It’s a sad day at the Smolen household: one of our longtime friends passed away at a relatively young age from breast cancer. Mrs. Smolen and I have known and been friendly with this woman for about 35 years. We first me her when she was a young mother, and our friendship endured for over a generation. We watched as she raised two fantastic children, weathered a divorce with dignity, committed much of her time to her church, supported herself, and contributed to everything with which she was associated.
I made this the topic of my memo because I think there are lessons we can all learn from her even after she has passed. Looking back on her life, I am struck by her steadfast dedication to everything in which she was involved: her children, her family, her work, her religion, her life. She wasn’t a perfect person—as she would be the first to admit—but she always demonstrated commitment to the task or person at hand. Boy, did this commitment pay off in the end. During her very difficult decline, her children, friends, and community were there to help. I think they recognized the “gift of commitment” she had given them during her life.
Hopefully, we as parents and leaders of the next generation are in a position NOW to earn the respect and loyalty that our friend did during her life. By committing ourselves 100% to our children, our families, and our communities, we too can leave those around us better off. By this, I don’t mean that you should give your children everything they desire or raise them without limitations. What I think you do owe them, however, is your full commitment to their well being. Use your best judgment as to what is in their best interests, but give it to them without reservation. You will be glad you did someday.