Picks and Pans Review: Wisdom of Our Fathers
Big Russ & Me, Tim Russert's '04 memoir, prompted thousands to send him notes about their own dads; those stories are the heart of his new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers. Here, Russert and his only child, Luke, 20, discuss their bond.
IS YOUR PARENTING DIFFERENT FROM BIG RUSS'S?
Tim: My dad worked two jobs, as a truck driver and sanitation man; we didn't sit and talk because he was working so hard. I was blessed with my job; at 3 o'clock I could say to the NBC news desk, 'I'm going to Luke's game, call me if you need me.'
WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE ABOUT YOUR DAD?
Luke: His integrity. He is a man of honor. He really is a man of the people. He came from an Irish middle-class background and never forgot that.
WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE THAT YOU'VE GIVEN LUKE?
Tim: You are always loved but not entitled. Success takes hard work.
HAS LUKE EVER REALLY SURPRISED YOU?
Tim: At Christmas '04 Maureen [Orth, his wife], said, "I think he has a tattoo," which I thought I'd talked him out of. I called Luke and he came in with his arms by his side. I told him to raise his arms and he resisted. Then he lifted his left arm and on the side of his rib cage was a very tiny "TJR"—Dad's initials and my initials. He said after he read Big Russ that "I always wanted you and grandpa on my side." We cried and I said, "That's the nicest tattoo I ever saw."
WHAT KIND OF PARENT WILL YOU BE?
Luke: I think I'll be a good dad. I'll take the lessons my grandpa and dad gave me and use them.