Questions for Bruce Feiler on Council of Dads
Q: A Council of Dads is a very original response to receiving a cancer diagnosis. What brought you to this idea of leaving a legacy of voices for your daughters?
A: My daughters had just turned three when I first learned I was sick. I instantly imagined all the moments from their lives I would miss: The ballet recitals I wouldn't see, the boyfriends I wouldn't scowl at, the aisles I wouldn't walk down. Mostly I worried that my girls would miss my voice. Three days later I awoke with a thought, "Here's a way to help my daughters know their father. Reach out to the men who helped make me who I am, and ask them to convey a different message to my girls: How to travel, how to live, how to dream."
Q: How did the Dads react when you invited them to join your Council?
A: The conversations were some of the most meaningful I’ve ever had. It made me realize how rare it is to sit down with your friends and tell them what they really mean to you. I think every one of them cried. Even more remarkable was how seriously they took their roles. Overnight they became a meaningful presence in the girls' lives--a new figure that was different from family, deeper than a friend.
Q: What does your wife think of the Council? Did she help build it?
A: The whole experience brought us closer and deepened Linda's relationship with the men. One reason is that if the Council ever needed to convene for its original purpose Linda would be the one who would have to orchestrate it. But more than that, having a Council created a new kind of community in our lives and gave her a window into how men relate to their friends. The experience was so powerful she's now created her own Council of Moms.
Q: Can anyone create a Council? What advice would you give someone who wants to create their own Council of Dads or Council of Moms?
A: I’ve been amazed by how this idea has spread so quickly. It seems nearly every parent has thought at one time or another about not seeing their kids grow up. I've been especially touched that divorced parents, single moms, military families--so many different people have asked for tips. Some people who lost a parent when they were younger are making Councils retroactively. I decided to set up a website, councilofdads.com, which has a tool kit and a mini-social network where you can communicate with your Council privately.
Q: How are you feeling these days? And what role does the Council play in your life now?
A: Nearly two years after I was diagnosed, I am now cancer-free, though like any survivor I get scanned every few months. (I keep an ongoing cancer diary at brucefeiler.com.) But no matter what happens, our Council will continue. It's the most uplifting community we've ever created; it helps us through adversity; and it reminds us every day to celebrate the friendships we are blessed to have.
The Feiler Family
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From Publishers Weekly
In 2008, bestselling author Feiler (Walking the Bible) learned he had a rare, life-threatening tumor in his left leg. Fearing what his absence would do to the lives of his young daughters, Feiler asked six close friends ("Men who know my voice") to help raise them. Feiler chronicles his battle with cancer, from diagnosis to recovery, as well as his sentimental but moving journey to recruit friends who can carry out his wish to teach his daughters to travel, dream, and live life to its fullest. Feiler's intimate bond with his friends makes them unusually expressive and communicative (if lacking in humor), and their own biographies lend further inspirational dimensions to the story. Though his letters to friends and family can get ornate ("The Brooklyn Bridge...is looking fresh-faced and handsome overhead, its famed promenade glittering like the pot of gold at the end of a long journey to come"), it's hard not to get swept along and cheer Feiler on as he fights for his life and his daughters'.
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