I kept having to stop while reading “Not Without My Father” by my friend Andra Watkins. I kept having to stop and think. I was thinking of my own father and other people in my life who I have taken for granted or not spent the time with that I should.
While there are quite a few good laughs in this book, it is not a bouncy rainbows and unicorns type family story. It is an honest look at a hard personal journey of discovery and connections that is mirrored through the author’s own person journey to walk the Natchez Trace. Her father accompanies her on that walk, via comfortable car of course, to guide, protect and promote her. As any dad should. But this is not so easy a relationship. Along the way old wounds are revealed and feelings left unsaid, both good and bad, are voiced. And then there is mom. Mom throws a whole different spice into the brew.
As I read “Not Without My Father” I thought about my dad. And just as importantly I thought about both my son and daughter. I had to pause to wonder what baggage I was leaving them with, and what tools as well to help them on their journey. Were the experiences I shared with my family, all of my family, what I really wanted to leave them with? And most importantly, had I been present in their lives? Was I there, paying attention, and participating?
We can’t blame all of our distractions on electronics. There have always been distractions – friends, work, reading, hobbies, golf, whatever. But the key is – do we set aside these distractions to be with those people important to us? Or maybe include the family in our hobbies so it is a time of bonding instead of separation?
But I digress away from this book. I guess that is because this is the type of book it is – a book to be read on multiple levels. You can read the story of Andra’s walk and the experiences and people, but you can also read the story of a personal journey. A journey of discovery and growth. And from there you can find lessons for your own life.
I highly recommend this book, but more so I recommend you read it and then discuss it with those important to you.