My grandfather A.I Totten, led a remarkable life and though he passed a number of years ago now, I still think of him often. (In fact, I think of all my grandparents often, and I am certain I will write about each on this blog at some point.) A letter I wrote to him on the occasion of his 90th birthday seems particularly appropriate today—Thanksgiving. I am so fortunate to have had a number of role models both in my family and beyond it. I am particularly thankful to have people in my life about whom I can say things like I wrote to him. Here is an excerpt:
“Papa, I have been thinking of what to say in this letter that will reflect what I appreciate most about you. In the end I see in you an example of what I want to be—how I want to care for family, how I want to grow older, and how I want to keep my work life in balance with my home life. You stand as an example to me of how to handle life’s most difficult challenges, like losing a loved one, and you are an extraordinary example of how to enjoy life during its best days.
I think of you often in what has become my adult life. Though I am thoroughly flawed in so many ways, I am certain that knowing you has made me a better person.
And so…Happy Birthday! I hope you know how many people care for and love you. Judged by the lives that we make better, you are leading a most extraordinary life.”
Today I am thinking of the necessity of having good role models, and I recognize my good fortune in having them.
A world-class distance runner in the 1920s, I have written about my grandfather before here.