Larry Elder

My dad worked hard at his two jobs, also accepting occasional weekend jobs, while managing to go to night school to get his GED. My mom and my dad enjoyed a 56-year-long marriage and raised three boys. My mother died last year. My dad, at age 91, remains a joy to be around.

One day, my dad and I were cleaning out the garage -- throwing out a lot of old stuff. I found an envelope and we opened it. It contained a letter that my dad, at age 36, wrote to my older brother. He remembered the letter and said he wrote it because he had a premonition that he would die at the age of 36, and wanted to leave a life road map of lessons learned, to help my brother through life without his father's guidance.

May 4, 1951

Kirk, my son, you are now starting out in life -- a life that Mother and I cannot live for you.

So as you journey through life, remember it's yours, so make it a good one. Always try to cheer up the other fellow.

Learn to think straight, analyze things, be sure you have all the facts before concluding, and always spend less than you earn.

Make friends, work hard, and play hard. Most important of all remember this -- the best of friends wear out if you use them.

This may sound silly, Son, but no matter where you are on the 29th of September, see that Mother gets a little gift, if possible, along with a big kiss and a broad smile.

When you are out on your own, listen and take advice but do your own thinking, and concluding, set up a reasonable goal, and then be determined to reach it. You can and will, it's up to you, Son.

Your Father,

Randolph Elder

Few philosophers put it better. My dad says that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit