Sunday, January 22, 2006

Raising Cole, by Marc Pittman with Mark Wangrin

Raising Cole: Developing Life’s Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life’s Greatest Tragedy: A Father’s Story, by Marc Pittman with Mark Wangrin

This was a very difficult book to read. Not because of complicated sentence structure or an unnecessarily large vocabulary, but because of raw emotion. Cole Pittman was a football player at the University of Texas that was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel of his truck in 2001. His father wrote this story, describing both the amazingly close relationship they shared and the aftermath of his death. It is honest and poignant; I’ll admit I was literally brought to tears while reading the last couple of chapters. The main message of this the author tries to impart is simply to not leave anything unsaid. If you were to die tomorrow, are you sure that everyone you love knows that you love them? A hard question. I probably still haven’t come to terms with my fathers death a few years ago, and this brought a lot of those emotions back. There was too much unsaid between us when my dad died. I am the type to keep my feelings largely to myself; this book helped me to see I need to change that somehow.

The Pittman family uses two interesting concepts to maintain their unusually close relationships: Love Wars and Dead Man’s Talk. Love Wars are simply trying to outdo each other with gestures of affection, like driving 10 hours simply to meet for lunch. Dead Man’s Talk represents no-tell confessions, like talking to a dead man: “A dead man couldn’t repeat what was said. It would not make him angry or stick in his craw. It wouldn’t change an opinion or influence a friendship. It would be said, and it would disappear forever like a breath on a cold night.” Love Wars is a concept I grok and will certainly be using in my life. Dead Man’s Talk is more opaque to me, though; once a meaningful fact is known I don’t see how it can possibly not affect a relationship. Clearly it worked for Marc and Cole Pittman, though.

First Sentence:
It’s been more than three years since I buried my oldest son in the red Louisiana dirt near Minden.

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