My benchmark has always been what people say about you when you die. I wrote In Memoriams back in the ’70s up in a small town in Ontario. I was suprised how short these were: “Sam Richardson, beloved husband of Ruth and father to Sarah, George and Cissy and six grandchildren. He worked at the Caterpillar plant for 46 years and is remembered by his co-workers as always kind and considerate to everyone.” I never wrote anything that had to do with accomplishments, except one man who had survived the concentration camps after Dieppe. One woman wrote me recently, upset at a comment I made on this topic. “You marry, raise your kids, feed them, give them a good education, job done.” We’re so busy doing the “normal” things, we simply expect someone else to come up with any innovations. We don’t mind Bill Gates being rich if he gives us software that makes our lives easier. I remember looking at a history of our family, how they opened hospitals, changed farming practices—one even crowned Queen Victoria. I can’t imagine them doing all those things and me simply being a guy who worked somewhere and was considered by co-workers as “kind and considerate.” Surely I owe it to the family before me to try harder and leave some kind of mark.

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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