"Now, I donít want you to worry about me. I will get over
this as I have survived everything else. But just in case something unexpected
should happen to me, I want you to take charge. Donít let the family dwell upon
it. Time and life go on. I have been fortunate to be able to live my life as a
lion. Two weeks of that is worth a lifetime as a lamb.
"I chose to keep our family in Brenham and Texas, rather
than going to other places and trying new opportunities. That might have been
more profitable, but Brenham still holds the values that first brought your
great grandfather to this state almost 100 years ago. Some of these values will
change, but most will remain t he same as they have throughout history. It is
important to remember that no matter how they try in Congress, they cannot
repeat the law of gravity. Godís lawís and natural laws are the ultimate power
in this world. Some people may only discover them after a lifetime, but they do
exist. Recognizing them is critical.
"The most important thing I can leave you is a good name,
and I think I have done that. Your mother and I have worked and saved a long
time to create this beginning for you and your sister. Home has always been the
most important part of our lives and should be of yours. We hope we have taught
you the importance of your values and passed along our heritage. You have an
education that will help you achieve what is really important in lifeóbeing a
responsible citizen, loving husband, and sensitive father. There may be more to
living, but these three areas can make your life deeply satisfying.
"What I feel I will be leaving you is an opportunityóa start
from which you can make your own mark. The time that we spend on earth is
relatively small in comparison with the great movement of history. All we can
do within our life span is to make the world better than it was when we first
arrived. All fortunes eventually are dispersed, but the ideas and values that
you leave to society can live forever. I hope you and Kitty will have a
wonderful family, just as your mother and I had with you and Deanna. Being a
good Father is your greatest challenge and responsibility. Teach your children
the ideas you think are proper. Give them the best values that you can. And
teach them how to judge what is best for their lives and nation. We must try to
make every generationís character better than the one before it and build a
higher standard of living through wise policies.
"Donít underestimate the power and value of ideas, politics,
and money. But never let any of these be your God. Learn to acquire and use
them, but make absolutely certain that you understand the purposes for which
they are being used
"Lots of things have changed in Texas since I was a young
man, and they will continue to change even faster during the next 20 years as
your generation assumes leadership. You will need to keep a clear sense of
whatís important. I remember hearing how my dad came to Texas from Germany.
Whenever a family suffered a bad harvest or business disaster, their neighbors
helped them out until they were able to get on their feet again. Now it seems
that everyone is out for his own piece of the pie regardless of who else
starves. There is still charity, but people are sometimes too busy to hear
their consciences. Too often even charity itself is commercialized; but if a
dime out of each dollar reaches the needy, it is worth our efforts.
"Life is already different from a few years ago. Iím worried
about the way politics is changing. People donít know their leaders personally.
They donít seem to have the same respect as they did in my day for the ideas
that made America strong. Texas can have great impact on our country. But as
Texans, we can either mature and bring our ideas to other Americans, or we can
create a petty state that will be defeated by partnership. If that happens, we
will make little difference.
"I have hope that you and other young people can understand
the changes occurring in politics and economics and how they effect you. Then
youíll be able to handle them. In the process, Youíll turn Texas and America in
a more positive direction again.
"Remember to associate with people who care more about
whether they go to heaven or hell then whether they become governor of Texas or
head of a company. Ambition can be your worst enemy. Often you are not a good
leader until you have lost your ambition and come face to face with what is
most important in life. Guard against both ambition and pride, or in the long
run you will be a loser, perhaps not in appearance, but in reality. You will
have to deal with all types of people in life. Some will be genuine and others
will not. It will be hard to judge them until you have had experience with
them. Do not hesitate to cultivate friendships because that is what makes life
enjoyable. However, watch new acquaintances for a while before giving them your
"One certainty in life is that you are not always on top.
There are many people who try to avoid the falls by changing philosophies.
These are people of convenience. Theyíre often successful in the short term,
while they are on earth. But I have always wondered whether they were
successful in the sense of eternity. I feel following conscience is a far
"Remember to judge people on their merit and not by their
possessions or jobs. People should be judged by how they use their success
rather than by how much they acquire. There is a difference between
self-respect and pride. Just as there will always be differences in abilities
and destinies, there always will be economic distinctions. But we have a
responsibility to allow people to keep their self-respect. Your grandfather
taught this to me early in life when he took me to his wholesale grocery. The
Depression made life in Texas very tough, and few people made money. Everyone
helped his neighbors and enjoyed closeness and cooperation. Your grandfather
and I would slit open sacks of flour and spend what seemed to be a lifetime
trying to crack, not break some eggs. I thought this was one of the most
foolish things I had ever seen and could not understand why he would ruin good
merchandise at a time when everyone was losing money.
"So he sat down with me, and we had a conversation I will
always remember. He said his employees had helped him build the business. They
had gone through many long years together to make the business a success. They
all knew they couldnít keep them on, but my dad felt he had a responsibility to
help. Dad said, `If you offer these people money for doing nothing, some of
them would not take it because they would lose their self-respect. Those who
would accept the money would suffer equally from a loss of inner strength.í So,
I watched with admiration as my father offered damaged goods to his former
employees in exchange for helping help him move the merchandise.
"The older you become, the more youíll recognize the
importance of finding a purpose in life. But first you need to learn about
reality. Emotion more than thought rules your life when you are a child.
Ambition and ego guide your conscience more than responsibility. As your
maturity and responsibility develop, youíll think about morality. Your thoughts
will reach a deeper level of understanding. You will discover that God gave you
freedom of choice in how you live your life. The most important thing you can
do is to find a sense of love and oneness with God and other people. I became a
better person when I learned the lessons of stewardship and how to deal with
others by reading the Bible. In that way, I found my own meaning for life. You
will go through a similar process as you question why you were put on this
"The rule of the world is not just to take from life, but to
put something back. We all have responsibilities, although sometimes we would
like to ignore them, especially the difficult ones. Some men can affect very
little, but they still have the responsibility to do what they can in a
positive way. I have tried to do that. On occasions I have been right, and on
others Iíve been wrong. When I was wrong, I was able to admit it. Ay least God
knew my motives. That makes the later times of life, like these, a lot more
"There are many things you can learn from the Bible. The parable
of the talents teaches you that all of us are judged by what we do with our
resources. The more ability you are given, the more is expected of you. God has
given you a number of abilities. Please donít waste them."
. . . . . . . .
It was hard for me to accept that my father was dying.