“We can disagree without being disagreeable” was one of the things my dad said that always stuck with me.
If he was still alive, he’d be 106.
Ed Burke left this life about 12 years ago after growing up in the Bronx, fighting in WW II in the Navy, moving to Florida, making a living as a plumber, and finding his passion as the mayor of the village of Biscayne Park for over 25 years.
While doing some COVID-19 house cleaning, I found this letter he wrote for me in 1988, just before my senior year in college.
I can’t remember what my issue was at the time that triggered his response, but it appears it was probably about a boy or some other disappointment. Whatever the reason, finding it now feels like a divine message across dimensions.
For many of us who have lost things this past year, we may be at a crossroads. I’m sharing this letter because the timeless wisdom may have a message for more readers than just me.
My dad, Ed Burke, on July 16, 1988:
The only way to resolve your present problem is to find the root of the problem and eliminate the cause. This may not be an easy job, but it can be done. You always had a natural talent to take charge of things and to influence the actions of others.
Every day is a new day and your opportunity to make the most of it. You have 50, 60, 70 years still ahead of you, so don’t worry about yesterday.
The problem you had over the weekend will probably happen again and again and when it does, try to say, so be it. As sure as the sun rises, the day will come when you will build a strong productive partnership and have an honest and open relationship with someone.
I was surprised to hear you say last night “I have no talent.” Don’t ever underestimate yourself. You have brains, courage, and looks, which are a winning combination. Do not lose that innate desire and natural talent you have.
This could be your last year in college. Please give it your best shot. I think you will agree that the time has come to put first things first and for you to select a road map for the future and that you make every effort to stay on that route and eliminate areas that conflict.
I have tried to live up to being a good father in these trying times. I will always be rooting for you because even though it is not always shown, we do love you much and want you to be happy.
If you are reading this today, my message for all of us is that we are all that.
We have talents and gifts and can’t let fear or disappointment dim the light inside us. Amid any situation, we have the choice to focus more on the problem or more on the solution—trust yourself.
Sometimes we may have to say, “so be it,” but we never know what is around the corner that might be the next chapter in our life that is even more amazing than we can imagine.
Don’t underestimate yourself. Every day is a new day and your opportunity to make the most of it.