Oh, the things I could write a column about … but just can’t.
It used to be that I could bang out about 750 words or so about a few cute things my kids had done and, as a result, be met with all kinds of “nice column” fanfare while doing the next week’s grocery shopping. With a 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, however, nearly everything a father says or does is already automatically embarrassing, so imagine what they’d say about an article about them in the paper, or — OMG — on the internet?
It’s so tempting.
Gotta protect the kiddos’ right to privacy, though. After all, if my parents ever found a way to bring any of my teenage foibles into the public domain, I probably would’ve been positively aghast. I was talented enough at combining social awkwardness and athletic ineptitude solely on my own, thank you very much.
So … next subject. My mom.
As some of you readers may already know, my mom became a resident of Worthington a little more than a year ago, when my wife (Becca) and I moved her here from New York state. She couldn’t live on her own anymore, and we wanted her to have the benefits and help of nearby family. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and it has progressed markedly over the past several months.
It’s been very sad — and naturally very challenging — for all parties. But sometimes, all you can do is just let go and laugh.
Yes, I’m aware this sounds insensitive, but I can’t imagine being alone in believing that laughter is the best medicine when coping with the declining mental health of a loved one. Every time Becca or me visits her, she comes up with at least one doozy of a statement. These could, potentially, comprise a side-splitting blog entry or two, or a small coffee table book complete with a few odd illustrations to match the random thoughts.
It would be a sure-fire ticket to an afterlife filled with horror.
While I don’t necessarily find it regrettable to see whatever humor (black as it may be) can be found when it comes to Mom, sharing specific anecdotes surely would be callous and a certain recipe for terrible karma. Perhaps I would be spared in this life, but my next living form of existence would assuredly be subject to all kinds of unfathomable torture.
No, let’s leave the stories about Mom between family members and close friends. So ... another subject, please. Isn’t the opinion page a good place for a piece about politics?
Yeah, if you want to get a huge chunk of people mad at you for no really good reason.
It’s one thing to write a Globe editorial and take a stance on what we here at the newspaper perceive to be an important issue in our community, for instance. But to stick my neck out there in a personal column about my own political views, unfortunately, only risks calling my objectivity into question.
I feel I’ve got good working relationships with people of various political affiliations, and would rather continue to have those relationships grow and flourish than weaken them over personal ramblings about Republican boneheads or Democratic buffoons. After all, how many times is it said that politics often have to be cast aside to get good things done?
So … that’s subject three that’s out.
Still, life is about far more than unintentionally shaming my children, making light of my mom’s serious illness and unnecessarily ticking people off. There’s still plenty to write about … right?
Today is Aug. 14. It would be my grandfather’s 105th birthday, were he still alive. But even though he has been gone since 2010, he’s still worth celebrating.
My grandpa, Melvin McGaughey, was born in rural Nebraska, the son of a Methodist minister, and eventually made his way to Boston University and later became a preacher in his own right. He and his wife, Grace, raised five children, each of whom married and eventually divorced. Still, all in the extended and occasionally unconventional family were loved unconditionally, and Grandpa particularly continued to be an example to me by “walking the walk” in leading a good, moral Christian life. Above all, I think of him as a man who wanted peace among everyone, and for each of us to show love and respect to our neighbors no matter their differences.
So, no making fun of my kids in print or online. Keep the laughing about Mom private. Don’t provoke others, but cherish and honor them.
Those seem like good — and ideal — notions.