Author Spotlight: Bruce Smith: For What It’s Worth…Love, Dad
Often hilarious and always insightful, “For What It’s Worth, Love Dad” offers practical and sometimes profound advice on life, living and how precious the bonds are between parents and their children. Simply worded principles and personal experiences that speak to both parents and children. A must read for the new parent, the empty-nester, and especially the young adults striking out on their own for the first time.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a review of “For What It’s Worth, Love Dad” and today, I’m glad to welcome Bruce Smith himself. He’s here to tell us more about his book.
How did you choose which anecdotes to share? After all, you hinted at saving some of the more embarrassing ones for a sequel.
The stories I used in my book were some of the shinier apples from my memory tree. Or I suppose I should call it my memory “grove”. And while it’s a wonderful place to go now and then, not all the fruit hanging out there is sweet, just as not all of the stories in the book are meant to be funny. Life is like that. We plant and fertilize and prune, but in the end we generally have to accept what nature gives us. Remember that summer? That one special summer when everything was perfect? And the watermelon you ate was soooo sweet and juicy? That’s the part of my memory grove I like to visit. Sure, there were summers when the melon tasted “blah”, not sweet or ripe enough. But who really remembers them? So I chose the fruit, the stories…that were especially memorable to me and that I knew were memorable to my kids. At the time though, I didn’t realize how memorable some moments (like singing Peter, Paul & Mary to my daughter) were and still are to each of my children.
How did those memories stay top of mind for you?
That’s an easy one! They stayed on top because that’s where I kept them. Our lives flash past us in an instant. And separating one moment from the next is sometimes as difficult as distinguishing grains of sand as they pass through life’s hourglass. Luckily for me, I recognized this early on and I recall telling myself “you must remember this moment”…because that moment would never come again. Pretty soon I became really good at recording moments. I play them back from time to time, sometimes for entertainment, but I also like to reflect on what happened “then” and how it sometimes affects the “now”.
Did you have a collection of photos or your wife’s diaries to draw from?
To my knowledge, my wife doesn’t keep a diary. She’s usually to busy “doing” to take time to write it all down. Nope, I’m the family historian, I think. But photos? Yep….we got ‘em. And I often use them to loosen a memory or two.
I loved the insights from the one page ‘Something I always meant to tell you.’ They’re succinct, and more importantly, wise. Thank you for sharing them. (I’ve always been a huge fan of learning from others as opposed to making my own mistakes.) Which one is your favorite, and why?
That’s a tough question. I’ve actually had to go back to my book and reread those parts to give you an honest appraisal. I like your term, “insights”. It sounds so much better than “advice”. I remember an instructor once told me that, “brevity is the essence of communication”. So I try to say things clearly, but only once. Harping has never been my thing. But as you can tell, I do tend to digress a bit.
Anyway….to answer your question (finally), my favorite insight would have to be;
You are the writer and star of an implausible (and sometimes impossible) soap opera titled, “Your Life.” And each day you’ll write and improvise your way through another episode. Now: Will you be the victim, the villain, or the hero?
You may be the star,
But not every episode will be about you.
Now, as to why it’s my favorite…that’s a little more complex. When I look back at the mistakes that I’ve made (and there’s been many), one of the mistakes I always seemed to repeatedly make was in forgetting that I had the freedom of choice. While I’m not a bible-thumping zealot, I do believe that God (or whatever name you use to refer to your supreme being) gave us the ability to “choose”. And all too often, we forget that. We choose our existence, but blame it on circumstance. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is, whether an abusive relationship, a loveless marriage, or a degrading job…we choose it. In putting this entry into my book, “For What It’s Worth, Love Dad”, I wanted my children and my readers to be empowered in the knowledge that they control their own lives, for good or ill.
When my son was born, I purchased “memoir-style” books for my parents. Those books consisted of probing questions, followed by space for my parents to pen their memories. Those books are, regretfully, still empty. Possibly, my sister and I were to blame. We’ve been keeping our parents busy with grandchildren to play with, but I was hoping for a tangible memoir from my parents. What advice do you have for emotionally blackmailing them into writing their memoirs down?
Can’t help you there….emotional blackmail is more my daughter’s forte’. But…you might try to get them to open up about their parents. When they realize how very little they know about their Mom & Dad, they might be more receptive to your request.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of my blog?
Just this…the relationship of parent & child is the first encounter we have on this earth. It forms the foundation for the lives that will be lived for our children and for generations to come. In that, it is so much more important than getting that job promotion or paying this month’s rent. My own relationship with my parents wasn’t anywhere near where it could have (or should have) been. I was lucky enough to recognize that and to make sure that the relationship I have with my children would be so much more. I hope that readers of your blog will take the time to remember why they got married and why they had children and rediscover the joy and the magic that is there to be shared.
Bruce, thank you so much for sharing your insights with us through your book as well as through this interview. It’s been a pleasure. “For What it’s Worth…Love, Dad” is available in print and e-book on Amazon.