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To each granddaughter, with love and good advice

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

It is often remarked that there are no real directions for being a parent; there's lots of advice but no simple, straightforward directions.

Nor are there any for being a grandparent.

But in as much as my meandering takes me in this direction today, here is a letter to my granddaughter. I have four, but this is written so that each can consider it individually.


Dear Granddaughter,

Someday you may read this. There certainly is no hurry, and less still is there a necessity.

They are thoughts much like leaves scattered in the wind. Some may be interesting and some may not. If you are rolling your eyes and looking skyward right now, you probably don't want to continue.

• You will come to an age, or already have, in which everything will seem extremely important, and while your moms may not initially want you to know this, it is not important.

The whole world, not just your family, will conspire to act as if seriousness is vital, that grave concern is the appropriate way to view things, that live is a drama. The end result is stress.

So go with the flow, pretend when you are in their company, that all is vital. And then – if I am around – look at me and we will exchange winks.

• Communication is important; silence is equally important. You live in an age in which so many are hyper about communications and the value of peace is forgotten. If you have time to sit with me you won't need to say a word; I learned the value of sitting in silence with your great-grandfather. I'll share it with you.

• There is an adage: It is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game. That wisdom does not just apply to sports, it is about life.

Everyone will tell you to stretch for the best, and for the most part that is good advice. Good advice, that is, until your desires turn against you and put you in misery. We are human, and we want things, but we do not control the world, so just as we know when it is light and dark we need to know when to accept when our goals can or cannot be achieved. It is tricky, but it need not be painful.

• Laughter is not superfluous behavior. It is vital to your well-being. Sure, there are probably situations in which laughing is inappropriate – as in the classroom when the teacher is lecturing or when someone else is suffering. But that said, some of the best teachers interject humor in their lectures and healing laughter has been heard at funerals.

• Detach yourself from the melodramas of the world. If you can keep your sight on the larger picture, you can help your loved ones and friends deal with the ups and downs of life and you will be a good friend.

• Read a piece called “Desiderata.” You can do that yourself, I need say no more need about it except to reaffirm its point that it is “still a “beautiful world.”

• Last, for now, don't believe anything just because someone tells you — even if it is me. Life is for finding its truths on your own.

• Oops, that wasn't the last thing I wanted to tell you. The other is: I love you. That you can believe.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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