After my column has had time to run in your family newspaper, I usually post it the following week on Facebook.
Many, if not most, of my social media friends do not subscribe to a newspaper. For the record, I would not share it on Facebook if one of my papers complained.
However, a recent Facebook query wanted to know how long I'd been pursuing the writing habit and the author obviously thought it was a retirement hobby, or something like that.
The truth of the matter is that "Points East" has been in one or more newspapers for 40 years this month. Add impromptu news releases and specials from the late 1960s, throughout the 1970s and I can claim that I have been publishing for more than 50 years. I've never made a living at creative writing, historical reminiscing and storytelling, but it has financed many fishing trips over the years and provided a lot of income that I could not have, otherwise, disposed of.
Actually, I've spent most of my professional career writing in one capacity or another, but I'm talking about the difference between stuff to do for fun and detailed, researched, grant proposals with subsequent reporting requirements that are not much fun at all and usually require late night deadlines and last minute rushes to FedEx or UPS drop boxes.
Time management has never been my strong suit.
There are far better and safer ways to get adrenalin rushes.
On the other hand, there are few things more gratifying to me than having readers say they enjoyed something I had written or a photograph I had shot and published. I realize it's largely ego gratification, but everybody has one, whether they admit it or not.
I am also fully aware of the fact that "self brag is half scandal," but I can't seem to help myself.
At this writing, the column has run well over 2,000 times, amassed more than 140,000 words and accumulated nearly 3,000 pages of verbosity. Readers often tell me they wish I'd publish them in books, but I could not put my hands on them no sooner than I could spread my wings and fly. The Sentinel Echo is the only place that might possibly have every copy in their archives. The Mount Vernon Signal may have all of them dating back to late 1986.
In any event, I am not physically able to do anything about it at this late date nor would I even think about having Loretta help me. I'd have been a goner more than a decade ago if my wife had not persisted in keeping me alive.
I have no idea where she finds the strength and patience to do it. It has to be love and I had no idea that human love could be this unselfish. She spends far more time taking care of me than she does on herself or the rest of our family combined.
Still, I wonder how much longer I am going to be able to churn out the column. It does take my mind off the consistent, practically unbearable pain. As recently as a decade ago, I could crank it out in a couple or three hours. Now it takes days of one sentence at a time.
At least, when I finish, I feel like I've accomplished something and I suppose there's something positive to be said for that.
In the meantime, I'm doing all I can to make sure the health care industry does not go broke.