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While battling cancer, APSU prof pens special ‘Love Letter' to daughters and grandchildren

After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, an Austin Peay State University professor used his time away from work, not only for treatment, but also to write a wisdom-filled love letter to those whose love has created the best of who I am.

Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy, is the respected author of four scholarly books, three of which deal with the worlds major religionsChristianity, Judaism and Islam.
After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, an Austin Peay State University professor used his time away from work, not only for treatment, but also to write a wisdom-filled love letter to those “whose love has created the best of who I am.”

Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy, is the respected author of four scholarly books, three of which deal with the world's major religionsChristianity, Judaism and Islam.

But his most recent work, “Reflections of the Heart: A Love Letter to My Daughters, Granddaughter and Grandson,” is possibly the most spiritual, springing as it did from his very soul at a time when he had become acutely aware of the fragility of life.

Although this last “love letter” is the most poignant, it is not the first time Randall has penned a special piece for his daughters. Written in 1992-93, the first manuscript was titled “Reflections of the Heart: A Father's Loving Meditations on Kahlil Gibran's ‘The Prophet.'”

The Dedication said: “To Jaimie Nan and Alicia June: You are the incarnations of our love and our dreams, and our ‘living arrows' sent forth into the future.”

Years later the birth of grandchildren, Shelby and Jace, a new and loving relationship within the family and Randall's travels abroad that took him away from his family for months all came together to spur him to write a new edition of “Reflections of the Heart.” After that, he thought his work on it was completed.

But in September 2007, Randall was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma of the stomach, an aggressive form of cancer. He began several rounds of chemotherapy. Always slender and lanky, the professor became weak and gaunt from the chemobut his spirit was as strong as ever.

Randall said, “During the first few months of therapy, uncertain about whether the chemotherapy would be able to destroy the tumor, uncertain about how long I would live, one truth became the center of my life: Love is infinitely more powerful than death. Even if my life were to end within a year, it would be ungrateful, selfish and cowardly to whine or complain. My life is outstandingly blessed.

“As paradoxical as it may seem, the cancer and the length and nature of its treatment have been a spiritual blessing.”

As Randall was recuperating from the cancer and the chemo, he turned again to “Reflections of the Heart,” feeling as if life had provided him with new insights he wanted to pass along to his loved ones.

He said, “I continue to learn from my experiences and relationships--marriage, children, friendship, love, passion, hope, pain, self-knowledge, prayer, beauty, faith and deaththe same experiences that Kahlil Gilbran shared with millions in his small but spiritually rich collection of prophetic-poetic insights in ‘The Prophet.'”

Although “Reflections of the Heart” was written as a gift to his loved ones, Randall's two daughters are encouraging him to publish it, so he says he is exploring the possibilities.

For more information about the manuscript, contact Randall by telephone at (931) 221-7479 or e-mail randalla@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke