Archive for father

Back in the game

Posted in Family, Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2019 by macmystery

My first issue as editor of The Island News.

I posted something akin to this on Facebook a little more than a week ago, I guess, but I’m just getting around to posting it here.

The name of my blog is Raising Two Americans, a reference to my two kids. The subhead of sorts initially read “Tackling life as a husband, a father and a journalist.”

Funny thing is that in the almost 10 years since I started, everything about those headers has been shaken up.

I am not a husband. My wife informed me almost 5 years ago that she was no longer interested in being married. Of course, that’s no longer mentioned on the masthead above this post.

I am still a father, of course. How good of one I am, some people may call into question. But nonetheless, my children reside with their mother.

And, practically, I ceased being a journalist on Feb. 22, 2016 when I was laid off at my McClatchy newspaper. Though, in spirit, I have remained a journalist, even if I was not being paid as such.

(Working or not, I will gladly embrace the Donald Trump title “enemy of the people.” Opposing Trump is a badge of honor I will wear proudly until the day I leave this life.)

Currently, the top of the page reads “and former journalist.” It’s safe to say that’s no longer accurate.

I am now the editor of The Island News, a weekly newspaper that covers northern Beaufort County in South Carolina.

It pays but won’t pay the bills. It’s not a full-time gig. I’m still employed at Randel’s Lawnmowers Equipment Sales and Service to make ends meet. But it’s a nice bump.

And I’m back in the game.

The Island News is a typical small-town weekly. At the small end of the small-town spectrum.

There are a lot of community event pictures and rewritten press releases. But the new owners have goals of something bigger — filling the void left when the local paper, The Beaufort Gazette, basically abandoned its hometown.

And there is a lot of potential. But there is little staff.

Also, I’ll admit I like the job. Almost too much. While I needed a break after getting laid off, I will admit I may not have realized how much I missed the grind. It was time to get back.

Given the landscape, I’ll never get back into newspapers. Not in the big sense. But this job gives me the opportunity to play a constructive role in the community I have chosen to make my own.

And maybe one day, it’ll be more than a part-time gig.

But right now, it’s a positive. And given the way 2019 has gone for me personally, I needed it. It’s given me a little hope I have been lacking.

And a reason to change “former journalist” back to “journalist.”

Gaining even more respect for my father

Posted in Family with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2019 by macmystery

A week or so ago, after picking my kids up for the weekend on Friday evening in Columbia, we stopped for dinner at Lizard’s Thicket near the airport.

For the unfamiliar, Lizard’s Thicket is a small chain of meat-and-three style restaurants in the Columbia area. Like Cracker Barrel, Dylan and Ella are fond of their food.

As we entered, I noticed and elderly man and his wife – I assumed – sitting opposite one another in a booth near the front of the restaurant. There was a walker stationed at the end of the table, and the woman looked quite frail, leading me to believe it was her walker rather than his.

I took notice because he looked tired, like a caregiver. I recognize this from watching my father descend over the years as he cared for my mother. By the time my mother passed in 2012, my father was a shell of the man I knew growing up. He had aged 50 years in 15.

Though he tried, the smile wasn’t the same. He dealt with blood pressure issues and depression, and my mother’s situation, and stubborn streak born out of fear, contributed to the accelerated demise of my father’s professional and military careers.

But he soldiered on. I heard my grandmother tell my mother once that she was lucky. Most men would have left and my father did not.

Statistically speaking, she was right. Noted and bloated TV psychologist/talking head Dr. Phil says 100 percent of relationships where one partner is a caregiver end in failure. I don’t think that’s 100 percent accurate, but I’ve no doubt it’s close.

As I watched my father, the best man I’ve ever known, struggle, I was not much help. I just hoped the strain and stress wouldn’t win. Once when my mother was being particularly difficult about something, I told her that if she killed him before she lost her battle to the myriad illnesses that were slowly taking her, I would never forgive her.

I haven’t endured what my father did, but my divorce several years ago and, more recently, the end of a serious relationship have hit me hard. I deal with anxiety, struggle to sleep, and quite frankly, I’m admittedly depressed.

Almost seven years ago, a freak occurrence – my mother banged her leg on the pole under a table at a restaurant – led to a heart attack and, eventually, my mother’s passing.

In the seven years since, my father is again the man I knew when I – and he – was younger. He smiles more, talks more, and his wonderful, dry, sometimes dark sense of humor is back. Despite a knee replacement several years ago, he is more active than he was 10 years ago.

He was lucky. My sister and I are lucky. If my mother had lived another 5 years, there is no doubt in my mind that my father would not have. I’m not sure if that would make him among Dr. Phil’s 100 percent or not.

Back to the couple at the Lizard’s Thicket. Though their interactions went unnoticed to my kids, I watched. I do this often in public.

The woman was lost. She could barely feed herself and appeared on the verge of tears the entire meal.

He did things for her. But he was not kind. It troubled him. It was like he had somewhere else to be, something else to do and she was keeping him from it. He was annoyed. He once yelled at her that the potatoes were not hot.

Then, when it came time to leave, he stood and waited for her to get up, while holding her walker at the ready. When it took more time than he anticipated, he banged her walker on the floor repeatedly in frustration.

I wanted to cry.

As bad as a look as it was for him, I don’t blame him. I don’t know that he’s a bad person. It’s quite possible that he’s just tired. Beyond all human limits. He’s at his end, and the fact that’s he’s still going is in itself an accomplishment.

That didn’t make it better for her. You could tell she was struggling emotionally, not just physically. She just couldn’t “do” anymore. And like most people in this country, they likely don’t have the means to make things any better for themselves, to get care for her above what he can provide himself.

All of this makes me even more grateful for my father. I’ve never told him that enough.

He never bailed on my mother, though at this point in my life, I can’t say I would blame him if he had. He could have tried to make his life better. He instead tried to make my mother’s better. And is still trying to do the same for my sister and me.

If I live to be half the man my father has been, it will be an accomplishment.