Sunday, February 17, 2008

Timeless Wisdom

My dad had some idiosyncracies when I was growing up. One was that he expected dinner to be ready when he was ready, and when he sat down, he expected to see everything just-so, including a water glass with a certain number of ice cubes in it and the salt and pepper shakers right within his reach. If it was dinner time, the news was on the TV, and we all needed to be quiet so he could hear every word. If it was lunch, the meal was followed by Dad stretching out on the couch to close his eyes and take a nap with Paul Harvey on the radio in the background.

I can still hear, "Stand by...for News!" in my head when I think of Paul Harvey, and I remember his stories fondly. That's why, when I came upon this in the newspaper one day many years ago, I saved it. I recently found it again and decided to post it here. Whether you remember Paul Harvey or are too young to know who he was, you will appreciate this wisdom, which was written by a man named Lee Pitts and popularized by Mr. Harvey in a 1997 Broadcast:

These Things I Wish for You:

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I’d like better.

I‘d really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meatloaf sandwiches. I really would.

My cherished grandson, I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. I hope you have a job by then.

It will be good if at least one time you can see a baby calf be born and your old dog put to sleep. I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a Disney movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days when you have to catch a ride I hope your driver doesn’t have to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use those newfangled computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get razzed by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what Ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin you knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on the stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I hope you get sick when someone blows cigar smoke in your face. I don’t care if you try beer once, but I hope you don’t like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandpa and go fishing with your uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and the joy of holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through a neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster of Paris mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you--tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness.

I've my share of these experiences, and I think I'm better for it. How about you?


  1. These are sooo good.
    It really is the simple things in life that really make it!

    thanks for this reminder...I needed it today.

  2. OMG! Classic! I totally forgot about our household Paul Harvey memories until reading your blog. Thanks for the flashback. I can attest to Dad's table rules. I have scars from fork prongs on the top of my hand as evidence of his strictness. That memory I could do without, but I appreciate the one of Dad with his long legs stretched out in the livingroom, feet crossed at the ankles and toes pointing up. Thanks, Sis.

  3. one more thing sis... on Valentines Day, I had dinner with Mom to cheer her up (her 2nd Valentines without Dad). She made soup. I had to get up from the table and go get the salt. I had an immediate memory of Dad's demand for salt and pepper at the table. I was secretly happy Mom hadn't put the salt out. It was somehow theraputic going to get it without getting yelled at for having to do so. : )

  4. My grandfather was very exacting like that. Not mean, just things had to be a certain way.

  5. I love Paul Harvey, and this. I wish children HAD experiences like these now, because I DO think they would make them better people.

  6. Who could forget the unpleasant memories about the salt and pepper? Of course we now can realize that it wasn't about that at all right? He must have felt out of control regarding trying to feed 12 mouths or something. And, I very often think about Paul Harvey, and how all conversation had to stop when he came on at noon! I had imagined him to be dark and handsome, so when I first saw his photo I was rather disappointed. :0 I got over it though! I also remember thinking dad was so inconsiderate blasting the morning news so early in the morning. Now I realize that probably that was our alarm clock!


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