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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
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"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
This week we are making my column available Wednesday instead of Friday.
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
November 21, 2007
Based on reader reaction, it was the most popular of the 1,343 columns which I wrote for The World-Herald, and it was also my favorite, so I enjoy returning to the language of that Thanksgiving-week column written in 1998.
Some of the numbers have changed. Marian, for example, is preparing to add to her total of more than 10 orthopedic surgical procedures with a left knee replacement and what she describes as a “touch” of rehab work on her artificial left hip in early January. And our courtship and marriage have now spanned 57 years (although Marian draws laughs when she occasionally comments, “But it’s still day to day.”) But the basic theme remains unchanged, including some good advice for husbands: Tell your wife you love her and feel blessed to have that opportunity.
So herewith the column written for publication November 29, 1998 and a subsequent column item telling of reader reaction:
As I count the blessings that are special to me this Thanksgiving season, it’s not hard to start my list: Her name is Marian, and she has blessed my life these past 48 years.
Today, her right arm suspended in a pillow-like sling following her eighth major orthopedic surgical procedure, she continues to radiate that warmth of personality and concern for others (thankfully including me!) that makes her such a remarkable person.
Marian’s reaction to her long siege of surgery tells a good deal about the upbeat way she approaches life. With a medical record that includes four artificial hip joint implants (two in each hip, need I explain?), an artificial right knee joint, rotator cuff repair and the fusing of a cervical disc, I’ve never once heard her complain. Her attitude is consistently positive, grateful for the fact that her serious involvement with osteoarthritis can be surgically addressed.
She has become something of a counselor to acquaintances with joint problems. Her consistent advice, given diplomatically but clearly, is to stop limping painfully around and consult a doctor about the possibility of surgical relief.
Marian’s resilience in the face of surgical adversity is noteworthy. She rebounds quickly, as evidenced by the fact that on her second day home after three recent days in the hospital following rotator cuff surgery, her right arm in a sling, she served me left-hand-scrambled eggs for breakfast while trying to take charge of the allocation of our tickets for the Colorado-Nebraska football game.
(I know there are readers out there who have demonstrated - - or who have loved ones who have demonstrated - - courage and grace in the face of physical adversity over a period of years. In telling Marian’s story, I would hope to indicate my admiration for all those individuals whose stories would make compelling reading if I were in a position to report them.)
Marian’s friends and I could cite countless examples of her genuine interest in other people, their lives and their problems. A typical example:
Late one evening I heard Marian on the phone discussing an airline ticket reservation with a United Airlines employee in Denver. It seemed to me the conversation was taking longer than should be necessary to make a reservation. I figured out what had happened when I heard Marian say something like:
“Well, it’s certainly been nice talking with you. And I hope your mother gets to feeling better real soon.”
Marian’s memory for names and dates - - especially people-related dates like birthdays - - continues to astound me after all these years.
A recent example: I was on a mid-November golfing trip with the Fairfield brothers, Terry and Bill.
Marian said to be sure to wish the Fairfields a happy birthday. She had remembered that they were born, two years apart, on the same day of the year, Nov. 30. (I’ll leave it to Bill or Terry to tell you which is the older.)
It is this genuine interest in others that, I believe, has led Marian to work so hard on behalf of so many civic causes dedicated to helping others - - whether they be students at the University of Nebraska or recipients of the various services the American Red Cross and United Way of the Midlands provide to people in need.
Marian’s civic service was well summarized by Loretta Carroll of KMTV when Marian was recognized as one of KMTV’s Women of Mid-America. Carroll said of Marian:
“Marian Andersen…who has shown again and again that women of ability and determination can make great contributions to society. As chairman of the National Search Committee, Marian recruited Elizabeth Dole to serve as president of the American Red Cross, and she co-founded the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of United Way. Marian’s numerous leadership roles have brought such events as Shakespeare on the Green to thousands in our community. If there was a glass ceiling standing in her way, Marian Andersen simply ignored it, or broke through it, becoming the first woman to head the University of Nebraska Foundation and the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross.”
On the occasion of Marian’s 60th birthday, I prepared a special card in the form of an “Honorary Degree of Doctor of Friendship and Concern for Others.” Half light-heartedly and half seriously, I listed these among Marian’s achievements worthy of special recognition:
“Exhibiting the good judgment to pursue and capture a Scandinavian-American for her husband.
“Adding immeasurably to the clinical experience - - and the income - - of a wide spectrum of members of the medical profession, including (but not limited to) three orthopedic surgeons, a plastic surgeon, two internal medicine specialists and anesthesiologists and radiologists beyond count.
“Educating countless listeners (some of them even interested listeners) in the strategic intricacies and the statistics, as well as the personalities involved, in a wide range of competitive athletics.
“Finding time in the midst of all her other activities (civic duties, visits to hospital emergency rooms and doctors offices and all the rest) to be a splendid wife and mother. (The fact that during her tenure as president of the Omaha Junior League, she temporarily forgot the names of her two children and on several occasions neglected to chill her husband’s martini glass was considered by the family to be a forgivable departure from the norm.)
“Doing all of these things with an unfailing sense of good humor and a warmth of personality and friendship based on a genuine interest in the lives and welfare of others, thereby touching many lives in a most positive way.”
“Touching many lives in a most positive way,” including especially, of course, my life and that of our children, Dave and Nancy. What better words to suggest why my list of blessings this Thanksgiving season starts with the name Marian.
* * *
I should give credit to the late Jim Murray, superb sports columnist of the Los Angeles times, and to the editors of the Times for prompting me to write today’s column. After Murray’s recent death, the Times republished several of his most memorable columns. One was a very moving tribute to his wife, written shortly after her death. The column ended with the thought of what Murray had intended to tell his wife on the 39th wedding anniversary, which they never reached. Murray wrote:
“I had my speech all ready. I was going to look into her brown eyes and tell her something I should have long ago. I was going to tell her, ‘It was a privilege just to have known you.’ I never got to say it.”
I decided I would write the column you are reading today, making sure that Marian is here to read the sentiments I am proud to share with my readers.
Incidentally, Marian’s favorite among the get-well messages that came her way this past week: The cover page of the card advises, “Sit back, relax, let people wait on you.
Turn the page and you read: “In other words, act like a man.”
Two weeks later, I reported the reaction, which was the greatest response to any column that I have written:
Several friends and fellow husbands passed along comments like this from my brother-in-law Chuck Battey, Jr. of Kansas City, Kan., who said the column “makes it awfully hard on the rest of us.” But like the other husbands who commented in this vein, Chuck added that he thought the column was a well-merited tribute to a wonderful wife.
The calls and letters included messages from four or five wives who said the column moved them to tears. One husband wrote that his wife had “started to read your column aloud to me, but could not finish it. She was crying.”
Another friend said his wife had shown him the column, which he described as “a wonderful love song.” Then he summarized my feelings about as well as I could have done: “She is a grand, brave, gracious woman, and you are a lucky man.”
Three husbands wrote to express thanks for, as one of them said, “a great reminder to all the rest of us to tell our loved ones how much we care, as often as we possibly can.”
If the column had produced no other result than this “great reminder,” it was well worth the writing, I believe.
I have a simple bottom-line position - - one which I think a great many Omahans would share - - in the continuing debate over how we recruit more minority group members and women into Omaha police and fire department ranks:
Put public safety emphatically ahead of the “diversity” issue. When Omahans need police and firefighters to protect their safety and their lives, I don’t think very many of them prefer anything but the most able, best qualified pesons that the city can recruit - - white, black, brown, male or female.
Making large numbers of additional job applicants available in the pool from which police and fire chiefs can make their selections is, it seems clear, simply a way of instituting an “affirmative action” program without calling it that.
Instead of lowering the standards in the name of “diversity,” it seems to me a better course would be to start some sort of pre-employment training academy which could work to bring less qualified but potentially trainable applicants up to what should be rigorous standards when it comes to the employment of police officers and firefighters on whom citizens’ lives may depend.
When he or she can remain anonymous, a critic’s courage - - and outrage - - very frequently know no bounds.
That truism is frequently demonstrated in letters and phone calls which come my way. I don’t mean to diminish the pleasure which such critics derive from their anonymous barbs, but I do think it appropriate to tell them that the opinions of people who don’t have the courage to identify themselves get little or no attention from me, except when they give me a good laugh. For example:
A recent caller who didn’t give his name described me as a “tool of the right wing.” Still, this anonymous critic said, he’ll keep reading “your stupid columns for humorous content” and closed with: “Goodbye, jerk.”
I also frequently am amused - - or puzzled - - by criticism from readers who give their names, as in the case of a reader who criticized comments which he said “reveal, once again, your ultra-conservative Bush-supportive position on just about everything.”
This reader must not have read my account of leaving the Republican Party and registering as an Independent because I was fed up with the influence which the religious right has on President Bush on such matters as stem cell research and his approval of legislation which substituted congressional judgment - - and Bush’s judgment - - for that of doctors on the issue of the partial-birth abortion medical procedure.
If my comments in these matters could by any stretch of the imagination be considered “Bush-supporting,” I suspect that Bush would be glad to get along without such “support.”
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