a letter to my grandchildren on the first day of school (and all kids…)

September 3, 2019. The long hot summer is over (the vacation part, not the “hot”), people are drifting back to their homes from parts unknown, the hurricane season is heating up, and this morning our Richmond grandchildren boarded the bus and headed to school, where David entered 2nd grade and Beks is close behind heading into 1st. Of course we have three grandchildren now. Mr. T. over in Germany is just three and a half weeks old but he’ll be off to school before we know it.

So this letter will enter the archives as the first addressed to all three.

“Dear Grands”:

Naomi and David

Dear wonderful grands. Did you know that you are among the most fortunate and blessed children in this world? Blessed because like all children you are a uniquely loved child of God; fortunate because you have access to the kind of life the majority of your peers will never see.

  • You have clean water, in good supply.
  • You have enough food to eat – a balanced, healthy diet.
  • You have electricity, air-conditioning, and heat.
  • You have a home to live in and you don’t have to share with another family, or two, or even more.
  • Not only that but you have your very own bedrooms.
  • Your home is safe, too, as well as your neighborhood, and your parents can take you to church without being worried that someone will tell the police or they will lose their jobs or go to jail.
Rebekah Playing uke with Beks

In all of these things you are special and blessed and fortunate and tens of millions of other children wish they could have this opportunity.

And we haven’t even started to talk about school. Imagine those children your age, countless millions, with their noses pressed to the window of your classroom hardly believing what they can see. The electricity, the desks, the books, the pencils and paper, the art supplies, the computers, the shiny floors, the cafeteria, the media center, the nice bathrooms, the air-conditioning… and so much more.

They will see the clean clothes you are wearing, the new shoes, the nice backpacks, and the cool lunch-boxes, the P.E. teacher, the water-fountains, the music teacher, and the school nurse. Then at the end of the day they will gasp when they see all the bright yellow school-buses lined up to take you safely home again.

There will be tears:

And then those millions of children will cry. They might cry because they want so much to be able to go to a school like yours and to learn so much… and they might cry because they see how many of the children here in America don’t even begin to understand how good, and fortunate, and blessed they are – and they will cry for what a shame it is when we take it for granted, or refuse the gift of education, or fail to learn and grow when we have the opportunity.

I am so thankful:

Me reading to Beks – pets watching

And I am so thankful that we can be here to encourage you and to know your beautiful minds and to love your beautiful spirits and to watch you grow.

You are packed full-to-bursting with giftedness and potential. And this world, this world teeming with conflict and injustice and poverty and neglect and regret, is waiting for you to learn enough and to be loved enough to graduate from school and then university so you can be leaders in its healing and reconciliation.

Of course you have started that good work already. You are already balm to broken hearts and inspiration to tired souls.

And you are so loved.

So off you go, then, to school and to learn and to give smiles and hugs and blessings to The Big Wide World. We can only watch and pray.

In love, and because of love – your Grandaddy Derek



  1. Beautiful letter to your grandchildren. The best part is this can be passed on to their children, grandchildren, their great grandchildren, and you will always be a part of their lives. Blessing to you and your family. I will share this with all of my nieces and nephews.


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