Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Last Lecture

After more than 6 months, I have finally finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch!! HOORAY!!! Since it's a pretty small book, both in dimensions and thickness, you may be surprised to know that I actually did "enjoy" this book. I say "enjoy" because it was, frankly, a bit depressing (part of the reason it took me so long). The beginning was honestly a little slow and it took me a while to get into it, but the 2nd half of the book flew by. For those of you who don't know about this book, it was written by a professor from Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given months to live. Carnegie Mellon has a series of speeches every summer (I think?) given by professors who pretend as if they know they are going to die and this is their last lecture. Pausch decided this was the perfect opportunity to really give his last lecture, which he did ... and then expanded on that to write this book.

The very sad part in all of this is that he is/was a father ... to 3 young children, ages 6, 3, and 18 months. The similarity in this to my own family (ages 6, 3 in March and 6 months) made the book as a whole very hard to get through. I just couldn't stop relating and wondering "what if this was me/Andrew?" To an extent, I think all parents can relate, but the fact that this would be me/Andrew NOW, made it that much more real and my heart ache that much more.

I do admire Pausch for his efforts to leave his children a legacy showing them his love and care for them when he can't. I also admire his optimism and acceptance of life and things he cannot change - his willingness to make the best of a bad situation, even when the situation is so very bad. Realizing that the middle child may have little to no memory of him and the certainty that his youngest won't remember him at all, accompanied by reading of his efforts to combat that with making many home videos of them playing together so that they could grow up and see that he DID know them, DID relate with them, loved them, enjoyed them, laughed with them, helped them ... brought tears to my eyes and does still.

So, this book is kinda a downer, I'm not gonna lie. But he does provide some of his greatest life lessons and did live a life worth reading about. I hope that I can leave such a legacy for my own children to look on and learn from after I'm gone. But whether I do or don't, I'm thankful for our God who does and will guide, love, protect and provide for them while I am here to witness it and even more in my absence, whenever that may be.

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