I just finished reading conservative talk-show host Larry Elder’s Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives… Eight Hours–an autobiographical story of Larry’s relationship with his father, Randolph. It’s a tough, unflinching and, ultimately, a tear-inducing read, one which I finished in two days. Having listened to two incarnations of Larry’s LA-based radio show for many years, his spare, straight-forward “voice” comes through in the writing very strongly.
The life story of Randolph Elder is emblematic of an era of hardship, of poverty and overt racism. The illegitimate child of an indolent and hard-hearted mother–he never found out who his biological father was–Mr. Elder was on his own at age thirteen.
But from that time until he was well into his eighties, he worked and worked and worked–using the strong back, skilled hands and innate intelligence that God gave him. And having taken on the responsibilities of a wife and producing three sons, he made it his business to see that they had what he wasn’t given—at least financially.
But, his adversity-born hardness and determination had a drawback: he did not know how to relate to his wife and his sons on a personal level. And this very sweet story written by his famous middle son, documents the hatred his children had for their father, the confrontation between Larry and Randolph, the reconciliation, and, most importantly, the love that these two men learned to feel and express toward each other.
Some politics are in the story, but they play only an incidental role; the primary topics in this story are communication, understanding and forgiveness.
God commands that His children honor their mother and father and, I believe that the younger Mr. Elder has, through writing this story, done so. May we all be so blessed to understand and, if need be, forgive our parents.