Only one everybody should know


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Because of some family records and oral family history, our cousin has long maintained that we are related to the famous writer, Mark Twain. As some might say, that is “my only claim to fame.” But as a child, it was always a real thrill for me to tell that I was related to Mark Twin. I remember in grade school, we were reading some short story by Mark Twain and I announced to the class that I was kin to him. I had a great amount of pride as I made my announcement because it was something in my opinion. I suppose I felt that if I were really kin to him that really made me kin to Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer in some way. The teacher was impressed and I suppose the children were to some extent. Talking about seeing famous people or being kin to someone famous always makes for wonderful discussion.

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Some years ago, I found an account of my ancestor Mark Twain and this story addresses this fame business but yet calls for some complementation on a deeper level as well.

With his writings like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s notoriety began to spread literally throughout the word He was not only acclaimed in America as a great literary figure but his celebrity began to take hold even in Europe. As a result of his success, Twain traveled abroad, because his great success in writing allowed him to journey to many places around the world.

This story centered around one of his trips to Europe. On this particular occasion, he took along his little girl. The youngster was just amazed that everywhere they went, they were meant with crowds that came out to see her father. Crowds gathered at every stop to admire and catch a glimpse of her father. On this particular trip, they were even celebrated by royalty. In every city where they stopped throughout Europe, they would socialize and meet with the well-known and influential - from scientists to government officials to musicians to writers.

To his little daughter, Mark Twain was just plain “Daddy” and she had trouble understanding why everyone made such a fuss over him. She saw while on this trip how her father attracted hundreds of people, honoring him as a very important person of the day. Reports of his visits made the newspapers in the cities that he toured. Written commentaries tell about what kind of impression this trip made on the little girl. Toward the end of the long trip, she made the remark to her daddy: “Well Papa it seems that you just about know everyone in the whole wide world but God!”

I have seen in my lifetime that is possible to have scores of influential friends and associates and yet not know God. Some people are very good at “name dropping.” I suppose they feel a surge in personal self-esteem if they think others know that they are acquainted with someone important. Further, some think that if they are acquainted with those in power in government or commerce or entertainment, then those connections give them some security for the future.

Perhaps the words of Mark might be appropriate when thinking about this issue of fame and standing in this world. He wrote “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

It would be sad to make it to the peak of success in this life, have far reaching influence, be world renown, and still not know God. All that would make no difference when facing death. At last breath, what matters: worldwide recognition or a relationship with Christ?

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:

[email protected]


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