Tag Archives: Carl Sagan


Rules adults, children...and politicians should know and follow are in this book.  (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Rules adults, children…and politicians should know and follow are in this book. (All photos by Marylin Warner)


Kindergarten teacher Mary Shepherd (3rd from left, back row) in 1944

Kindergarten teacher Mary Shepherd (3rd from left, back row) in 1944.  An added note: Beth, my cousin in Georgia–her picture playing the flute is in the post “Keepers of Memories” — and she told me she is the girl second from the left end on the first row! But she wasn’t in my mother’s class! For Beth’s funny story, read her comment at the end of the post.

Dear Mom,

Author and astrophysicist Carl Sagan wrote, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”   Robert Fulghum, a Unitarian minister, simplified what we really need to know in his successful 1988 book, ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things.

The book grew out of  Fulghum’s speech at a primary school celebration where Senator Dan Evans happened to be in the audience. Evans was so moved by the basic truths in the speech that it was eventually read into the Congressional Record.  Major newspapers picked it up, and the rest was history.

Fulghum’s basic premise is that the wise rules needed to develop successful children and adults (and politicians, too, obviously) are found not in hallowed halls…but in sandboxes and on the playgrounds of life.  Here are a few of Fulghum’s short, simple and honest rules: Clean up your own mess…Don’t take things that aren’t yours…Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…Wash your hands before you eat…Flush.

I bought Fulghum’s book for you when it first came out, Mom. As a former kindergarten teacher, you applauded the basic life truths, and you told me stories from the classroom, from teaching Sunday school and substituting in elementary classrooms…and also funny (and sometimes embarrassing) stories from when David and I were children.

That was many years ago. Now, as you lie in your bed after hip surgery, you don’t remember your stories or the successes you had raising your own children and helping other children. But I remember many of the stories, which is why I write this blog, so your great-grandchildren (and others) will know some of the many good things you did that made a difference.

It’s October now, Mom, and I remember one of your basic rules from this time of year:  When someone has raked a pile of leaves and you jump in it, afterwards be sure you rake it up again.  (Remember how we used to burn our piles of leaves–with you and Dad supervising, of course– and how wonderful the scent was on chilly autumn evenings?)

Here are some of your other “Basic Wisdom” rules I remember:  Eat an apple—or at least some slices—every day… When someone says mean things to you, the best way to get over it is to say nice things to someone else… When you borrow something, return it in better condition than it was… It’s better to take birthday treats for the whole class than to have a full birthday party and invite only some of the class but leave out others.

Mom, thanks to you and Robert Fulghum for teaching us the basic rules that everyone should follow to make the world a better place.

Maybe our blog friends will share some basic rules they learned! 

Ray and Mary's great-grandchildren making their own music.

Ray and Mary’s great-grandchildren making their own music.

Mary and Ray's children, Marylin and David, as young children.

Mary and Ray’s children, Marylin and David.

Chapman, KS elementary students learning team work.  Good job!

Chapman, KS elementary students learning team work. Good job!



Filed under autumn lessons, Chapman KS, Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, kindergarten lessons about life, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


learn in kindergard.

playground horse



Dear Mom,

Years ago, I got you the book by Robert Fulghum, ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. Your favorites from his list of the basic rules included these: Play fair, Don’t hit people, Clean up your own mess, Flush, Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody, and Share everything. (You once laughingly said that children could be counted on to share their mother’s age, chicken pox, and bad words. I think you were adding to an Erma Bombeck list with some of your own.)

Robert Fulghum shared his favorite information in his book, and everyone who read it learned something. I was thinking about that when I recently came across this quote by Carl Sagan: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” If we combine and paraphrase Fulghum and Sagan, we have this inspiration: Somewhere, something basic and honest is waiting to be shared with others.

So here’s an idea: why don’t you and I share our favorite quotes, and see how many of our blog buddies respond by sharing their favorite quotes? Think of all we could learn!

Okay, we’ll start with you. Because of the dementia, you probably don’t remember your favorites, but I do. One that you shared during both happy and sad times to keep things in perspective is from Ecclesiastes 3:11—“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…”

One of my favorite quotes is a touching reminder of all those who’ve gone before us and made a difference in who we are. It’s by Native American writer Linda Hogan: “Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”

And now, Mom, we’ll wait for our blog friends to comment or share their favorite quotes. You taught me this: everyone has something to share, and we can all learn from each other.

Molly's yarn and clay Indian wall hanging.

Molly’s yarn and clay Indian wall hanging.

Pottery plate from Taos, NM(all photos by Marylin Warner)

Pottery plate from Taos, NM
(all photos by Marylin Warner)


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations