February 22, 2014

Soldier who wrote book of wisdom for his sons

Cancer-stricken soldier who wrote book of advice for his sons after he'd gone dies after battle with disease

A Minnesota soldier who wrote poignantly of his life and of his battle with cancer after an illustrious military career in a book of letters addressed to his sons has died at 41.  Army Lieutenant Colonel Mark Weber wrote the widely lauded Tell My Sons: A Father’s Last Letters to his three boys after learning he had stage IV gastrointestinal cancer three years ago.

His saga began at the young age of 38 just before the decorated soldier was to serve as a military advisor in the Afghani Parliament. Upon his diagnosis, Lt. Col. Weber decided to pen a letter to his three sons to pass along the wisdom that life as a military hero had taught him.  The national bestseller detailed Weber’s difficult childhood as well as his battle with cancer. It is based on decades of the soldier’s journals, starting from before his children were even born.
The book is comprised of nine letters in total, all designed to help his sons and any other reader through their life’s journey. Amazingly, the self-published book quickly sold 10,000 copies.  It was then picked up by big name publisher Ballantine and became a New York Times National Bestseller.

As his success as a writer quickly began to parallel his success in the military, Weber continued his fight to stay with the family his book makes clear he dearly loved. Told in 2010 he had only four months to live, Weber held on until Thursday, when family members in St. Paul say ‘Mark’s wish to die at home, embraced by love, and a view of his beloved garden was granted to him.’

On Memorial Day, Weber was strong enough to address thousands gathered for ceremonies at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.  But soon after he was moved into hospice care.  Weber was featured in the Father’s Day issue of Parade Magazine just days after his death, in which he wrote about his relationship with his own father.

‘When I think about my own mixed emotions and imperfect memories of my dad, I do wonder what you all will remember about me,’ wrote Weber. ‘This is a timeless consideration that is best illustrated by a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”’
Posted by Jill Fallon at February 22, 2014 3:43 PM | Permalink