My dad has always said, “You don’t have to tell everything you know.” Of course, as a teenager that bit of wisdom frustrated me. What could be wrong with sharing my every thought and whim with anyone and everyone? In our society we celebrate being able to speak our mind, regardless of the outcome. Who cares if what is on our mind might wound and do irreparable harm? I’ve come to find I do indeed care. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate my Dad’s sage advice. Some of his ways are still a mystery to me. Nevertheless, that’s for another post ;<).
Recently, I was given Papa’s Pearls to review. This little treasure of a book brought to my mind all of those words of wisdom passed along to me by my parents and grandparents throughout my life. Written by Diane Flynn Keith, the book is filled with anecdotes of Diane’s own father’s life. Between tales of his childhood and life experiences, Diane shares little nuggets of wisdom gleaned from “Papa.”
Papa grew up in San Francisco during the Depression. He was “schooled” on the streets and even moonlighted as a prizefighter. My own father was raised near San Francisco. In fact, when I saw my first Punk Rocker on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) I was only 12. It changed my life. That’s pretty big stuff for a little hillbilly girl from the Ozarks.
Papa served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was one of the more successful New Deal programs implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. He served his country during WWII on board the USS Barrow. One cute story Diane tells is of how Papa initially wanted to join the Marines. However, when he went to sign up at the recruiting office the Marines had a long line. He happened to glance over at the line to join the Navy. It was much shorter. Thus, Papa became a seaman.
Papa later became a successful business and devoted family man. I found the story of his life completely fascinating. Of course, I am always curious about people. Papa’s experiences got me thinking about my own family history. Sure. I know the basic outline of some of my kin and relations. But what about their lives shaped who they became? Am I telling my son those stories of my life?
Not only did Papa lead a fascinating life, but he was able to translate those experiences into life lessons. He also lived his life with integrity and compassion. One such example is the story of Lillian and Thelma. They were a mother and daughter who lived in beautiful neighborhood. Papa was their plumber and he enjoyed many visits with the sweet ladies. Unfortunately, their stockbroker swindled them. The stockbroker eventually threw himself off The Golden Gate Bridge. The ladies were now destitute. They called Papa to explain that they couldn’t pay their bill. That’s when Papa and his wife came up with a plan to help care for those ladies the rest of their lives. Papa’s advice? “Keep a foxy pocket.” Diane explains in Papa’s Pearls, “You never know when it will come in handy for your benefit or to help someone else.”
This book really made me think. Am I passing down little pearls of wisdom? What is my son gleaning from my life? Will he be able to look at my life and see substance? Am I teaching him that things are more important than people or am I teaching him to treasure the relationships in his life? Am I showing him a life of integrity and compassion? Alternatively, am I too caught up with just the laundry, dishes and Pride and Prejudice Marathons?
I challenge you to ask yourself similar questions. What are we passing down to our kids? I also encourage you to read Papa’s Pearls. You can purchase it from the Papa's Pearls website for 21.97 (which includes shipping).
I read the book in one sitting. I also plan on using it as a read aloud for the family. I also have been encouraged to start recording some of those stories of my life, in addition to the stories of my parents and grandparents. What a gift!
I’ll leave you with another one of Papa’s Pearls. I laughed out loud when I read this. “I Am So Grateful I Have a Wonderful Family- There Are No Kook-A-Loonies.” “Kook-A-Loonies” were Papa’s expression for the more dysfunctional part of our population. We’ve got plenty of “Kook-A-Loonies” in our family. You know who you are ;<) (me being one).
You can read more about Papa’s Pearls and other TOS reviews.