How many times has it happened to you, as children but perhaps also as adults, to not be able to tell your parents what you wanted, not to be able to find the words? Whether it is beautiful things, positive and loving feelings, or more painful things, communication with those who gave us life is often complicated, also because such long-standing relationships always carry a load of stories and memories that are difficult to put aside.
RELYING ON THE WRITTEN WORD
The problem is not yours alone, but perhaps common to all of humanity, especially when the characters are either too different or too equal. At times, one way to overcome this difficulty was to rely on the written word, in the form of the letter, in which, without having a father or mother in front of one’s eyes, one was finally able to say what one wanted to say.
We have selected five letters that are very different from each other, and come from very different contexts, which however seem significant to us in five different ways in which one can address parents. Here they are.
1. Franz Kafka’s letter
The Most Famous Letter Ever Sent to a Father
The name of Franz Kafka does not need many presentations: although almost ignored in life, he is today considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century, capable of grasping the seeds of a new sensitivity and bringing them into his works, from La metamorphosis to The Trial, passing through In the penal colony and other short stories and novels.
Not only were his works manifest that anguish that was beginning to be perceived in the first decades of the twentieth century: even his life was, in fact, the scene of great suffering and failed aspirations, starting with the relationship with his parents and in particular with his father, Hermann Kafka, a Jewish merchant from Prague who was always hostile to his literary ambitions.
recently you happened to ask me why I say that I would be afraid of you. As usual, I have not been able to answer you, partly precisely because of the fear that arouses me, partly because motivating this fear would require too many details, more than I would be able to gather in some way in a speech. If I now try to answer you by letter, this too will be a very incomplete answer, because even when I write, my fear of you and its consequences stop me, and because the vastness of the topic far exceeds my memory and my intelligence. […] I was a fearful child; but I was also stubborn, as are children; sure, mom spoiled me, but I can’t believe I was particularly tough, I can’t believe that with a kind word, an affectionate look, silently taking my hand, you wouldn’t get everything you wanted from me. And you are, after all, a good-natured and sweet person (what I am about to say is not in contradiction, I am speaking only of the impression I had of you as a child), but not all children have the resistance and the courage to search for a long time. affection until you find it. You know how to treat a child only according to your character, precisely with force, with racket and irascibility, and in my case this seemed very appropriate to you, wanting to make me a strong and courageous young man.
I remember only one episode well from the early years. Maybe you remember it too. One night I was whimpering incessantly for water, certainly not from thirst, but probably partly to annoy, partly to amuse myself. Seeing that some heavy threats were not served, you lifted me from the bed, took me to the balcony and left me there for a while alone, in front of the closed door, in my shirt. I don’t want to say it wasn’t fair, maybe that time there was really no other way to restore nighttime peace, I just want to describe your educational methods and the effect they had on me. That punishment made me obedient again, but I suffered internal damage. The absurd insistence on asking for water, which I found so obvious, and the boundless fear of being locked out, I have never been able to put them in the right relationship. Even after years I was frightened by the agonizing fantasy that the gigantic man, my father, the last resort, could arrive in the night for no reason and take me from the bed to the balcony, and that therefore I was a total nothingness to him. […] It was enough to crush your physical image alone. I remember, for example, when we undressed in the same cabin. I thin, weak, thin, you tall, imposing. Even inside the cabin I felt sorry, not only in front of you, but in front of the whole world, because you were for me the measure of all things. Then when we went out among the people and you held my hand, a skeleton, unsure, barefoot on the plank, afraid in front of the water, unable to imitate the swimming movements that you insisted on illustrating me with the best of intentions, but in reality, making myself more and more ashamed, then I fell into despair and in those moments all my negative experiences in all fields found a frightening confirmation. I felt the greatest relief when sometimes you undressed first and I could be alone in the cabin and defer the shame of my public appearance until you came to see where I was and dragged me out. I was grateful to you because you didn’t seem to notice my discomfort, and besides, I was proud of my father’s body. On the other hand, this diversity still exists between us today, in the same terms. I felt the greatest relief when sometimes you undressed first and I could be alone in the cabin and defer the shame of my public appearance until you came to see where I was and dragged me out. I was grateful to you because you didn’t seem to notice my discomfort, and besides, I was proud of my father’s body. On the other hand, this diversity still exists between us today, in the same terms. I felt the greatest relief when sometimes you undressed first and I could be alone in the cabin and defer the shame of my public appearance until you came to see where I was and dragged me out. I was grateful to you because you didn’t seem to notice my discomfort, and besides, I was proud of my father’s body. On the other hand, this diversity still exists between us today, in the same terms.
2. The letter from the LEGO
The Danes Were at the Forefront as Early as 1974
A few months ago, the publication of the photograph you see on the side caused quite a sensation. A user of the famous website Reddit, one fryd_, published it, claiming to have found it inside a LEGO box that dated back to the 70s. A German version of the same letter, dated 1974, also quickly emerged, although disbelief at such a modern message has led many to doubt the authenticity of the sheet.
The final word on the matter came from the Danish toy company: the Italian division itself confirmed that “the text was part of a Lego booklet from 1974. The catalog was included in some selected sets that were part of a series dedicated to dolls’ houses in 1974
The desire to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.
It is the imagination that matters. Not the skills. Build whatever springs to mind, the way you want. A bed or a truck. A dollhouse or a spaceship.
A lot of kids like dollhouses. They are more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They are more exciting than dollhouses.
The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever attracts them.
3. Michael Andrew Scott’s Letter
The Farewells of the Soldiers of the Second World War
Michael Andrew Scott is not a famous name. He was one of the many English soldiers who died on the Channel Strait during the Second World War, in an attempt to oppose the Nazi ferocity that was ravaging Europe. He was born in 1916, at the time when Great Britain was at war with Germany (at that time not Nazi but militarist anyway) and would die just twenty-five years later, in 1941.
The letter he wrote to his parents in the event that he met his death during the conflict was found and published by Sian Price, a historian who has spent three years collecting the most beautiful farewell letters that soldiers of all wars fought between the seventeenth century and the present day have written to their parents, their girlfriends, their children. Scott’s is also touching for the clarity with which it was written, despite the soldier’s young age.
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as this letter will only be delivered to you in the event of my death, it may seem like a macabre document to you, but I don’t want you to see it that way. I have always felt that our stay on this earth, that thing we call “Life”, is nothing more than a transitory stage in our development, and that the dreaded monosyllable “Death” should indicate nothing to have. fear. I have lived my adventures and must now move on to the next stage, the consummation of all earthly experience. So don’t worry about me; I’ll be ok.
I would like to pay tribute to the courage that you and my mother have shown, and will continue to show, in these tragic moments. It is easy to see an enemy face to face, and laugh at him by mocking him, but the invisible enemies Toughness, Anxiety and Despair are a very difficult problem. You have kept the family together as few could, and I take my hat off in front of you.
Now I would like to tell you a little about myself. You know how much I hated the idea of War, and that hatred will stay with me forever. What has allowed me to continue is the spiritual strength that comes from the music, which reflected my own feelings, and from the power it has to lift a soul from earthly things. Mark had the same experience as me, although his means of encouragement was Poetry. Now I will go to the source of Music, and I will be able to satisfy the vague desires of my soul by becoming part of the source from which all goods derive. I don’t believe in a personal God, but I believe more strongly in a spiritual force which was the origin of our being, and which will be our ultimate goal. If there’s something worth fighting for, it is the right to follow our paths to this goal and prevent our children from seeing their souls sterilized by Nazi doctrines. The most horrifying aspect of Nazism is its educational system, based on leading rather than bringing out, and on putting the state above all spiritual things. And that’s what I fought for.
What I can do now is give voice to my faith that this war will end in Victory, and that you will have many years ahead of you in which to regain normal civilian life. Good luck!
4. Eric Fox’s Letter Pitt Lubbock
A Boy’s Farewell to His Mother
Also from Sian Price’s book comes our fourth letter, written this time during the First World War. The author of the letter is Eric Fox Pitt Lubbock, a young lieutenant who actually died a year and a half after writing the text for his mother: the letter is in fact dated October 1915, while the date of Lubbock’s death is March 11, 1917, during the Battle of Flanders.
Educated at Eton and Oxford, Lubbock was one of the many young university students who volunteered at the outbreak of World War I, eager to make their contribution and to find, on the battlefield, a ground in which to confront, in which to escape from the banality of bourgeois life, in which they can show their courage and their values; a generation that went to meet, unaware, its own defeat in front of the shots of machine guns and automatic weapons.
My dear mom,
everyone here is confronted almost daily with the possibility of Death, and when they look forward to the next few months that possibility becomes very probable. That is why I am now briefly writing you a few words which, in the event of my death, I hope will give you comfort and encouragement. This is my purpose in writing to you, because my goal in life is to help you and give you comfort, and my last hope is that if I get carried away from you, I can help but cause you great pain. The thoughts I would like to write to you are the ones I had on an occasion when it seemed that my life was about to end. Also, I know that in my last hours, I am convinced, my greatest consolation will be knowing that those thoughts will reach you.
One of the questions one asks about all of this is: Are you afraid of Death? And I’m convinced I don’t have any. I try not to imagine what is after death. There are many, many things that get confusing when you think about it, but this seems to me the only truly unsolvable problem. Just as as children we have no idea what life is really like, so we have no idea what after life is. But I believe in this: that this world is our nursery and that here we are trained to be ready for another and better life.
Of course, I know all of this won’t relieve you of the first pangs of separation. You will say that I should have been spared, for some time, to help and comfort you. Yes, and I hope I will be spared.
So, Mom, if you are going to lose me, try not to make the blow too hard for you, try to overcome your sorrow and live in peace. You have a lot of work ahead of you in looking after M. and making him the great and good man he will become. And you have to help U., who although she is so wonderfully strong and good, needs help in raising her children, a help that you more than anyone can give her. Live happy for them.
5. Mike Matheny’s Letter
From Baseball Coach to His Kids’ Parents
We conclude with a completely different letter from those we have presented so far, a letter written not by a son to his parents, but by a baseball coach, which however seems relevant to us for how it touches some important points of the sport and its aspect more properly. educational. The author of the letter is Mike Matheny, former Major League Baseball player and since 2012 head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most prestigious teams in the league.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Metheny joined the MLB in 1991, selected by the Milwaukee Brewers; he then briefly joined the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving a major trace in the St. Louis Cardinals and ending his career in the San Francisco Giants. Not a great hitter, however, he was one of the strongest receivers of his generation, arriving four times to conquer the Golden Glove of the category, an award given to the strongest defenders of the season. Retired in 2006, he went on to coach the kids (and the letter we report below dates back to this period) before being hired, in 2012, as manager of his former team, which in 2013 he led to the World Series, then lost. against the Boston Red Sox.
I always said that the only team I would coach would be an orphan team, and now we are. The reason I say this is that I have found that the biggest problem in youth sport is parents. I think it’s best to nip this thing in the bud. I think the concept I’m asking all of you to grasp is that this experience is all about boys. If there was anything about you, we should change plans. My main goals are:
1) to teach these young men how to play baseball well;
2) have a positive impact on their training;
3) do all this with class.
We may not win every game, but we will be the highest-class coaches, players and parents in every game we play. The boys will play by showing respect for their teammates, for the opponents and the referees, whatever happens.
[…] I believe a parent’s greatest task is to be a silent source of encouragement. I think if you asked most of the kids what they want their parents to do during the race, they would say “Nothing”. Once again: this game is only for kids. I think the parent feels they have to participate by yelling out loud things like “Let’s go! Force! You can do it! ”, But they add pressure to the kids. I will already give enough pressure to the children […], and they will give it to themselves and their companions: you as parents must be silent and constant sources of support.
We may not have good arbitrage. It is a fact, and the sooner we understand it, the better we will play. There will be balls rolling into the ground which will be called strikesand balls that will fly over our heads that will be called strikes . Boys will not be allowed to show emotion against the referee at any time. They won’t shake their heads, or sulk, or say anything to the referee. This is my job, and I will do it well. […] I’m really doing you parents a favor that you probably don’t notice. I have taken away any task other than to get your children on time and have fun. The thing these guys need to hear is that you enjoyed watching them and hope they enjoyed it too.
[…] I want you all to know that we will probably lose a lot of games this year. The main reason is that we need to understand how to measure up to local talent. The only way to do this is by playing against some of the best teams.
[…] I know this way will work because it is the way I was initiated into the game and the way our parents acted from the stands. I joined my first team when I was 10, in a small suburb of Columbus, Ohio. We had a very disciplined coach who expected the same from us. We devoted eight summers to this man and were rewarded for our efforts. I went to the University of Michigan, one to Duke, one to Miami of Florida, two to North Carolina, one to Central Florida, one to Kent State, and most of the others played in minor divisions. Four of us ended up becoming professionals. This took place in a small town where no one had ever been recruited by any college. I don’t want to say that this will necessarily happen to your children as well, but I want you to understand that this system works.