A Father’s Farewell

With his life drawing to a close, Randy Pausch reveals in an interview and a book excerpt what matters most.

By Jesse Kornbluth from Reader's Digest | May 2008

RD: William Wordsworth wrote, “Our souls have sight of that immortal sea/which brought us hither.” Do you have any intimations of immortality?
Pausch: Not in a personal or existential sense. In a professional capacity, through the Alice Project, millions of kids will learn to program computers and have fun. That’s what my career was all about-doing hard things and having fun doing them. Alice can be a legacy. And it was nice to get 10,000 e-mails saying, “Your lecture bettered my life.”

RD: I was telling a friend about you. She asked, “Where do people find the courage?” I felt her answer was contained in her question: People don’t have the courage, they find it. What do you think?
Pausch: I don’t get that what I’ve done has been in any way courageous. I have met people who were so much braver. Sometimes I’m struck by the fact that I’m leaving three kids-and then I see a guy down the hall with five. As for what I said in the last lecture at Carnegie Mellon, a lot of people would have said that. They just didn’t have the good fortune to be a professional lecturer.

You sound like the dying Lou Gehrig, when he said farewell to his fans and fellow players in Yankee Stadium and called himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Pausch: I am the luckiest. It rips my heart that my kids won’t have a dad. But it’s not the years. It’s the mileage. I wouldn’t choose to die at 47, but I’ve had a hell of a life.

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