In March, I was delighted when I learned that I would receive a copy of Diane Flynn Keith's book, Papa’s Pearls: A Father’s Gift of Love and Wisdom To His Children and Grandchildren, to review. I had heard that it had been published, and wanted to read it
but had other more urgent school materials that I was trying to save up for.
The book arrived quickly: a cute 5"x8" paperback, about a centimeter thick, 112 pages. Well, I thought, what a sweet little book. Couldn't wait to dive in. I started reading immediately.
I quickly learned that for me this book was going to be a hugely emotional journey. The author began this book in 2011, but before it was published, "Papa" died. So the book is being distributed as a tribute to Diane Flynn Keith's dad. My own dad died in 2006, and it still seems like yesterday. I thought I'd take this book with me in my tote, wherever I went, so that I could pull it out to read it if I was in a doctor's waiting room, or sitting in the car waiting for my son at Boy Scouts. This quickly did not work for me, as I cried constantly while reading this book. Don't get me wrong; the book is not entirely sad or anything. It is just that there were so many ways her dad's life paralleled my dad's life; it was hard to read about him and not mourn the loss of both him and my dad.
Diane Flynn Keith's Papa was born in San Francisco in January, 1922. He was named Carol Joseph Flynn, after King Carol I of Romania. (I so totally "get" all of this. My dad, born 1925, was named Herbert William (both Kings), with brothers Robert, and George Edward, and my brother was named Bruce, all kings.) His parents, "Mickey" and "Fan" (both nick names) raised Carol and his (surviving) two siblings through the depression (like my dad's family). Like so many kids in Depression-era families, Carol grew with a strong work ethic, which he passed on to his family.
Carol started his life on a rocky road, though, periodically doing things that got him in trouble, which ultimately landed him in a punishment school called "Continuation School". Fortunately through this he was able to turn his situation around, develop some skills, and move into the Civilian Conservation Corp. Here he received more training and experience that ultimately enabled him to launch a career in plumbing.
Carol served in World War II in the Navy. (My dad served in World War II in the Army Air Corps.) He met Jan, married, and had two daughters and a son, Diane being his oldest. (My dad met Ida, married, and had two daughters and a son; I'm the younger daughter.) Papa worked his life as a plumber. (My dad was a brick layer.)
Throughout his life, Carol Flynn had certain sayings that he used that became treasures to his family, which Diane calls "Papa's Pearls". Examples of these sayings were:
- "What's the worst thing that could happen?"
- "Everyone deserves a second chance."
- "You gotta use your street smarts."
- "You gotta keep a foxy pocket."
(and many more). Throughout the book the author presents the sayings, explains them, and makes the reader understand them. I couldn't help but constantly compare "Papa" to my own dad. I began to think up sayings my own dad had said. I also couldn't help comparing my dad to Papa, and wishing Papa had been my dad. The parallels between Papa and my dad were many, but there were differences that made me envy Diane, even though I don't want to malign my dad. I loved Papa's "Where's my hug?", and "Back rubs" and "I love you. You know that, right?" I would have loved it if my dad had been like that.
I loved gleaning gems from Papa to use in my own parenting. For instance, I want to be able to keep a foxy pocket (a little cash tucked away) that I can pull out of to help out my adult children when they are in need. I want to be able to love them with the kind of love that regularly expresses itself ("I love you. You know that, right?"), and that says I'll always be there for them ("If you ever need anything--you've got it."). I really enjoyed that I already have instilled in my kids to always keep their eyes searching for coins and bills on the ground ("That's like finding money in the street.").
I really enjoyed this lovely little book in memory of Carol Joseph Flynn, "Papa". I highly recommend it. It has inspired me to be more like Papa in my parenting, and has inspired me to put a memoir of memories of my own dad for my children and niece and nephew. I have already been doing ancestry studies, but I think they will also appreciate glimpses into his personality, sayings like, "If you don't have it, don't spend it!"
I thank Diane Flynn Keith for permitting me to have such an intimate glimpse into her life, and for introducing me to Papa.
Click on the name Papa's Pearls to purchase your autographed copy for $21.97 (which includes postage). The website is full of wonderful things, such as more photos of Papa, the song he loved ("Doodle-de-doo"), recipe-of-the-month, contests, a blog. Scroll around. Consider the book. All of Papa's Pearls are listed on the blog, but you need the book to have full understanding of all of them. I encourage you to consider investing in this little tome. It will warm your heart. This book will inspire any parent, and can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to read about a great dad.
The author of Papa’s Pearls: A Father’s Gift of Love and Wisdom To His Children and Grandchildren, Diane Flynn Keith, is known for her other book, Carschooling. I also receive daily emails from Ms. Keith called "ClickSchooling" (Click here to subscribe to ClickSchooling Today!), where she sends out a different link for each subject each day. I've been a fan for years.
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