Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Special Sentimental Letter

Baylor University freshman beanieI was possibly still wearing this Freshman Slime Beanie at Baylor University when my daddy wrote me a special letter. He wrote me letters fairly often back then because it was unheard of for people to spend much time on long-distance phone calls and there was no such thing as email. I found this letter in some things we hauled to Alabama from storage in Mississippi. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Dear Mae Dean,

It seems just like it was yesterday that I wrote you — but another week has rolled around. Time rolls on. I guess next week will be "dead" week — then exams and another quarter will be unrolled. Such is life. Before one week is finished another begins — then months — then years and then a lifetime. It's a strange thing — but at your age 20 years seems like a tremendous length of time (and it is because it represents all the time that you can remember), but at my age it becomes 45 years, and it does not seem any longer to me than 20 years seems to you. I assume that would also be true of one in his 60's or 80's. Time is such a relative kind of thing — and as you have heard me say before the only time any of us have is the present moment. We cannot look nor cling to the future (today is yesterday's future), nor can we live in the past. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said, "Let the Dead bury the Dead." Thus, we come to another bible quotation that says "let him who is truthful — be truthful still; let him who stole, steal; let him who hungers be hungry still" etc. — which simply means that whatever we are doing now is what we will be doing tomorrow. No — a happy future is not molded out of unhappy todays. In other words "today is the day."

If one is muddling through a misspent day today, there cannot be any assurance at all that tomorrow will not be the same way. BUT, a happy, well-spent day today will almost guarantee a similar day tomorrow.

24 hours later ...

Well at least I have something to write about today. I came home yesterday afternoon and found Mama and Ella both crying, and between sobs I found out you had "ruined your life." I just knew you had run off with the gambling man or had shot and killed your roommate in a drunken rage. You can imagine my relief when I found out you're just up to your annual escapade. Boy, you can pick 'em! Of all the things I would have thought about you doing — that was the last! But that's what keeps life interesting — never a dull moment.

But seriously for a moment, there is one very good and useful lesson that can be gained out of this. You know I was an officer of the law for a number of years, and it was my painful duty to arrest many folks who had done something they shouldn't . In all of those years I never arrested one person who had prepared to be "caught." All of them down to the last man and woman — never thought about the possibility of being apprehended and punished for their wrongdoing. There is an old adage of the underworld that says, "The criminal is the one who gets caught." If there is a common denominator of all crime and wrongdoing , that is it — no one expects to get caught. If they did, they wouldn't do it. So ... you see; if you would remember the rest of your life to say (before you do anything) what if I get caught — what then. It could become a very valuable lesson. Actually, with all seriousness, we nearly always do get caught — if not by person, our own consciousness snares us in its net. The Bible quote "be sure your sins will find you out" is worthy of all consideration.

I neither condemn nor condone — I am realistic enough to know you are kin to your father and mother and have inherited our weakness. If you were perfect — I suspect we would feel awfully uncomfortable with you around. As it is, we look forward to seeing you — our own flesh and blood.

Love, Your Dad

So you're wondering what that was all about, right? My parents had received a letter from the Dean of Women at Baylor telling them I had been caught smoking in my dorm room with two other girls and if this occurred again, I would be expelled. Coeds were not allowed to smoke at Baylor University in those days. PERIOD.

I did not do it again for awhile, and certainly not at Baylor. And you thought "That Good Ole Baylor Line" was about football, didn't you?


  1. I think it's very special that you've shared Granddad's letter with the world. :)

  2. It's maybe even worth mentioning here that you were caught smoking ... a cigarette.