To my son Roger on his 21st Birthday
Dear son. I hardly know what or how to start a letter of the kind I want
this to be. Probably first and most important is my love for you. Men and
boys, men and men do not express their feelings for each other as to love near
enough. Fathers just take it for granted that their sons know they love them
but have trouble in expressing this to them.
Secondly is how proud I am of you as a man. You have fulfilled all of the
hopes and expectations a father could have for a son. We have talked of these
things some what in the process of our many enjoyable golf games together and
I have tried to tell you during these times the many things I have learned in
my short life time. Things that might be of value to you as you developed. You
have proven to be the type of boy, and now man, that I am proud to have as a
son. Manly, yet gentle - studious and intelligent and yet able to turn a joke
or quip. - understanding of the weaknesses of others but strong in your mind
and body - thoughtful of the aged and with respect for their knowledge and
infirmities, yet in yourself intelligent, more and far deeper than they. I
could continue for pages trying to tell you how and what I feel you are but I
think you know how I feel and your Mother feels about you.
You will never know unless you have a son of your own like you, how much it
meant to me when I was in the Hospital this last time in Paola, your care of
me and the little thoughtful things you did. I loved you the more for it.
As to the future, I do not know of anything I could say to you more than I
have previously. I tried to pass on to you the ideals one should strive for.
It is sure I have not been perfect, have made many mistakes and have not
always been perfectly honest. As a boy I had to learn just the same as you
did. However, as an adult I have tried to set you an example of honesty and
good living. Your Mother and I are very religious people even though you kids
never really felt this possibly. What your belief as far as religion is
concerned is within you. It will probably change and reform and be remolded
many times in your life. One thing is essential which you already know. The
golden rule of always try to do unto others as you would have them do unto
you. Have your belief whatever it may be and then live and be true to your
religion. Above all donít be a hypocrite by professing one and living
another, as so many men do today.
Remember the little sayings I have tried to pass on to you from my father
and others. "Keep on keeping on." Also many times I have repeated
this to myself whether it was when trying to untangle a snarled kite string as
a boy or trying to solve some problem as a man. My Father taught me that you
did not have an education until you know something about everything. Until you
had the knowledge to talk to a banker, lawyer, welder or shrimper, regardless
of the occupation. To talk intelligently to them about their subject. Know
medicine, your specialty, but donít lose yourself so completely in this one
thing to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Take time to see the trees,
birds, grass, and sky - to see and appreciate the wonders of nature around you
in addition to the wonders of the human body.
Marriage is a subject I have never had too much time to talk to you about.
Now I donít know if I shall have time to so will cover some of it now.
Probably most important is to remember there are two sides to everything. No
marriage is smooth at all times. You will feel sometimes that you are doing
all the giving and your wife is doing all the taking but at times like this if
you will remember to give more, try to understand the other side also, you
will come through most troubles OK. Marriage, especially in the first 6-8
years is no bed of roses for either partner but from the start try to get
small misunderstandings out in the open and talk about them and then they go
away. One last must: never go to sleep angry. Talk it out, kiss and make up
before going to sleep. Books have been and will be written on the subject,
none of which could or would fit your specific problem which might arise, but
as long as you have mutual respect, understanding and like each other this
will build during the years into a love such as you mother and I enjoy. It is
not easy, sometimes seems impossible but if you both work at it, the rewards
are great and life is worth the effort of existence.
So on the day of your 21st birthday I can only say I, as well as
your Mother, have given you our inheritance of good hardy stock, good
reputation, family background both on the Sinclair and Knapp line of
inheritance of men who did great things and made their mark on this world,
even if sometimes only slight. We have brought you to this day in a condition
of mind, body and soul as best we could and we are proud of the results of our
efforts and your efforts to arrive at this point in your life. We are glad we
God bless and keep you until I may hold you in my arms again and as I
started out to say - Happy 21st Birthday son.