When I was very young, I had an older cousin, Dale Medford, who would loan me books to read. That is where I discovered the first three mainstays of my developing years.
“The Three Musketeers” showed me how people, although very different, could be friends, could enjoy each other’s company while allowing each other to lead separate lives, and that friendship was not merely a declaration, but an active state of support and protection.
“Robinson Crusoe” taught me the importance of knowledge; that you could lose everything and survival depended on what you knew. So, I became a 4‑H member and a boy scout so I could learn how to build, make clothes, kindle fires, cook, and find my way through the wilderness.
“Tarzan” had only some childhood books and a knife. He had no knowledge – just inborn instincts to keep him alive. Nature was a hard but caring parent that provided love, even among the beasts. I learned by instinct how to walk the forests with caution, but without fear — and it is among the trees that I have found some of my greatest joys in living.
Dale once gave me a brown, round rock and then showed me how to crack it open. I learned about the magic, secret jewels inside geodes.
He has long since passed, but I still send him prayers of thanks. As cousins, we shared some serious moments and some silly moments, but the mental image that remains is his smile and a feeling of being in the presence of living integrity. On a spiritual path, I learned that you have no knife, there is no solid ground to walk on, and knowledge is meaningless trivia; all you have is what you have made of your inner self.
That is the naked honesty, the type of integrity Dale taught me by the example of his life and by his gifts. Thank you, sir.