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On Father’s Day: A Gift from the Grave

My father, Ed Collins, died when my son, Kyle, was just one year old.  Perhaps he knew his time was short because on April 28, 1994, less than three months after Kyle was born, he wrote him this letter.  On the envelope it said “To Kyle on his 18th birthday.”  We gave it to Kyle this past February.  We had waited for years to see this treasure and hear my father’s voice again.  I’ve transcribed the letter here in my father’s words, as he wrote it down.

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A LETTER TO MY ONLY GRANDSON

Before you read and understand this letter, I may no longer be here.  I just want you to know, it was the best day of my life when you were born.  The 4th of February will always be a holiday.  I will celebrate it as long as I live.  I remember February 2nd, when my brother was born, and February 15 when my father was born in 1878.

I doubt if you will ever comprehend what time it was.  No electricity, radio, T.V. or computers.  Those things are taken now so much for granted, yet 125 years ago people went to bed when it got dark, the rooster was the alarm clock and at 5 o’clock in the morning people got up to eat breakfast made from oats, Oatmeal.  They took a horse drawn street car, or in winter a sleigh to go to work.

I was born in 1922.  Things were already much better by then.  In some homes there was electricity.  Mother made breakfast on a stove burning coal.  In winter 25 below 0 was a normal winter day in far away Poland where I lived.

Maybe someday you will look at a map of the world to discover to your amazement that you have some kinship in cities like Tarnow and Krakow, and maybe when you travel through Europe, you will stop in those cities.  They meant a lot to me.  I was a very sentimental Polack.  I also made a good American.

You will travel a different road in your life.  Your father and mother will show you the modern way of life that befits the end of the 20th-21st century.  I envy you.  It will be a time full of exciting inventions to make life easier for people to live.  It will be a life full of temptations to take the most comfortable road to success.

Take a little advice from a man that passed this way.  You will never know, nor will you understand life and compassion if you take the easiest road in life.  To understand life a man has to take some bumps and climb some fences.  Stop, smell the flowers, live each day, as if it was your last.  Don’t wait for thanks and appreciation from others, just do things the best and most humane way, you will never go wrong.

Just ask yourself, is it the truth, is it fair?  Will it build goodwill and better friendship, will it be beneficial to all concerned.  If you take this road, you might not always win, but you will never lose, while climbing the road, the steep mountain that blocks your way, on the way to becoming a man.  Love, Ed Collins, Your Grandfather.

For more on Vicky Collins visit her website at Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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Toy Story 3: A Mom Reflects

I guess it was inevitable. Andy in “Toy Story” would grow up just like little Jackie Paper in “Puff, The Magic Dragon.” To this day I cry when I hear Peter, Paul and Mary sing the song so I wasn’t surprised that I got sentimental when I saw “Toy Story 3” last night. What I wasn’t prepared for was the complete welling of emotion. I had been warned by a friend on Facebook that this was a tearjerker but I didn’t see it coming through Woody’s antics and Buzz Lightyear’s Spanish speaking tango romp. Then I became a blubbering mess. My 12 year old said I was crying louder than anyone else in the theatre. You see, in two years I’ll have my own kid heading off to college and I’m already filling with nostalgia. My baby, the one who was photographed in his diapers and cowboy boots, the one who poured flour all over himself, who cried in the closet when he missed the ball that could have won the game, then years later played on the team that won the championship, will head to college too. And like Andy’s mom in “Toy Story 3” I’m not prepared to let him go and be left standing alone in a cleared out room.

This sophomore year has been a difficult one and there have been many times I’ve wished he would grow up, but when I actually stop to consider it, like I did last night, I realize how I’m dreading this rite of passage. It occurs to me that it probably hit my parents like a load of bricks too. I was the only one in our family to go to college. My dad only completed 8th grade, my mother dropped out of nursing school to get married, and my sisters chose not to go. My father was immensely proud to have a college student but I know when he wrote the check that guaranteed my spot at the University of Colorado he had a difficult time signing his name. Everything he dreamed of and dreaded would come to pass with the misty eyed stroke of a pen. My mom took it hard too when she brought me to Boulder and I couldn’t wait to run out with my new found friends. Now as my son hurtles towards adulthood (he’s 16, has a license, a truck and his first job) and passes through the house for food and showers, I can’t help but wish I had hung on to his playthings. I wish I hadn’t been in such a rush to send them to Goodwill. They’re gone, and soon he will be too, and I’ll be missing him in a room without toys and my boy.

Kyle Ewalt

Kyle Ewalt at 22 months old

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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American Idol and the High School Male

For parents struggling to communicate with their teenage children I recommend… drum roll please… American Idol (http://www.americanidol.com.)  Like many parents I am often at a loss about how to have a meaningful conversation with my 15 year old son, Kyle.  He loves sports and is a promising athlete himself so he and his father never run out of things to discuss.  Patching up an argument is easy for them too.  They just pretend nothing happened and move on to the latest stats or amazing play and they’re back in the game.  I on the other hand often get a “mom, don’t talk” or a conversation that consists of me talking and him grunting and rolling his eyes.  That is until American Idol comes on.  Each Tuesday and Wednesday are date nights for me and Kyle.   We sit and we watch and actually have an hour long conversation.

We talk about the singing and the contestants.  We dissect the performances.  He was apoplectic when Anoop Desai went home.  I think Adam Lambert is hot.  Kyle thinks he’s emo (whatever that means?.)  I like to point out the amazing accomplishments of young Allison (cleverly disguised teaching moment) and we both like Danny Gokey and Kris Allen.  Then there is Ryan Seacrest and the judges.  Kyle can’t stand Kara DioGuardia.  I think she’s terrific.  He loves Paula Abdul.  I think she dresses weird.  We imitate Randy Jackson.  Yo Dawg.  Check it out.  And of course it’s always fun to cheer and boo Simon Cowell.  At the end of the show neither of us votes or get involved in trying to save anyone.  He goes back to ESPN and I go read a magazine but for one blissful hour two nights a week I am cool to my teenage son and he is my American Idol.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.