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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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September 17, 2007 | 1 Comment

Just a note to say your column that opens with Pavarotti and works its way toward parenthood was really fine. As a father of two (23 and 17), I am right there with you when you talk about the "night thoughts" and the other terrors of being a father. All of that vulnerability is temporarily offset by moments of sheer joy, such as when I meet my son's bus after a cross-country meet. Diesel exhaust swirls in the September night. I watch him moving window to window as he files to the front of the bus. How'd my kid get that big? Once in the car, it's just the two of us, one on one, and on the dark ride home he breaks down the race for me — how he pushed himself, when he made his move, every little thing. Has no idea how much this means to me.

Thanks for your column.

Sam C.

A lovely slice of life, Sam, and thanks. The real reason for sports: it gives people some common ground to talk about. I went to a girls' volleyball tournament in Rochester last fall (which inspired a Lake Wobegon story) and found it so moving to see the fathers and how avidly they were paying attention and the pride of the girls. Such an utterly common part of American life, right? But not part of mine. My son got into music and it was rocknroll of a sort that wasn't easy for a parent to listen to (that was the point, surely), just as I, when I was his age, wrote poetry of a sort that my parents found aggravating. My wife grew up in a family of classical musicians and that drew them together somewhat. But writing was my way of separating myself from others. My father would have loved me to play a sport, and I did not — for an accidental combination of reasons, being a bus kid and lacking confidence and then failing a physical exam on account of a heart defect — and so he and I never had those sweet moments in the car. Our moments were silent and I could feel his disapproval. It sounds worse than it is, actually. And if I imagine myself at 17 running cross-country and riding home with Dad and telling him about the race, I somehow imagine myself going to college and majoring in history and becoming a high-school teacher, which he also would have liked, and staying in the Sanctified Brethren. This would have left you, Sam, with the obligation to start a radio show, called the "Superior Home Companion" and that would be fine with me. I would listen to it now and then and admire you for your gumption.

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I am a (surprised) new mother again at 38. I came home from an ECFE class today where I am the oldest one there by at least 10 years. I picked up and read yesterday's Old Scout column and just cried. Just cried and cried.

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