Friday, November 4, 2011

Tom Watson's "Man Shoes"

By the time he was five, Tom Watson had lived in 13 foster homes. His mother had been unable to care for him; an aunt and uncle turned the one-year-old over to foster care. Part of what he experienced was horrific child abuse – when he was three.

The thirteenth foster family was an older couple in their 50s, with grown children. They loved him unconditionally; they loved him in spite of his troublemaking youth; and they loved him into becoming a fine man.

Watson’s Man Shoes is Tom’s story. But it is more than that. By not telling the story chronologically but instead by themes and lessons, Watson is telling every man’s story, or what could be every man’s story.

Each chapter is organized by a personal story and amplification of that story, followed by a summary of key lessons to apply and space to write thoughts and traditions, “traditions” meaning the reader’s own experiences and lessons. Because it is structured around a life story, the reader finds triumphs and tragedies, wonderful experiences and painful losses, having to face awful situations life the death of one’s spouse from leukemia and being left to raise two boys on one’s own.

One of the most moving chapters in the entire book is Watson’s account of the time he spends with his foster father, as Mr. Watson approaches death. It is an account of both tears and joy, one of the moving accounts of a parent dying that I’ve read.

Most of all, Man Shoes is a book of encouragement. Watson had a stroke some years ago and realized he needed to write things down for his own sons, two now grown and on their own and one approaching the end of high school. “Remember,” he says, “you’re not alone in your thoughts, in your fears, or in your uncertainty. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit that your shoes are actually bigger than you ability to fill them.”

This is a story written from a man’s heart to the hearts of other men.

Related: The book’s web site, which includes a number of resources and video and radio interviews with the author..

Note: A special thanks to Pastor Bill Grandi at Cycleguy’s Spin for bringing the book to my attention. Bill did a random giveaway for one copy of the book, and then convinced the publisher to provide copies for all of the commenters who participated.

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

This book sounds fabulous Glynn -- can women read it too? :)