A Letter to Doug

THE LETTER

Jackson Heights, New York
16 February 1969

Dear Doug:

Welcome to a world which I hope will be a better one by the time you grow up and can live life to its fullest. You can help make that better world. Man is only 400 generations from the cave days and has yet far to go. To make a better world to live in is the primary mission of all of us. Some succeed in making such a contribution. Others fail. It all depends upon our individual sense of values.

Each one of us should always strive to help, not hurt — to do the best we know how, according to our highest sense of right in our relationships and dealings with our fellow human beings. One day, in a few years, when you are old enough to understand, your parents will explain to you the meaning of the most important word in the English language — integrity. It encompasses the meaning of several other words, love, and responsibility to yourself and to others. No man can live for himself alone and keep his soul healthy and whole.

You will be confronted by many problems and questions as life unfolds for you. You will find the answers to some, but not all. But there is one thing you must never forget — never be afraid, of anything! Faith, courage, duty are the most sublime words in any language. Never, never forget them and, if you should ever feel lonely, know that you are never alone, for God stands close by in the shadows watching over his own. Never hesitate to call upon the Spiritual Forces that are our ever present help and strength, regardless of what particular brand of religion you happen to follow, or how cynical you might become at times. No one has a copyright on God. He belongs to all men. There may be times when our fellow man may fail us. God never does. It is a good thought to hang onto, Doug, when confused and irrational behavior creates turmoil about us. Then is the time to stand like a rock in your Faith and in right thinking. A very wise man once said: “If there was no God, it would be necessary for man to invent one.” And another said: “Man cannot live by bread alone.”

You may never read this, Doug, but perhaps your mother and father may keep it for you to read at a time when you have long outgrown the little material gift that goes with it. In the meantime there is one who sends his love and very good wish to you for a healthy, happy and useful life. God bless!

Your grand uncle,

[signed: Norton S. Parker]

SOME BACKGROUND

A copy of the onion skin of this letter was provided by my niece, Patricia Belle Weise, Norton S. Parker’s daughter, as part of materials she is sending me that might be useful in a family history. It’s a powerful letter and I hope by publishing it in this blog my children and grand children will read it and let the important values expressed in it become part of their life — as well as any other readers who find it resonates with their life views.

Norton S. Parker was my brother-in-law and had a profound impact on my pre-teen years, 1942-1944, when I was 10-12 years old. This talented and complex man served as a second father and taught me much of value that has guided my life into my 8th decade of living. One of the things he taught me along with my father was Integrity, whose value is so well expressed in the letter. I hope to write more about Norton later in this blog, but this page serves the purpose of further introducing him to you.

When I knew Norton in my pre-teen years, I was never aware of any religious bent except that during this time he was writing his well selling novel, “Table in the Wilderness” (Ziff-Davis, 1947), the story of the old-testament Joseph. His daughter said he was a Christian Scientist and had a practitioner he would call if he ever felt the need, but I had no knowledge of this in our interactions. I do remember that he encouraged my natural desire to read every thing I could get my hands on and he would never tell me the meaning of a word, but would require me to look it up in a huge dictionary that stood on its own stand in his living room.

I hope to write more about Norton in the future.

Another morning talk over coffee and biscotti.