“The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch seemed to mysteriously appear among my books one day. I remember packing up all the books from the home I had rented for five years and unpacking the boxes in my very first apartment. I was thrilled to finally live in a place that legally belonged to me. The book seemed to be a bonus from the universe, a welcome gift for a momentous occasion.
While many have watched the lecture on youtube, I read the book first. I shared the book with DQ when she was fourteen, not sure if it was too morbid or too preachy. She read it like many of my other recommendations. And I know it made an impression on her.
Why do I like the book?
- Randy’s gratitude and humility
“I won the parent lottery,” he says right at the beginning, grateful for his luck at being born to his parents and their impact on his life.
One particular line that DQ often paraphrases, taking a dig at me, is something Randy’s mother says after he gets his Ph.D., “This is my son. He’s a doctor, but not the kind who helps people.”
- Randy’s intense desire to influence his students and his children
When DQ pushes back after I repeat the same instructions or advice ten thousand times, I feel like giving up.
Then I quote from the book –“When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.”
I want her to know I will not give up on her. Ever.
- Randy’s faith in humanity
Some days it seems that everything I do is wrong – nothing seems to bring about the desired result, no one seems to care. At such times, Randy’s words help.
If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you. Almost everybody has a good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out.
To me, the book serves as a reminder that I don’t have to wait till the end to figure out the lessons from my life.
By examining my life as it happens and writing it down, I am trying to leave behind a legacy for my children after I am gone. It is my way of doing what Randy emphasized: Kids- more than anything else-need to know their parents love them. Their parents don’t have to be alive for that to happen.