My Counsel To You

My Life With Your Mother

  You’d think things would become easier after I won your mother’s heart, but nothing could be further from the case. In fact, everything got infinitely harder. No one liked the idea of me marrying your mother but my own parents. Your mother had to fight to marry me. She finally had to turn her back on everyone, including Grandma and Grandpa Gearspinner and walk away with me.   Oh, everyone eventually came around—especially when I started winning research awards—but they saw me dedication and devotion to your brilliant mother. These experiences taught me a lot about life, people and what it takes to stand firm within our own lives.   Sometimes we want to yell and kick and scream at Tgii for the cruel tricks played on us. Maybe you personally need to cut off a few extra limbs from an enemy, but the point is—we need ways to vent. That’s ok. We’re not less as people because of it. It’s that little screw on the top of the old steam cooker. You have to turn it, letting the pressure out before the whole pot explodes.   You’re a tough cookie, just like your beloved mother—but I want to share a few things with you.   Alhannah, you asked me once how I did it. You hear about the “perfect” marriage your mother and I had. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, sweetheart, but we did have principles we lived by. This concerned the loving relationship we had, but when I sat down to write this, I realized the same would apply to most relationships in life. Friendships included. So don’t think I’m trying to sway you from your decisions about your life choices. I’m not. Just consider this as a story about your parents…and if by some remarkable stroke of luck you can use this knowledge, feel free.   All I ask is that you put your assumptions aside, open your mind and accept what I have to say for face value. Put this to the test and see if things don’t happen for the better.  

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

  The best thing that you can do for yourself, sweetheart, is to know who you are. I know you well enough, Alhannah, to know that you're going to balk at this. Don't. You have yet to take the time and make the effort, the true effort, to discover who you are. You’re more than you realize. This takes time and extraordinary circumstances to uncover and discover for yourself.   The reason I stress this so much is that it’s the foundation of your existence.   Alhannah, you must know and understand your place, your heart, your mind––you're very worth as a woman and warrior. You have a tendency, a belief, that you need outside sources to confirm your value…and that's wrong. You don’t. It's not that it wouldn't be wonderful, but the opinions of others can't be the foundation of your world. Not if you want to reach your full potential. Your life has to be based on who you are––and to be a compliment and the helpmate to others.   Friends, family, it’s all the same.   The most damning word I have ever heard used is “compromise”. The word is improperly used so often. Yes, compromise means to come to an agreement or a concession with another, so common ground can be created. However, too often it is applied to principles, which should never be compromised! Knowing who you are and what you stand for allows you to live without compromising your principle while navigating the plethora of personalities you’ll encounter.   There is nothing wrong with changing your views according to new knowledge and information you receive, but you should never compromise the principles you live by. The challenge then is for you to truly understand what those principles are. Once you know, not believe, not have faith, but know––you are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much simpler your life will become. When your life is based on established principles, your decisions in any given predicament will already be made.  

DON’T SETTLE

  I know I'm your father, and father's opinions only go so far, but you need to know that you are a beautiful young lady. When I say beautiful, I mean that in every definition or possibility of the word. You are also strong, both in will and in mind. That being said, my biggest fear is to have you become so anxious, so frustrated and desperate because things are not going the way you want or hope them to, that you make the wrong associations.   Never, never, NEVER settle when it comes to relationships. I don't care if he's 2'1" tall, hair black as slag oil, teeth white as snow, eyes blue as the sea and the credit account as large as Philbert Bellows. He could turn out to be an egotistical, chauvinistic, dirtbag without scruples or conscience. Don't settle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a partner for a job or someone you meet through a job. Associate with gnomes that are your equal.   People don't have to be your equal in all things, and they won't be, but friendships and long-term relationships should match your intellect, your heart, your desires, and convictions. Everyone has value, but not everyone has the same value––it doesn't make a person better or worse or less than you, but it could mean that they are less compatible.   The key is if you will want any relationship to last, look for those with similar values and beliefs.  

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN

You're not one to hold your tongue Alhannah, but that doesn't mean you speak from the heart. This will always be a burden to you if you don't overcome it. There are dangers to speaking your mind and in speaking your heart. Dangers, disappointments, and heartache, but you have to build a life on what can be, not based on fear. Learn to say what you truly mean, so that others can understand you.   It took a long time for me to understand this with your mother. We had different definitions for the same words, which caused a lot of confusion early on in our marriage. I had the same problem with Morty Teedlebaum. Making the effort, to be honest, and open with one another, not unkind, not blunt to the point of rudeness, but open and willing to explain our definitions to one another, allowed us to communicate. Over time we learned one another's individual languages. In the case with your mother, we discovered our language of love. Mine was to show your mother through my actions, through gifts and attending to her needs, where your mother expressed her heart through her speech and being physically close to me.   By understanding this about one another and remaining open, asking patiently and softly for clarification when confused, we grew closer every day. That’s what other people missed—it’s not that we didn’t have disagreements or have misunderstandings, but we worked everything out in a loving and respectful way. I spent more time holding her hand and cuddling, leaving her notes when she least expected it. Your mother, on the other hand, became ever attentive to the small details of my life. Listening to my excitement with work, helping me organize my files and artifacts. It was heaven.   The same principles apply to friendships or any relationship, both personal and business.   The male species will never truly understand the female species, unless, through patience, we work together. That’s what I learned through twenty-two years of marriage. We cannot read your minds as much as you wish we could, nor are we able to discern the subtle hints you make. My counsel to you, my dear, for your sake and for that of those you associate with, is to say exactly what you mean and to mean exactly what you say.  

The Night Grammy Slapped Me

I’ll never forget what happened right after I proposed to your mother.   I was so excited because it hadn't been more than a week after having my fingers bitten off, that I felt the urge to ask your mother to marry me. To her, of course, it seems awfully sudden––but for me, well, I'd been in love with her for years, waiting patiently for her to notice me.   It was a long weekend, and because I was doing so much work for the government, I was away most of the time. It didn't make any sense for me to try and find a location to live, shelling out money for a home I didn't use—so I still lived with papa.   It was over dinner.   Your mother was supposed to come over and eat with us, but she had an assignment to complete.   I'm sitting at the table, laughing over the silly joke your papa told––something about fungus and the underwear of a Therrin. Your grandmother comes out, carrying a platter of mushrooms and beats from the garden and I said aloud “I proposed to Sylvia, and she said YES!”   Without warning, your grandmother's hand whipped out and slapped me across the face!   My mother, who had rarely raised her VOICE, had actually struck me!!   “What did you do that for?” I asked.   “Did you ask her father's permission?” she asked.   I looked at her curiously and I have to say, I was utterly confused. Your papa on the other hand, who has always been the strong role model for me, sat there in silence, eating his mushrooms. He didn't even bother to look up at me. My mother, on the other hand, stood over me like a volcano ready to erupt.   Not sure what to say, I replied, “Why would I do that?”   My mother proved to me that night that the national quick draw competition had nothing on this old bird. Her hand whipped out a second time, faster than I could blink and slapped me so hard my head spun.   “OW!” I yelled, “what was THAT for?”   Shaking her head, she said, “Curious Luckyfeller, I certainly hope you will rectify this?”   My father looked up and nodded without a word. That was all I ever got from my own mother, bless her heart. However, it was that night that I heard, for the very first time, the proper etiquette of family government. I had no clue that it was expected of me, not out of law, but out of respect and honor for our family. To go through the proper channels and ask for your mother's hand in marriage.   My father and I talked through the night until breakfast. He shared important rules for a gnome to live by. I think that it's important to share these with you. My hope here, Alhannah, is that you will use them to judge the worthiness of the gnomes around you. These are the very same rules and beliefs that I live by and built our family by.   My father taught me that nothing should be desired more in a family, than peace, love, and union. He said that these are essential happiness and it has been my experience that he was absolutely correct. But in order to have these desirable objects, my father recommended that I observed the following rules––many of which you will recognize as I relate them.   RULE ONE: If I decided to be a husband and to secure a helpmate, I should find that right person or “The One”, by BEING that one, first. I needed to be a good person, able to govern myself. He said that if I could not govern myself, I certainly could not govern a family. I was in to give my life in service to others. For by serving others I would develop the personality worthy of a good companion.   RULE TWO: Next, I was told to use wisdom in the choice of a wife. He stressed this for a specific reason. The male species tends to look wholly at the beauty of the countenance, of the splendor of the apparel and are drawn by the artful smiles, and the affected modesty of females. You are not immune to this, Alhannah. You are more lovely than you realize and gnomes see this. But, papa cautioned, all of these, without genuine virtues, were like dew drops just before the sunrise. They glitter, just for a moment in the sun, dazzling our eyes and then vanish.   Instead, he said, look for a kind an amiable disposition; for unaffected modesty; industrious habits and sterling virtue; for honesty, integrity, truthfulness, and cleanliness of person and apparel. He said to look for skills, to assist in your lives together and for cheerfulness, patience, stability of character, and above all––the genuine ability to control and govern their every thought and deed.   Alhannah, can you see how your mother fit that list so perfectly? She was disciplined and skilled, intelligent and wise––with the kindness and love and patience so deep, I have never seen it equal.   RULE THREE: Papa said that since I had found your mother, possessing these very qualifications, I should seek to obtain her lawfully and honorably through the Council of her father.   It was only then that I realized why my mother had slapped me. I never knew it was my duty or respectful, to approach your grandfather and ask for his permission. I’d never heard any of this, but my desire to do what was right, to formally ask to court and marry his daughter made a HUGE difference.   Luckily, my adventures with your uncle Chuck and Dax proved to be the greatest assistance in winning the approval of your grandfather. Visiting lower Humär, I was fortunate enough to attend a ritual of betrothal. Prince Molimau had been courting a local chieftain's daughter and was preparing to ask for her hand in marriage. Chuck pointed out that custom in the islands of the southern seas it is to bestow a gift unto the father. The young man is seeking a blessing. In this case, Prince Molimau had an offering of 20 goats and 12 cows, which he gave to the chieftain.   When I explained my intentions to your mother, to talk with her father. She went home over the weekend and arranged the meeting.   I was invited over to their home. We had a simple dinner, mostly in silence. Your grandfather retired to his study without a word, pouring over the intricate watches and clocks of his trade. What I knew, however, was his little known passion for exotic races and customs of the world. It was my ace up the sleeve. This came to my attention only weeks previous, through my own father, who had heard the request for a rare book on island cultures while in Boltbottom Books.   It was a lovely evening––spending time with your mother and my soon-to-be mother-in-law, but your grandfather never called me to his study. I was about to go home, when your mother marched in to the study and reminded your grandfather that I had come over to speak with him in private. He quickly called me in.   The talk was a short one. I have to admit, honestly, I was terrified. Your grandfather was a very large man and it's hard not to shake in your boots when a 2'6" gnome towers over you. But I stood my ground, spoke respectfully and asked for your mother's hand in marriage. What your grandfather wasn’t expecting, was an offering.   I didn’t have goats or cows, but I had spent the previous night hunched over the kitchen table, drawing a collection of cartoon cows. Each bovine was actively engaged in an island custom or tradition, such as a fire dance or slap dance. Nine cows and a sketch of a burger on a grill in an envelope.   The reaction was unexpected. Your grandfather burst out in laughter, which grew louder with each cartoon he looked at. Before the meeting was over, he gave me his word that he would seriously consider my proposal and discuss it with his wife.   The very next day, during lunch time, your mother burst into pap’s shop, screaming, “HE SAID YES––HE SAID YES––HE SAID YES!!” Then she stopped herself, slapped a hand over her mouth, and whispered, “But you can't know that. I'm supposed to bring you to my father.”   So I can witness that this rule or law is for good reason, and I have maintained, to this day, a wonderful relationship with your grandparents.   RULE FOUR: Papa stressed how important it is not to betray the confidence of others. There are many ideas that an affectionate, confiding spouse, or even a friend, may wish to communicate with you––but would be very unwilling to have them communicated to others. Keep the secrets of those close to you.   RULE FIVE: Never speak of the faults of those close to you to others. In doing so you speak against yourself. Nonone is perfect, so you should never speak of imperfections to another. By doing so, you will not only injure yourself in your friend or spouses estimation, but they will expect that you will speak against them when they are not around. This will weaken any confidence in you and sow division in your relationship.   If you must tell someone about their faults, always do so in private, and always in the spirit of kindness and love.   RULE SIX: Avoid anger and a fretful, peevish disposition in your relationships. Papa said this is specifically in your own family. If you allow yourself to be overcome by a hasty spirit, using harsh words, you will sour the feelings of others against you and most likely beget its likeness return.   It was here that my father gave me the wisest counsel concerning these rules. He said to do my very best to keep the right, loving spirit within me, a gentle disposition and to avoid finding fault with every trifling error that I might see. Not just in my life, but in my children. He said that this would discourage my family and that my children would begin to think that it was impossible to please me. Even worse, that you would all become indifferent to me, and wish for my absence.   I hope that has never been the case.   Rule Seven: You should always use impartiality as far as circumstances will allow. Let your love and your kindness abound towards all. Though it may be hard, you must use your own judgment in regard to your duties in relation to others––never to be swayed by feelings over principle, including your own. Don't decide hastily on partial evidence. Weigh everything in open light to avoid becoming unjustly prejudiced. Again, everyone has imperfections and weaknesses, each growing and learning at a different rate.   Be patient.   When your mother and I were about to get married, she called me into a side room. We were all dressed up, ready to meet the guests, ready to stand in front of the priest, and she said, “We need to talk.”   I'm thinking, NOW? We are about to get married, then runoff for honeymoon…and you want to talk about something NOW?   What your mother explained to me was something I will never forget.   She expressed her devotion and dedication to who she really was and to the principles that she lived by. You see Alhannah, your mother had two simple goals. She wanted five children. Five! It's what she always wanted, but had to set that goal and dream aside because she couldn't find The One. The other goal was to be a mother. You're old enough to remember how dedicated she was, how much time she spent with you and your brother. She made me promise that after she had our first child, that I would care for the family…and she would never have to work again. The military hated me for this and even her parents disagreed, but she didn't care. That was her dream, and I kept my word.   It’s one of the great regrets I have—when your mother accepted that last job from N.E.R.D.S., which claimed her life. The one time she, herself, made an exception...   That’s how I met your mother, sweetheart. All the trials and patience I experienced to secure her love.   One last thing.   As I was preparing to write to you, I found a set of old letters your mother had written. Some were to me…some of our correspondence, but I found something else.   Next time you come to see me, I’ll give you the original.   For now, just enjoy.
          My Little Dumpling,
  I know you wanted to come with me this time.
  I’m sorry I had to leave you behind, but I’ll be home soon.
  The world isn’t always a nice place for the little people. So I promise you, after this last trip, I’ll never leave you again. I’ll be the warrior-mommy and you can be my Dumpling.
  Your job, until I get home, is to obey daddy and to protect Green.
  Alhannah, I am so proud of you. You’re growing so fast and I just know that you’re going to surprise everyone and become the most amazing warrior-princess. When I get home tomorrow, we’ll dress up in our blue jumpsuits and battle the bad guys together.
  Just mom and her little girl.
  Love You.
Always and Forever,
  Mommy
      I love you also, Alhannah.
Please be safe.
  Dad

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