I used to tell my creative writing students to pick a subject, to stay focused and to resist throwing in what I call “the whole kitchen sink.” Today I’m breaking my own rule, and this column will be all over the place.
First, an explanation for my two-week absence from the News-Times. When my long-time editor, Steve Card, said he and wife, Teri, were taking a two-week vacation to visit their new grandbaby, I sent Steve word that I needed to take time off for personal business. That email got lost in cyberspace.
When no column appeared, or a notice to readers, my phone started ringing and emails came rolling in. I heard from many local folks, some I’ve never met, and from friends I’ve known for over 50 years, all of whom follow this column.
Most people were just worried, but a few actually thought I had died. I don’t think they were joking, and it has certainly been an interesting experience. It started off being upsetting and frustrating, but turned upbeat when a friend from California called to make sure I was okay, and we had a great catch-up conversation.
Then someone who knows I love almost all genres of music sent a YouTube video of Willie Nelson singing a song called “I Woke Up Still Not Dead Again Today.” I have been a fan of Willie Nelson forever, and it’s nice knowing he is even older than me — still alive and kicking. The video is so funny, with Willie waking up in bed singing, hopping around, playing poker and being foolish, which all of us seasoned citizens need to be on occasion. Yes, Willie is wearing a marijuana T-shirt, but that’s beside the point. The point is I’m back, my editor is back, and all is well.
But now I’m turning serious because one of my youngest readers wrote asking for some wisdom in what to say to people who have lost a loved one. (To me, anyone in their 50s is young. Remember when you were 12 and 50 was ancient?) I told her to watch for the next column because her question inspired me.
Here are some things I’ve learned about grief. The following five words are really blunt, but spot on. The words are not mine, but that of a minister (Rick Warren) in a sermon about grief. He said the best thing is to just “show up and shut up!” Here is my list of advice based on personal experience:
First of all, show up if you can and open your arms for a hug — but make sure it’s welcome. Some people are touchy about their personal space. Resist saying “It’s for the best,” “God needed another angel,” “You are still young and can have another baby” (those words were said to me and still hold painful memories), “You will feel better soon,” “You will meet someone else and start a new life,” “He/she is no longer in pain,” “He/she is now at peace,” or “Time heals.”
Now, since I mentioned the kitchen sink and not being as old as Willie Nelson, here are a few funnies to leave you smiling.
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Old is When…
Old is when your sweetie says, “Let’s go upstairs and make love,” and you say, “Honey, I can’t do both.”
Old is when your friends compliment you on your new alligator shoes, and you are barefoot.
Old is when a sexy babe catches your fancy and your pacemaker opens the garage door.
One way to find out if you are old is to fall down in front of a lot of people. If they laugh, you’re still young. If they panic and start running to help, you’re old!
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Yep, I’m back, with appreciation to all of you who called or wrote. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling being missed.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to the Rotary International Foundation, is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]