The well-known English writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.” It is with great love that I write these thoughts to you and try to pass them on to you with grace. My hope is that long after I am gone, these reflections about life might be a source of strength, inspiration, and comfort to you. Through the years, as you continue to grow, you will face many challenges and perhaps these thoughts will be my way of staying connected to you.
As I have grown older, Colleen, I have realized that when life is stripped down to its very essentials, it is surprising how simple things become. Fewer and fewer things really matter, and those that do, matter a great deal more. This book is about what I think is truly important in life.
When you were younger, I used to tell you that my constant prayer was to live long enough so that “I can get you raised!” Thankfully, that prayer has been answered. But in counseling other Dads through the years, I have also discovered that parenting is a life-long process that evolves as we, and our children grow older.
When I wrote this book I was 75 but I had been thinking about and writing parts of it for the last eight years. I hope with the years comes some wisdom that I would like to share with you. I think being an older Dad has some advantages as well as disadvantages. If age gives one more experiences, then I hope that my experiences might serve as a way for me to share my life with you. That is where the wisdom comes in and I hope and pray that these reflections will allow me to share with you some of the things I have learned through the years. On the other hand, being an older Dad might limit the amount of time we have together and so these reflections are a way for me to try and stay connected to you long after I am gone.
Over the years, we have talked together about how life is full of choices. Sometimes, the choices you make will seem to be extremely important. At other times, they might seem to be insignificant. But you will find, Colleen, that each and every choice you make in life will influence the kind of person you will become. Your looks don’t matter at all. You don’t need to be good at sports. You don’t need to be popular. You need not be smarter than others. Those things are nice, useful, and pleasing. But they won’t by themselves, determine the kind of person you will be. And—they won’t make you happy. Looks change. People can sometimes treat us unfairly for no seemingly good reason. Friends come and go as our lives take us in new directions, different jobs, and far away places. Ultimately, you will discover that your happiness will flow from the kind of person you are.
As you know Colleen, there have been three major experiences that have shaped my life and therefore these reflections. The first is the 25 years I spent in the monastery. This not only gave me an unique perspective on life but it has certainly influenced many aspects of the way I see life and what I want to share with you. It is also the major reason I am an older Dad. I got a late start! I was 39 years old when I left the monastery, and it took a while for Mom to come to the States from Ireland. But that is a whole other story which you already know about.
The second thing that has greatly impacted me and how I understand life was when our son, and your brother, Andrew died when he was born. This was devastating to Mom and me and, as you know, led me to write another book called Don’t Be a Waster of Sorrows. When he died, a part of me died. That book was my attempt to make sense of his death. This experience has also had a profound influence on the way I see life.
Finally, the third thing that has greatly impacted my understanding of life has been my career as a psychotherapist for over 30 years. This was a wonderful career for me. Not only did I enjoy it very much and found it very fulfilling but I also learned a great deal about life from my clients. Over the years, I had the opportunity of working with many parents on how to best develop good parenting skills. And what I discovered with fathers was that so often they wanted to be good Dads but really didn’t have the skills to know how to do this. So, we would work on these together and in the process, I learned a great deal about life and what is important in life. So, I am now trying to share these ideas with you.
You will find, Colleen, that I use a lot of stories and examples to emphasize certain things. I hope you find these interesting and thought provoking. These reflections are freely offered to you and you are certainly free to accept or reject them. In fact, as you continue to grow, that is the beauty of you becoming your own person. You are completely unique, loved by God, Mom and me and so many other people. And as you go through the years, the Lord is forming you, shaping you to become your own unique person. These thoughts are simply offered for your reflection as a way of helping in this process. Perhaps some of these reflections will be meaningful to you now, perhaps others, later, maybe some not at all. That’s ok. That’s the way it needs to be as you make your way on your journey through life. As you read them, please don’t feel that you have to agree with all of them and please don’t feel guilty if you simply disagree with some of them. That’s ok too. I simply offer them to you with my love for your thought and reflection. Ultimately, what I would like to do is to “take nothing for granted, receive everything with gratitude and pass everything on to you with grace.”
Praise for Walking Each Other Home
“Walking Each Other Home is [Dr. Wilcox’s] best yet, describing a path for a successful life. Though written for his family, his giving nature courageously shares his life experiences with us. This book is like the acorn he describes; with study and challenging application the reader has the opportunity to blossom into a strong oak.”
—Stuart Watson, President, Shenandoah Valley Enterprises
“This is a truly remarkable, loving and lasting gift from a dedicated father to his daughter. A treasure for all who read it.”
—Mary Theresa Reif, Early Childhood Educator, Retired
“Deeply personal, yet universal. In Walking Each Other Home, Peter invites his daughter and his readers to love the mysteries that comprise every life, and to see our inter-connectedness. Rich in wisdom, this book deserves to be read and reread over the course of a lifetime.”
—Kathy Haynes, Scientist
“Walking Each Other Home is a heartfelt and precious gift from a father to his only daughter. Peter Wilcox has woven together his thirty years of counseling experience and his experience as a father into a simple, but elegant roadmap for obtaining a meaningful life.”
—Michael P. Wall, Psychotherapy and Organizational Practice Owner
“Dr. Wilcox’s sagacious viewpoints and insightful personal anecdotes provide the reader with the essential foundation needed to cope with the dichotomies and struggles of life in a positive and benevolent manner.”
—Raul Acosta, United States Naval Academy Blue and Gold Information Officer
About the Author
Dr. Peter C. Wilcox is the founder, and former director of the Severna Park Professional Counseling Center, Millersville, MD. Before recently retiring, he was a practicing psychotherapist and spiritual director for 30+ years. Dr. Wilcox was also Assistant Professor at the Washington Theological Union and President of the Faculty Senate, Adjunct Professor in the graduate program in pastoral counseling, Loyola University, Columbia, MD and Adjunct Professor of theology, St. Bonaventure University, Olean, NY. Dr. Wilcox lives with his wife, Margaret, in Aiken, South Carolina.