On Sept. 3, 2012, James K. Flanagan of West Long Branch, N.J., died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He wrote this letter to his five grandchildren just months earlier and it is reprinted here with the permission of his daughter Rachel Creighton.
Dear Ryan, Conor, Brendan, Charlie, and Mary Catherine,
My wise and thoughtful daughter Rachel urged me to write down some advice for you, the important things that I have learned about life. I am beginning this on 8 April 2012, the eve of my 72nd birthday.
1. Each one of you is a wonderful gift of God both to your family and to all the world. Remember it always, especially when the cold winds of doubt and discouragement fall upon your life.