A Letter to Leave Behind…
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I will be dead someday. That’s a scary concept to put down on paper. But it’s a fact. And when I think of my mother or my grandparents, I often imagine things we’d say to each other if they were alive today. Also, even though I have plenty of home videos with them all, I wish I had a letter, something from each of them I could always refer back to when I was feeling isolated from the rest of the world. It would be even nicer if that letter included some tips and tricks on how to successfully navigate through this confusing, often perplexing life. I think I’ve effectively teed this blog up, so let’s get to it.
I’m not currently dying, mind you (at least I don’t think I am). But here is my attempt at leaving something behind for my children to read when I’m eventually gone.
Dear Antonio, Nathaniel and (God help me) any other children I conceive after this writing,
First of all, know that I love you. I think that’s the most important thing to remember about me (or any child of their parent, really). But no matter what happens in your life, remember that fact, for knowing you came from a place of love should guide you on the correct path in life.
When each of you was born, it changed my life in every way imaginable. From the time I woke up in the morning to the volume of my voice when I shouted, it changed once you entered my life. The sacrifices were all worth it, though. I promise you that.
Be good to each other. The sibling relationship can easily be undervalued if you allow your inevitable differences to separate you. You share a unique bond and history with one another that no other person on earth can touch. So, remember this when having some petty argument about whether Goodfellas or Casino is the superior mob film (the correct answer is Goodfellas, by the way).
Don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life. Someone else’s path to happiness might differ greatly from yours. If you want to become an actor, a carpenter, an accountant, that’s fine with me. Just try not to change your mind about this immediately after getting a degree in World History.
Never forget where you came from. From the city you grew up in to the best friend you’ll have since 1st grade, all of this leaves a permanent mark on who you’ll become as an adult. Cherish your family as well as your friendships, as they are the constants in your life. But if a friendship has reached its unfortunate end, be mature enough to end it gracefully. You can’t do this with family, though. Nice try
Always set your DVR to record four minutes beyond the scheduled end time of your favorite TV show. It will save you countless hours of aggravation you can never get back. I should note that if you choose to marry, your partner in that marriage will appreciate this act more than words can say.
Speaking of marriage, deciding who you’ll experience life with is the single most important decision you’ll ever make. Please choose someone who understands you at your core, loves you despite your faults and challenges you when you need to be challenged. And if you decide to not marry, that’s fine. As long as you’re not the creepy guy at the bar in his 60s, drinking because he’s lonely and eating well after his hunger subsided. And don’t let it be because of the demands of your career. When you’re old and gray, you’re never going to look back and wish you’d spent more hours in the office. Especially if your job sucked.
Be active and don’t let technology consume you. As of 2013, there’s already a wide variety of addicting gadgets to occupy your time and energy. Some of them can be extremely useful. But never let electronics keep you from the simple pleasures of taking a walk or playing a game of kickball with your friends. Your mother and I have tried not to over-expose you to technological distractions, but we’re also guilty of letting it happen to ourselves. Me more than Mom.
Speaking of Mom, yours is amazing. She loves you unconditionally. I know this, because I’ve watched you yank her hair, stick your tongue out at her and, after you’ve been disciplined, she still has a look on her face of pure joy when your arms are wrapped around her neck in a hug.
Try not to make the same mistakes I did. This includes: not exercising enough, not applying myself in school, growing a terrible goatee, being a New York Jets fan.
Your maternal and paternal grandparents (Linda, Joe, Chela, Tony) all contributed something unique to who you are today. Regardless of whether they’re living or dead when you read this, they are an enormous part of you. Remember that.
I apologize in advance for your hair being coarse, unmanageable and your least appealing physical quality. DeProspero males have long been cursed with awful hair and a short temper. At least you won’t have to spend much money on shampoo.
Be a thoughtful gift-giver. And offer a sincere “thank you” when you receive one. Etiquette is important and shows others you cared enough to think of it. This goes a long way with most people.
Whenever you’re really angry at someone else, instead of instantly acting on it, write down what you want to say. All of it. Then wait an hour. If you still want to say what you’ve written down, say it. But I’ve found that, more often than not, what I think I want to say when I’m pissed off is not actually what I want to say.
Lastly, when you ultimately have to deal with my death, do both of us a favor and make it a closed casket funeral. Nobody looks good when they’re dead and I would hate for you to remember me looking like Joan Rivers in a tuxedo.
Again, always know that you come from love, be your best in whatever you do, and don’t hold onto anger. Being a positive, courteous, ambitious person will get you much further in life than anger or hate ever could.
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