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What began as a simple tribute to honor the wisdom and love of her father became a life-altering journey for Jennifer K. Jordan, author of Fathers’ Wisdom. Recently Jordan sat down with journalist/blogger Marlan Warren to reveal her 14-year process to gather insights from fathers she believes (according to the book’s back cover) “represent humanity at its best.”
Q: Did any of the interviews surprise you?
A: All of the interviews did that. Every time I interviewed a father, I was so impressed and moved that I thought I could never meet another such fine human being. I was in awe of all the fathers and their love for their children, and their dedication to helping their families no matter what.
I was surprised when Cain Credicott spoke to me for two hours for his interview. He is extremely busy as the Editor-in-Chief of Paleo Magazine, so I didn’t think his interview would be so long.
When I listened to Bernard Sayone and Tomas Kovar talk about their experiences in the Holocaust, I was constantly amazed. I learned more about the Holocaust from interviewing them than I had in any school, book or film. Bernie and Tomas also inspired me because they now work to promote peace in the world instead of being victims of such a difficult past.
Q: How did you select the fathers?
A: I interviewed over 100 fathers, but I included 52 in the book because some of the stories were too similar. Also, I interviewed some fathers back in 2000-2002, and when I started working on the project again in 2013, I was not able to contact them. Each father had to sign a release form so that I could use his story in the book.
I looked for fathers who had a reputation for being wise, successful professionally and with their families. I also looked for people who had a service ethic for contributing to their community in addition to their family.
I asked people for referrals of wise fathers from local areas, other states and other countries. Sometimes a father whom I interviewed then referred me to other wise fathers whom he knew. I also looked for fathers who represented different professions, ethnicities, religions, races, geographic locations and family structures. Thus, I interviewed a couple of single fathers and a gay father in order to honor all voices of fatherhood. I wanted to give a snapshot of fathers’ wisdom from across the world.
Q: Are you still in touch with any of the fathers?
A: I am still in contact with some of the fathers from the book, and I’m sure that many of the fathers interviewed would come to an event featuring Fathers’ Wisdom.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect in putting this book together?
A: The hardest part of doing the book was getting release forms and essay reviews back from fathers. Many of the fathers are extremely busy and didn't have time to get things back to me right away. For instance, Congressman Alan Lowenthal would often be in Washington, D.C., so I had to wait awhile to interview him and get his release form.
One very sad situation involved one of the fathers whom I had interviewed in the early 2000s by phone when he was in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was a cross-cultural psychologist who dealt with Arab/Israeli conflict resolution. I received word that he had passed away, and I was unable to contact his family members; so I could not include his story.
When I asked him what he thought the solution was to the Middle East conflict, he replied, "Humanity has to grow up."
It was hard making cold calls asking for interviews, but I did!
Q: What was your happiest moment when you felt "Yes! This is all worth it!"?
A: I always felt it was worth it. Fourteen years ago, I felt spiritually called to write it. Every interview blessed me more than words can express. I cried after almost every one because I was so moved by what the fathers shared. They all spoke from their heart, which was amazing since most had just met me.
I’ve had great fun delivering the book to local fathers who were not able to attend the book launch. I felt like Santa. All of them were so happy to receive the book, and I felt incredible joy being able to share the book’s love and message.
I also received cards from some of the fathers. John Solheim, CEO of Ping, wrote me a letter that brought me to tears—telling me how honored he felt to be in the book. I felt so honored to have him in the book.
Q: Are you working on another book?
A: I feel called to write my children’s book on anorexia that will give a wise message of healing, loving one’s body and choosing life-giving actions.
Q: If you could choose three words to describe your own father's wisdom, what would they be?
A: Succinct, simple, sane, realistic, balanced, fun-filled, gentle, relaxed, joy-filled, promoting joy and enjoying life. I could not pick just three. I learned more from what he did and how he lived than from what he said. My father worked hard, had professional success and played a lot. He was “forever young.” And he loved my mom, brother and me.
Q: Did your father ever say or do something that you never forgot, and helped you in the making of this book?
A: “You can do the deal.” My father was no longer alive when I returned to writing the book in 2013, but he used to say that to me about doing other matters. His words gave me courage and confidence that I could finish this “deal.” I've always been tenacious, and I will continue to be so to help get the word out about this book.
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