to withdraw from the class, but over her objections, without a grade. It was a clear cut withdrawal.
Although he encouraged me to do my best, my Dad thought withdrawing from the course was a mistake. He felt I should tough it out and see it to the end – face the challenge, not give up and defeat it. At the very least accept that my failure was mine and not the teacher’s. He didn’t understand how my withdrawing wouldn’t affect my academic standing. But he ended his letter by telling me he relied upon my knowing what I was doing, and that I’d do the right thing.
I saw it as a tactical retreat. I saved some money by withdrawing, and had more time to devote to my other courses.
In the end I took an English class in summer school and aced it. I not only became a successful teacher, I’m an author with 3 eBook novellas and one physical 90,000 + word work of fiction under my belt.
The important thing here is that my Dad loved me and had enough respect for me to encourage me to do what I thought was right, and move forward.
Back to present day. I’ve been discouraged by the lack of sales of Jesus and Me.
If I hadn’t taught that religion class, or asked that question about my students’ relationship with Jesus, I would not have been inspired to write Jesus and Me. I would have enjoyed my retirement as I had expected. I would have traveled to Europe, the Middle East – see the pyramids – go to India, China and Japan, Australia and the South Seas. I gave all of that up to write and publish a book.
It seemed like it was time to pack it in, and see the world like I’ve wanted most of my life.
Then I got Dad’s letter. I know it might seem like a bit of a stretch, but to me it’s the same issue… almost. It’s the same subject – English and writing. But am I giving up or making a “tactical retreat?” 50+ years ago I had a plan and it worked out to my benefit. This time there’s no real plan other than maybe enjoying whatever travel is still available in our now turbulent world.
I’ll tell you about the second letter later today or tomorrow.