Raising Cole: Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy: A Father's Story


"This book is a roadmap for parents seeking to create a lasting relationship that can withstand the storms of life."

-Bestselling Author Max Lucado

Marc Pittman, one of 16 children, is the son of a dirt-poor farmer who remains to this day the only man to ever knock Marc unconscious.

But when he had a son, Marc became the father he had always wanted to have.
When seven-year-old Cole asked him about beer, Marc ...

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Raising Cole: Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy: A Father's Story

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"This book is a roadmap for parents seeking to create a lasting relationship that can withstand the storms of life."

-Bestselling Author Max Lucado

Marc Pittman, one of 16 children, is the son of a dirt-poor farmer who remains to this day the only man to ever knock Marc unconscious.

But when he had a son, Marc became the father he had always wanted to have.
When seven-year-old Cole asked him about beer, Marc Pittman put down his can and never drank again. He told his boys everything, and they were honest with him in return. They unburdened their fears; told him their dreams; and even admitted their sins. Despite the fact that his sons were star football players,
they felt no shame in holding their father's hand in public. People told him he was lucky to have the relationship he did with his children, but Marc Pittman knew the truth-it wasn't luck, he worked at it every day.

And then his eldest son, Cole, was killed in a traffic accident on the way to football practice at the University of Texas. This book is the story not just of how Marc Pittman dealt with this tragedy, but of the 21 years he lived with Cole and the lessons he learned about being a good father, a good friend,
and a good man.

"A must read...Marc Pittman crosses the boundary and stigma of the tough guy and shows that while being very tough, you can also be very compassionate. This book will make you appreciate not every hour, but every second you spend with someone you love."

-Mark Gastineau, former Pro Bowl defensive end, New York Jets

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780757302022
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Pages: 156
  • Sales rank: 417,582

Meet the Author

Marc Pittman is the owner of a construction firm in Shreveport, LA where he lives with his wife Annette and his son Chase, a freshman football player at the University of Texas. He dedicates much of his time to speaking locally and nationally about his relationship with his sons.

Mark Wangrin is a senior write at the San Antonio Express-News covering Texas sports. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, and many other publications.

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Read an Excerpt

My Son, My Son, My Son

Nineteen months after we married, on January 26, 1980, I fulfilled what I thought I was brought in this world to do. Actually, Judy did the hard part, enduring eighteen hours of labor without any painkillers to bear our ten-pound, eight-ounce son, but at the time I felt the credit was all mine.

I held my boy in my hands in the labor and delivery room at Natchitoches Parish Hospital and said, ôMy son, my son, my son,ö a song of awe and reverence. I thought those were the most profound words anybody had ever uttered. I still feel that way, although I know now millions of people had uttered them before me, and a few million more since.
My brother Edward had already named his son Edward Pittman III so I was unable to honor my father that way, but I knew another man whose name was well worth carrying.

When I was nineteen I played in some area basketball leagues. Through those games I met a young man who was basketball coach at Glenbrook Christian Academy. Jerry Brandon, whom everyone called ôThe Blond Bomber,ö was a tall, lean former player only a year or two removed from Louisiana Tech. One time when we played his team, he was late getting to the gym. We were up by what seemed like forty points before he arrived. But when he walked in, the team responded to him, played harder and wound up beating us. He had an uncanny knack of relating to the kids, knowing how to push their buttons. They simply idolized him. I did too.

I was so insecure and so taken by his ability to be such a tremendous father figure that I decided then and there that when I had a boy I would name him after Jerry Brandon. When our first son was born I talked it over with Judy, and we decided to name him Brandon Cole Pittman.

A few years after Cole was born, I heard Jerry had been killed in a one-car accident near Minden. Jerry left behind a three-year-old son and a wife who was seven months pregnant. He would have been a fantastic father, IÆm sure. He, not I, was the kind of man I wanted my son to be like.

I set my sights on providing for my family, just as my daddy had done. That meant a roof over their heads, food on the table and, when events required, a whipping for my boy. The price for that meant working long hours, though unlike my daddy I was making good money. I didnÆt need to work so much, at least not in a monetary sense.

For the next year-and-a-half I worked eighteen hours a day at my job as a millwright and precious little at being a father. Work was my excuse for not spending time with my son. I left the loving to his mother, who had plenty of love to spare. IÆd smile at him and pat him on his little blond head. Love him? Yeah, I loved him like my daddy had loved me. Just like my daddy had loved me.

When I looked at Cole, as we called him, I didnÆt see a little boy wanting a father to show him love and affection, like I had secretly wanted my daddy to show me. Cole wanted that, of course, just as all little boys do, but what I saw was a pain I didnÆt want to revisit. The less time I could spend with him the better, because I knew the more I was around him the closer IÆd get. I was scared, deathly scared, that IÆd lose him. Sure as IÆd get close to the boy, heÆd die just like my daddy did.

Even with the money we were making, Judy and I hit hard times. We overreached and built a nice house, but interest rates soared from 10.5 to over 20 percent, and we were in a bind. We couldnÆt sell the house, but couldnÆt afford to keep it. We lost everything.

My financial bottom line wasnÆt the only one that showed a net loss. Self-esteem was still a problem, and I still reacted to those insecurities by not taking any guff from anyone. If I couldnÆt feel good about myself emotionally or spiritually through interactions with other people, IÆd at least get the physical satisfaction of beating them up.

When Cole was a toddler, I was still helping build that paper mill in Campti, Louisiana. Like at any other work site, there was a rivalry between the construction crew and the mill crew. Each side had its designated tough guy. I was the construction crewÆs hooking bull. Whenever a challenge came up, I was expected to settle it. Some mill worker would say something, one of my construction buddies would take offense, and the next thing you knew weÆd be hunched over a table, arm-wrestling for an eight-hundred-dollar, winner-take-all pot.

One day I was headed into work when I stopped for coffee at a little restaurant near the mill that was a favorite hangout of the workers, the Little Chief CafT. Some of the mill crew and their tough guy, a black fellow who ran the supply room where the construction workers signed out magnetic drills, saws, whatever equipment we needed, were sitting around. I starting razzing him about something, I canÆt even remember what. It was something we had done hundreds of times before, and I thought this time was no different. But the man was hurting inside, racked by family problems. His marriage was falling apart, and when I verbally pushed him, he did more than push back.

ôIf you come outside,ö he said, his voice cracking, ôIÆll kill you.ö

He went outside and headed for his truck. I wasnÆt going to back down.

I followed him out.

The guy pulled a .38-caliber revolver out from under the driverÆs seat. Tears welled in his eyes, and his hands were shaking as he pointed it at my head.

IÆd been in that situation before. First you get an adrenaline rush, the feeling that you just may be fixing to die. Then you feel like youÆre going to wet your pants, but that feeling quickly passes. You donÆt want to die like that, showing fear. You want to die like a man.

ôYou have three choices,ö I said sternly. ôYou can shoot me. You can drive off. Or IÆll have to take it away from you.ö
Sobbing, he lowered the gun, tossed it back in his truck and drove off.

I stood there, feeling foolish and lucky and mortal. I realized I didnÆt want to die like a man just yet. I didnÆt want to die, period. I thought of my son, how he depended on me. I thought of what my father meant to me and what a father means to a boy.

A few days later, I was at home when I looked up to see my eighteen-month-old boy toddling around a corner. Cole was a dressed in a tiny taupe jogging suit with green stripes down the side, a huge guileless smile on his face, and all his innocence and needs and wants registered at once. My son, my son, my son sounded pretty hollow to me right then.

I have to be a daddy to this boy, I thought. In my heart I knew I already had the secret to being a good daddy. All the repressed feelings and hopes I had about what I wanted my daddy to say to me, how I wanted a hug or nod or kind word, just came bubbling up. I would be the kind of daddy I always wanted to have.

It didnÆt take long to realize that the epiphany was the easy part.For nearly all my life, I was secure in an underlying belief that fate would have me father two sons. For almost as long, I had steeled myself against the prospect of having any kind of close relationship with them. Changing my thought process, thinking of their needs and wants instead of mine, would take work. I was used to hard work, but this job would also take time and patience. It may have been the hardest thing IÆve ever done.

I wanted to be the kind of father I had wanted to have. I had wanted a father who would show me and tell me he loved me. I had wanted a father I could talk to. I had wanted a father who would discipline me when I needed it, build me up when I was low and reel me in if I went too far.

Now I just had to figure out how to make myself into that father. I quit my job and convinced Judy that if we moved back to Minden everything would be okay. We were still struggling financially, trying to pay for a house we had started building and werenÆt even able to live in. Fortunately, Judy was able to land a job as director of nursing at a Winnfield nursing home, which included the use of a house. We struck a deal with the mortgage holder of the house weÆd bought near Natchitoches that weÆd pay them off when we were able to sell. They agreed, and we moved to Minden.

Cole became my shadow. I took him everywhere, except when I was on my new job as foreman of a construction crew. If I went hunting, he rode on my back. If I was working around the house, he was right there beside me.Working.

When he was two years old, I taught him how to stand up in the driverÆs seat of our Jeep, strapped a seat belt around him and taught him to hold the wheel steady as we pulled a big float wagon. HeÆd drive it through the field as I loaded hay on the wagon, daring him to run over a bale.At first it was the work that bonded us, just as it did my daddy and me. My daddy had never told me he loved me and certainly had never kissed me. My relationship with Cole was starting out the same way, and I assumed that was pretty much the way it was between fathers and sons. We had what at the time seemed to be the perfect basis for a relationship. I needed somebody to help me around the house. He was always right there underneath my feet. So I just used him. Worked him like a slave.I could tell he enjoyed being around me, and I loved the time we spent together. When his friends and cousins were around, instead of playing with them he would rather stay with me, even if I was cutting firewood or plowing. No matter what I was doing, heÆd rather stay with me than play with his friends. Watching him made me reflect on how I had felt about getting my daddyÆs approval. So I began to pat him on the head and hug his neck. More and more I began to kiss him and tell him how proud I was of him. Those were the things I had wanted my dad to do so badly. The more I patted his head, hugged his neck, kissed his lips, the more he wanted to do things for me and show me he loved me.

I was hooked.

¬2004. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Raising Cole: Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy: A Father's Story by Marc Pittman with Mark Wangrin. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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Table of Contents

Foreword viii
Introduction ix
Part I
1 Embracing the Pain 7
2 Learning to Lose 13
3 Man Was Born to Die 19
4 Lost Along the Way 25
5 My Son, My Son, My Son 31
6 Taketh and Giveth 39
7 Dead Man's Talk 49
8 The Bears We Wrestle 63
9 Learning to Care 73
10 Love Wars 80
11 Learning to Let Go 89
12 Every Child Is Different 100
13 Learning to Love 110
14 If You Had Two Final Days 119
15 Left Behind 126
Part II
16 "How Many Saturdays?" 143
17 Tributes 150
18 God Shows Up 156
19 "All You Need to Say" 164
20 Forty-Four for Forty-Four 170
21 I Love You So Much 183
Acknowledgments 195
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 19, 2009

    Raising Cole

    I purchased this book for my husband for Father's Day. He is not an avid reader. He finished it within a few days and a few times it brought him to tears. He took it to work one day and was telling a co-worker about it and he asked if he could borrow it. My husband loved the book. I plan on reading it before he borrows it out. A definite A+!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2005

    Unbelievable Book!!! Incredible Read

    I just finished this incredible book. It is wonderful story of a family and love shared between a father and two sons. A few comments: (1) this book is a fascinating, loving and gut-wrenching story of a father's love for his sons and the subsequent loss of one his eldest son. You will laugh, you will cry and your heart will ache for this family. Even though at times, it is a tough read in that I closed the book with tears streaming down my cheek, it is a MUST read for every parent. As a new father of a little girl, it made me think of how I want my relationship with her to develop. I told her every day, before I read this book, that I love her. Now I tell her I love her sooooooo much and that I want her to always feel that love and know she can talk to me. Yes, I say this to my 16 month old because I want to get in the practice of saying that to her for the rest of my life. This book helped visualize what I want my relationship with her to look like. (2) For every tough macho man in this world, this is a must read book. This is a book about two stud football players at the University of Texas and about a father who wrestled a bear and won. Yet, they showed their love for each other every day through words, hugs, hand holding, and yes even kissing. Man, was that refreshing. For so long we have had this stigma of men not being able to show their feelings. Then you see this family, each male over 6 ft, 200+ pounds of masculinity and yet they constantly showed the world their bond and their love. Wives and mothers should buy this book to give their husbands to show them how open and loving a relationship with their children can be. Men should buy this book too see how one can be strong, macho and yet openly affectionate. Lastly, this book makes you appreciate the moment, right now. One never knows when someone they love gets in a car or on a plane or walks down the street if they will see that person again. Life is wonderful and precious yet fragile. This book reminds you to NEVER left things unsaid. Well, I hope I haven't rambled. I was just so moved by this book. Thank you Marc Pittman for sharing your story! Screven Watson Tallahassee, Florida

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    Transcends Sports, a book about Life

    'Raising Cole' exposed to me my own shortcomings as a father. I didn't realize how much more was possible with my children. What we have is what I have settled for. Marc Pittman didn't settle for just being a good parent. He invested his time, and his life in his two boys. He fostered an atmosphere of trust with Cole and Chase Pittman in which they could tell their father anything at any time. And boy, did they. Marc says that he heard things at times that made his heart swell with pride, while other times made it sink through his stomach. As painful as it may be to hear, do you really want to be in the dark about events in your child's life? I had a less than perfect upbringing. My father was prone to bouts of rage which left me cowering under my bed at times. His attendance at my little league baseball games ended before the first game was over. He never saw people stand and cheer his son run track as a 13 year old. Since we only lived about 100 yards from the stadium, he probably had to turn up the television volume to drown out the crowd noise. 'Raising Cole' will forever change your idea of what is possible in the parent/child relationship. But if you want to be that kind of father/mother, you'll need the same kind of rock steady foundation in your own life that Marc Pittman had. By myself, being that kind of dad for my children in good and bad times would be impossible. I found the missing piece in my life in God's Word, The Bible. I'm 46 years old, which means I've seen more days already than are in my future, in all probability. I'm in good shape, but what does that mean? The Bible says we're not guaranteed the next breath. I think I've learned to live every day like there is no tomorrow. Marc and Cole Pittman did, which means you'll never leave anything unsaid between you and those you love. I knew something was missing in me trying to tell you about what Cole Pittman's story has meant. So I loaded up my car, and drove the sixty-some odd miles to Dubberly, Louisiana. I stopped in town at the local diner, and asked directions to Fellowship Cemetary. Five minutes later, I was walking through the gate. It wasn't hard to find Cole. He has a beautiful monument. I opened my Bible, and began to read. I don't recall the passages, but I do recall the feeling of peace. It's your turn. Take the challenge to be more than you were before 'Raising Cole' entered your life. My thanks to Cole. You have truly rocked my world.

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    Posted May 3, 2010

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