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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: Grandpa's Farm School
By Joanney Uthe



I know spring is a busy time on the farm, but I wish you and Mom could make it to Jaydenís graduation. He will be mentioning you in his speech. Weíll tape it for you.

Can you believe eighteen years have passed since we first held him in our arms? I promised myself that I would be a different kind of father than you had been to me. Over the years I found myself making some of the same mistakes and realizing that others werenít mistakes at all.

Iíll be honest, Dad, there were days I wasnít sure that I was going to allow Jayden to live long enough to graduate from high school. He was so rebellious! He had started to hang out with a questionable group of kids. I think ďwrong crowdĒ is a bit strong, but their influence was evident in his attitude. I didnít like his behavior, but I came to realize that only my fear of you kept me from doing the same things at his age. Thanks again for insisting that he spend last summer on the farm.

At first I didnít want him to go. I was still bitter over some of the things you did when I was a boy and didnít want that for Jayden. But I had failed as a parent and thought if you could do better... I guess in a way, this is a confession: I allowed him to come to get back at you for what not being the perfect dad, and out of guilt that I was no better.

Despite my hesitation, it was the best thing for Jayden. When he failed math, Jenny and I decided he would do the first session offered of summer school, then the rest of the summer on the farm. I had my doubts, but you and Mom were the wonderful teachers he needed that summer.

The difference in Jayden was obvious as soon as he returned. I was sure it would fade over the school year as he reconnected with his friends, but the changes were real. I have to admit that Jaydenís time spent at the farm has changed our whole family. As soon as Jayden got home he insisted we all attend church. Jenny and I agreed to go as long as Jaydenís attitude stayed positive and he stayed out of trouble. He made us try five or six different churches before he found one he liked, interviewing the pastor after the service at each one.

I began to understand what was different in Jayden. They were the same changes Iíve seen in you in recent years; changes I attributed to you having ďgot religion.Ē We couldnít deny how much it has helped Jayden but he insisted that it was more than religion. He got involved in the church youth group and discipleship program. It has been a wonderful thing for all of us. While he meets with the youth pastor, Jenny and I meet with another couple and Hunter and Nicole play with the other coupleís children who are about the same ages. About a month ago, Jenny and I both gave our lives to the Lord. We are planning to be baptized, but we want you and Mom to be there for the celebration.

Well, Dad, Iím not doing a very good job of what I really want to say in this letter. I want to apologize for spending so many years being bitter towards you and not realizing how wonderful a father you really are. I vowed to do many things differently than you did and when I kept that vow, it nearly destroyed my family. I see now the wisdom in your ways. Thank you, Dad, for loving me even when I rebelled. Jayden was only following my example. He treated me with disrespect because he saw me treating you that same way. Iím sorry.

Did Jayden tell you his plans for the future? He will be attending Calvary Bible College and plans to go into the ministry. He envisions a farm or a ranch were kids spend their summer learning to work the land and learning about Christ. He would like to help you on the farm summers and weekends, but has decided not to spend this summer with you. He thought it only fair to give Hunter the summer alone at Grandpaís Farm School, as the kids say. Nicole canít wait for her turn.

Give Mom our love,

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This article has been read 652 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 04/17/08
I could see a movie being made out of this! It reminds me of summery sort of days with the wizened grandfather and those life lessons that only father or a father twice-over (grandpa) can teach. I loved the letter format and especially the character of Bob as it changed. Great writing! ^_^
Sharlyn Guthrie04/20/08
What a great concept...farm school. I like the letter format for this, and the honesty in the feelings expressed.
Jan Ackerson 04/21/08
Joanney, I really like this! I love that it covers two genrations of fathers, and that the dad's letter is so very real--an authentic voice, and a very pleasant read.
Janice Cartwright04/21/08
In books I normally don't like the insertion of letters, but this one is special. It seemed more like a soul-unveiling conversation and all centered around the family, making it wholly indentifiable for your reader. Your voice was consistent and sincere. I really liked this.
Mandy White04/21/08
I enjoyed this, Joanney. I love the spirit of reconciliation in the letter.
Gerald Shuler 04/21/08
This preaches to all who have ears. I hope readers listen.
Mariane Holbrook 04/21/08
This is such a good read with such a good lesson. I enjoyed it for a number of reasons. Kudos, my friend!
Betty Castleberry04/21/08
You have outdone yourself. I love the poignant, personal tone and love the letter format, which is one of my favorites.
I can see this being done more in depth, and developed a novel. Thumbs up.
Debbie Wistrom04/21/08
Thanks for the hint or I may have missed this wonderful message of redemption and forgiveness. Keep up the good words.
Joanne Sher 04/22/08
Joanney, the voice on this is absolutely compelling and wonderful and spot-on. I was intrigued and engrossed throughout. This is a maturer writing than I remember from you. Excellent.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/22/08
A powerful message that crosses generations, embraces the topic, and leaves the reader thinking. Well done!
Laury Hubrich 04/24/08
Very nice, Joanney! I love this. Very creative format.
Edy T Johnson 04/25/08
I love your letter format (I guess I'm snoopy and enjoy reading folks' letters). This has a rich texture: unfolding story on the surface, while in the depths, the MC's understanding and character development is revealed in his words. My favorite line: "Jayden was only following my example. He treated me with disrespect because he saw me treating you that same way. Iím sorry." Great summation of the core problem. Well written, friend!