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Greg Vaughn, with Fred Holmes
Integrity Publishers
Family Relationships
ISBN: 1591453429

Greg Vaughn had never been close with his dad. So after his dad died and Vaughn was cleaning out the garage, he was surprised at the depth of his grief. "The only thing I had left from my dad was an old tackle box and silence." He continues, "I remember crying out to God, 'This is it? This is all I get? I don't even have my father's signature!' "

That garage moment set in motion Vaughn's growing nationwide movement to encourage men to write periodic letters to their children --- and wives and parents --- leaving a legacy of blessing, affirmation, and love. BR>
The book essentially explains how to set about writing letters, complete with sample letters, a table of contents listing topics that letters might address over time, and writing tips from a college professor. Vaughn suggests that letters include three elements: praise, hope and vision for the future, and assurance of loving commitment.

But it also has an unfolding plot with multiple characters, explaining how Vaughn gathered a dozen men to join him in his initial, tentative venture. They met monthly for four months, agreeing to write and then read to the group letters they'd written --- first to wives, then to children, then to parents, living or dead, and finally a letter on the order of a final testament: "If our friends who've passed away had been able to speak at their own funerals, I wonder what they would've said. Have you ever thought about that? What would you say if you could speak at your own funeral?"

You see the men interested in the letter-writing concept but clueless as to what to say or how to start. You see the reactions of wives and children when they receive their first letters, presented, according to Vaughn's schema, in wooden boxes with engraved nameplates. You see glimpses into Vaughn's own blended family. You see the birth of a church-based course called "Letters from Dad."

On one level the book is a promotional piece for Vaughn's ministry, but it should not be discounted on that count. It is an inspiring and encouraging tool in its own right. Its breezy tone, airy design, and short (four-page) chapters make the venture accessible even to reluctant participants. It would make a great gift for any father but especially those looking for some tangible way to connect with their children and those who are facing their own mortality and need to feel that they will be remembered after their passing.

As for leaving markable legacies, every chapter of LETTERS FROM DAD begins with a page of feel-good, multigenerational family photos that create nostalgia and interest. But the people are never identified. It seems most --- but not all --- are Vaughn's own family. It makes one wonder: Who are those guys?

   --- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence

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