“I did it ALL for them! …really?”

Aug 19, 2016

“I did it ALL for them! …really?”


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #37
Rite of Passage Fourteen –A Journey Resumed–
1959. I am 25 years old

Q: All for them! A new job in a new country and the need to provide; all this takes time, focus and commitment. But what about the “heart felt” needs? Did you ever put achievement before family? 

Graham_Kerr_Blog_Family from Graham Kerr on Vimeo.

Surely it has not escaped your notice that recently I have taken up a good deal of mine and your time on my work related focus during the early years of marriage when youthful strength joined forces with demanding competition and the completely logical desire to provide successfully for my family.

How often have you heard the well-worn excuse when real stress makes its mark, “But, I did it all for my family!”

Well, in my case, I could have easily said just that…except it really wasn’t true!

I burned that candle at both ends because I didn’t want to fail –either for their sake or for mine but mainly mine!

I could have spent as little as a half hour a day and written a letter – Did I not have thirty minutes to spare? Of course I did, but it was filled with “what ifs” instead of what…was!

It had all begun with the Royal Ascot and being asked to take over the General Management position from my dad. Of course it was way beyond me…BUT…what a start, a General Manager at twenty-three years old…yikes!

But what a cost, absolute stress and the loss of our second child! Then came Chief Catering Advisor to an Air Force (albeit a small one). That would take five years on my way to thirty and I could close my doors at 5:30pm and we could be a family…at last!

BUT, I needed to prove myself to my new nation and so the Vice President of the Wine and Food Society; radio, television, followed by books upon books…

Guess what…no time again, always out to prove myself first as a manager, then a gourmet, a celebrity, an author…always with a head filled with “what ifs” and so seldom “what was”!

So…what about now?

On September 17, 2015 just 5 days short of our 60th wedding anniversary my beloved Treena breathed her last breath. It was for her that I have done so much…eventually but on the way I was driven for more than my family.

At times it was competition and the ever present ‘ratings’ which, when very good, were like a good housekeeping seal of approval almost stamped into my forehead!

Millions watched me worldwide but what about my family; was I really doing it ALL for them?

14 million cookbooks sold…hundreds and thousands of detailed ‘measured’ words that had to work well the first time they were used.

And my family waited and waited! How many more programs and books were needed? Well, there was a contract…an obligation to finish.

Eventually, as you may read in my book, there was a time when it was enough – a time to ‘do a small thing and do it well’ with the family I have always loved…and for whom I did a great deal…but not ALL because the rest was done for my sake and I’m deeply sorry for all those years that could have been.


There remain now the years that are and the family I have left and the memory of the extraordinary woman without whose sacrifice I may not have achieved…anything?

Graham and Treena Kerr with a few of their booksPS. This week I read Treena’s poem This Love


  1. Lynn Says: August 20, 2016 7:19 am

    Until I retired, I didn’t take the opportunity to just do things for me. In college I maintained excellent grades so live up to my boyfriend’s expectations. When married, I did everything to meet my husband’s expectations. He left when our girls were 2 and 4 years old. I worked 1 1/2 jobs to keep our house (around the corner from grandma), attend field trips (vacation time for that), took them on a few adventures though I do regret there weren’t more. Now I’m retired from 2 positions (one 33 years,, the other 31 years), am not a financial burden to my wonderful children. Instead of shorting my family, I gave up my personal life. But I look around me and have to say there are no regrets. God and many of His guardian angels have protected me on several occasions. May He continue to bless you.

  2. Don Says: August 20, 2016 8:13 am

    Graham, you’ve uplifted the world with who you are!

    That counts for a lot and I’ll bet Treena was totally prepared to share you with the world.

    You may not have given your family quantity, but I know you gave quality at the very least by your magnificent Joyful example.

    Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda is unproductive as we know and you’re sharing your past choices to help the rest of us.

    My wife, Maggie, of almost fifty years, (I’m ten years younger than you) told our kids, ‘If you won’t listen, you’ll have to feel!’

    ‘Feeling’ is the thrill of this physical existence.

    In the U.S. Navy we learned largely through OJT which is short for on the job training.

    That’s life for the most part. OJT.

    My mom was a widow for about ten years and then at 78 she met a fellow 88, fell madly in love, and then enjoyed ten delightful years married to ‘Ben’.

    As they say, ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over’.

    At 72, I love ‘doing all I can with what I’ve got from where I am’.

    The losses I’ve experience have taught me to love the world. I treat whomever I’m physically with as the most precious person in my life because they may be the last person I’m physically with.

    They call me the ‘Sing Song Man’ as I travel around to care facilities all over Skagit and Island counties conducting sing-alongs with folks, many old enough to be my parents, singing their songs, sharing the love almost every day.

    We are so impacting and powerful ‘Now – Today’. Not so much Yesterday.

    Thank you, Graham for your gentle, caring, loving spirit.

    I hope this brings you inspiration and peace!

    It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over!

  3. Kerryn Says: August 20, 2016 12:00 pm

    Graham, thanks for your constantly vulnerable sharing to give to us, so that we may live life more deliberately.
    My hubby had a dad who was a “workaholic” & was never there for the children & died in his mid 60s through stress. When we married, my dear hubby said he wanted to be there for his children, even if it meant struggling financially to do so. He’s always given of his time to be with his “boys” who are now in their mid to late 20s & attended every possible sports game or event they’ve been involved in. Every career choice had time with his boys as part of the decision process. We’ve never had much financially, yet amazingly have travelled Australia & the world with our sons & our life has been rich in so many other ways. For this I’m extremely grateful. Sometimes I think our boys love being with their dad too much, as they’re still all living with us!!! Gotta chuckle about that!

  4. Donna Reagan Says: August 20, 2016 12:58 pm

    I have a dear friend who worked very hard in the academic and performance world, often at the same time. It meant not having as much time with his family and it was hard for them to understand. I remember one of his children talking with me about it and, while she did not see the love I could–in everything he did for her and her sibs. I reminded her of that and, fortunately, could guide her to Chapman’s book about the way we each have to communicate love: The Five Love Languages. Today, they know how much love he has shown them and they are healing well. Sometimes we have to let people be who they are and love them the way they need us to love them and, always, to communicate that in the language they best understand.

  5. karl Says: August 20, 2016 2:36 pm

    Well i often ask God if it was really worth to do all the things and give up a lot for my family and others for that matter.To be very honest it deeply hurts when one gives up a lot and the ones you give up for don’t really appreciate it,or leave you to do all the “giving up” and do not do their part.But in the end of the day if we are truly followers of Christ we realize that this is exactly what God has done.He gave up his son for us and we a have not lived up to that in terms of our life.I also believe God knew this and went ahead and redeemed is anyway.
    Our fallen state is very deep and we can never live up to God’s holiness and thats where Grace will abound.
    I sacrificed and gave a lot for my career but also for my family and others will continue to do so weather it is appreciated or not as difficult as it may be sometimes

  6. Lynn Severance Says: August 21, 2016 7:38 pm

    Knowing how the “good of now” evolved for Graham out of a life once driven in ways he came to realize were detrimental to his family (and actually to his real needs) is refreshing to read. What nurtures his life presently, the family that remains and always the treasure of all that his beloved Treena gave, are experiences well worth recording here for each of us to ponder.

    I have never been one fueled by ambition although I am someone who seeks to do my best where I have been asked to serve. Not having a family, I have had the luxury to devote the time needed to the tasks at hand.It is a blessing I pray I never take for granted.

  7. Jean Says: August 23, 2016 12:20 am

    We have witnessed this same scenario with some pastors we know. “They” are so engaged in ministry to “others” that their own families are left in their wake. We have seen kids spend 24/7 in church but never just be kids doing things with “Dad”. These kids are indoctrinated in the ways of church functions yet emotionally undeveloped and even confused as to who “they” are and how to fly solo whether in ministry or not. I am also guilty of such in my career path and personal pursuits that caused me to spend way too many hours at work, or play, leaving my beloved too much alone. We did suffer a major breakdown in our relationship that opened my eyes to see that love is not expressed through with one’s success and personal development but in one’s sacrifice for another – as exemplified through Jesus Christ. “No greater love has man that he lay down his life for his friends”. Family are friends – our very best friends. However, Graham, being that you started in the military – where choices are not optional, you really had no other route to follow – so, I feel for your grief in that you are so hard on yourself. As a civilian you would have other options and choices that would have made a sweeter way for you and your family. Perhaps it was all kismet. Perhaps God’s will to develop the gifts He gave you as an extraordinary author, chef, teacher, and servant – for the world – could not have come any other way. Please forgive yourself as God has forgiven you – and I hope your family has forgiven you. “I will complete the good work I have begun in you” says the Lord. We are all so blessed by your life then and now. But yes, you are right to point out the absolute need to balance career and family.

  8. Jean Says: August 23, 2016 12:32 am

    Donna – thank you for the tip on the “Five Languages of Love”. Don – thank you for the encouraging story of your Mom remarrying. I’m 61 and having some difficulty going forward – getting closer to “over”.

  9. Gary Marcellus Says: August 23, 2016 8:28 pm

    Graham,I love how your heartfelt openness shines through your face
    Your not pretentious and full of yourself,and,have realized the vanity and selfishness which follows a man,which is easy to practice.The Lord has shown you the true things and what really matters in Life.I know you will be blameless and are sharing your raw honesty with the World,and it is truly inspiring to us,all!

  10. Graham Says: August 24, 2016 7:59 pm

    I want to add a couple more sentences to this subject, especially since you have been so open with your own stories recently.

    I call this a reflective experience, one in which we look back over our years of very personal experiences and can, with the benefit of both hindsight and humility, see the ‘error of our ways’ to the extent that sometimes we can even ‘groan’ over the decisions we made.

    The fact that we can feel such deep emotion over actions long past does not always mean that the pain is still present, especially if we have asked for forgiveness and truly felt that we had received such a blessing.

    It may well have gone but it still leaves a track in the memory that comes with warning signs to be watchful not to repeat the fault.

    It is when we share these remarkable changes with others, such as we do in these exchanges, that there exists the potential for a shared belief in a better, less harmful future…for us all.

    I shall continue to ‘groan’ with many of you and to rejoice that we share the extraordinary relief in being forgiven and desire with all our hearts to say a few words of comfort and hope to those who remain burdened by having harmed those whom they have been created to love.

  11. Jean Says: August 28, 2016 8:12 am

    Amen Graham – well said.

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