A Time for Beginnings – and Endings

Published June 10, 1988. A sabbatical is defined as (1) a time of release from normal teaching duties, like in a school, college, or university and (2) bringing a period of rest: a sabbatical leave.

And that, column readers, is exactly what I will be doing for the next few months as I take a sabbatical leave from Brigham Young University.

Carma Wadley, editor of the Today Section in the Desert News, and I agreed that it would be best to discontinue my column during my sabbatical leave, which will last until January 1, 1989. We will then decide whether or not to resume the column.

Knowing this may be my last column in the Deseret News brings back many memories. My first column was written on January 19, 1979. It was titled “Are You an Absentee Father?” That’s what I have felt like during the past nine years while writing this column and trying to do a multitude of other things. Now, some 450 columns later, it is time to take a break.

Writing a newspaper column for nearly a decade has been an educational experience. I have learned to appreciate the wisdom, skills and talents of editors Don Woodward and Carma Wadley.

As a writer, I have benefited from the discipline of having to crank out a 750-word column each week and stay within the limits. I have learned about the inverted pyramid, which means putting your most important thoughts and ideas at the beginning of the column and not the end lest they be omitted because of space limitations.

I have been amazed at the wide readership of the Deseret News both in and out of the state. I had little idea that it was read by so many people who live outside Utah.

But most important of all, I have thoroughly enjoyed the letters from column readers. It has been another education in and of itself. Some of the letters were sent anonymously. Most were not. And hundreds of people during the past 10 years have written and shared personal concerns and insights about marriage. My only regret is that I have not been able to respond personally. For this I truly apologize, particularly to those who wrote soliciting personal advice or a response.

During the past nine years, my children have lived in a kind of public fish bowl because I’ve often written about them and our experiences together. As humorist and newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck noted, all families have ties that both gag and bind. I have written about our ties – both kinds.

I also appreciate my wife’s willingness to share much of our marriage in this weekly column. Susan has gained unwanted notoriety – often while in her grubbies at the grocery store, when she forgot her checkbook or couldn’t find her check guarantee card. She has changed a lot during the time I have been writing. I feel as if I’m now into my second marriage with the same woman and have never been divorced. I love her and am deeply committed to her.

One of my favorite biblical verses is found in Ecclesiastes (3:1-2). It states “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” And I might add, “A time to write, and a time to cease from writing.”

After long, careful thought, I believe that time has come. Thanks to all involved for the opportunity to have been a Deseret News columnist.

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