Sharon Randall: How to say a hard thing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2022


his probably won’t be my best column ever. I always hope for the best. But doing our best takes more than just hope. Especially in writing.

If I cook a bad meal, my husband will get over it. Eventually. But a bad column will haunt me forever.

Writing takes time and effort and a fair amount of passion, all of which I try to give to every column and hope to give to this one. Do you think I’m stalling?

There’s a simple way to say a hard thing: You just go on and say it. I will do that. But first, I want to offer you some advice I’ve shared in columns over the years. I call it, “A Dozen Simple Rules of Common Sense”:

1. When you pass people on the street, smile and say, “How’s your mother?” And they will probably say nice things about you at your funeral.

2. Know what you believe, practice what you preach and always tell the truth. If you tell a lie, at least tell one people will believe, so you’ll only be known as a liar, and not a lying fool.

3. Take care of living things. Feed your animals, tend your crops, be kind to children, old folks and everyone between.

4. Never be rude. If you slip, apologize. Failing to apologize is not just rude but tacky. And you should never, ever be tacky.

5. Avoid confrontation in the heat of anger. Remember, in some states “He needed killing” is not a justifiable defense.

6. Never try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of time and it will annoy the pig.

7. If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long before you put it in your mouth; and if you have to swallow two frogs, go for the big one first.

8. Never gossip behind people’s backs. They’ll hear about it, unless they’re dead. And never speak ill of the dead, unless they’ve got it coming.

9. Seek first to understand and last to be understood. If you want to learn, ask questions.

10. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your wealth be the gold that shines in your words and heart and deeds.

11. Love everyone, even people you don’t like. But treasure the jewels who will laugh with you in good times, weep with you in hard times and reassure you that you aren’t entirely crazy.

12. Stop doing what you’re doing when it’s time to stop. Don’t keep stalling. Just stop.

   OK, I’ll say it: This is my final column. The decision to end it is one of the hardest I’ve ever made. But the choice is all mine. I feel led, not forced, to stop.

I’ve written a column most every week for nearly 32 years. It’s been a dream job for me. Those of you who read it, the editors who edited it and the  newspapers that published it, made that dream a reality.

I cannot thank you enough.

Over the years, a great many of you have written to say that my stories are your stories, too.

When my first husband died, you said you were praying for me and that your children were praying for my children.

When I remarried and had grandchildren, you cheered.

You even pulled for Clemson to win every game just to make my brother Joe happy.

You wrote pages front and back to share with me the joys and sorrows and histories of your lives. I couldn’t always reply, but I read every word. And soon, you became for me, not just readers, but friends.

I hope I’m a friend to you, too. I plan to post occasional notes on my website and look forward to connecting with you there.

Please keep sharing your stories with your children and grandchildren and anyone who will listen — and ask them to share their stories with you.

Our stories tell us who we are, that we are all different in ways that make us interesting, but so much alike in the ways that matter most — the matters of the heart. Sharing our stories can turn strangers into friends. Thank you for letting me share with you my stories and my life. It has been such a pleasure. I wish you grace and peace and joy.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or