By Bill Dodds | Catholic News Service
For the past 26 years -- September 1991, for crying out loud -- I've had the pleasure, privilege and sometimes panic of writing a monthly family column for Catholic News Service.
("Panic"? A little. "The copy's due when!")
Simply and sincerely put, I'd stop this one right here with a heartfelt "thank you" to a variety of CNS editors, diocesan editors and many, many readers. At least I always hoped many, many readers.
Those editors, God bless them, have a word count that they want columnists to fill. Mine is 600. Give or take a little.
No, I'm not in poor health. Yes, I'll continue to crank out material about family, God and love in a variety of Catholic publications, but let's be honest here. It's time for a younger person to write a family column for CNS. Someone on the front lines of raising little ones in the 21st century.
My children are ... well, yikes, two of the three of them are in their 40s. (Which, I'll admit, greatly amuses me.) When I began writing for CNS my youngest was 11. Now I have a grandchild who's 12.
"Tempus fugit." Latin for "Holy moly, where did those decades go?"
Some longtime readers may recall that it's only recently that I became a solo act. Only since my wife, Monica, died of uterine cancer in early 2013.
Before that, years and years before that, David Gibson -- an editor at CNS at the time -- approached me and asked me if I'd be interested in writing a monthly column. He had a few topics in mind, but the only one I remember focused on family caregiving.
I knew just about nothing on that topic, but I knew someone who knew a lot: Monica, a social worker for the Seattle archdiocese's Catholic Community Services. Monica, my wife. We could work on it together. So we began "Your Aging Parent," which became a book and, when that went out of print, a website and a second book.
In the early 2000s, the column's focus broadened and became family life in general.
To sound like an old man here (which is not a stretch, since I'm not a young or middle-aged man and stretching isn't as easy as it used to be) ... By cracky when Monica and I began this column, we wrote it on a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer, ran it off on a dot matrix printer and sent it in a stamped envelope to CNS. Later, going high tech, we faxed it in.
Because of CNS, because of you dear diocesan editors and readers, in 2005, our website about family caregiving led to our beginning the Friends of St. John the Caregiver (www.FSJC.org). It's an international Catholic organization that promotes care for family caregivers.
To Monica and me, it seemed that was what we had been moving toward all our adults lives. A ministry we were led to and, thanks be God, were able to do. One that, in 2013, became a core part of her legacy.
That year I wrote a lot columns about widowhood because, although I thought I was prepared for Monica's death, I -- like most new widows and widowers -- was clueless. It was a blessing to me to be able to share a part of that journey. To receive emails from fellow "club members" telling me their stories and thanking me. To have so many people remembering Monica, me and our family in their prayers.
I'm nearing the 600-word limit. Feel free to visit me at BillDodds.com. (Info on my books there.) Or contact me at [email protected].
Wow, do columnists have big egos or what?
Bill Dodds and his late wife, Monica, were the founders of the Friends of St. John the Caregiver (www.FSJC.org).[[In-content Ad]]