It was either a prayer or a heavenly phone all, I’m not sure which. Here’s how it went.
God: Hello, who is this?
Lynn: It’s Lynn, don’t you recognize my voice?
G: I don’t hear from you very often, so the voice sounded strange. What is your panic this time?
L: How did you know it was a panic?
G: You never call to say thanks so I knew it was another panic. So, tell me what it is.
L: I need an idea for an article.
G: Boy do you ever. You should have called years ago. That brings up something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. You need to think about retiring your writing pen. You’ve been suffering from writer’s block longer than I can remember.
L: Writer’s block − what do you mean?
G: Your columns are as stale as last year’s cheese. How long have I allowed you to go on anyway?
L: I started in 1977 when Gerald Ford was president. Don’t you remember?
G: I’m trying to forget. That’s 43 years. I can’t believe it. When you started I meant to label you “Expires in 2000.” You’ve been going for 20 years past your expiration date. It’s no wonder you ran out of ideas. You’re getting up in years you know. You’re actually older than Pope Francis.
L: But only by three weeks. The pope is still working with vigor and energy, and new ideas. What a great soul. Why don’t you give me some of the fuel that propels the pope?
G: I work with Francis every day and I’ve worked with you. And Lynn, you’re no Francis.
L: I may not be a Francis, but I have poured my heart and soul into this column with articles about my mother, my dad, my brother, all gone now, my wife Eartha, my kids, reflections about family, reflections about friendship and loyalty, reflections about friends who have passed, discussions about war and peace, statements of why I’m glad to be an American, salutes to the ordinary people among us, reflections on years past, predictions for the new year head, Christmas reflections, a Christmas poem …
G: But not much lately. The best idea you’ve had in the last three years is when you suggested that all TV remotes (“the clickers”) be yellow so they wouldn’t get lost all the time.
L: That was in jest – intended to be a humorous side.
G: It was an aside all right. Look, I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve seen columns and columnists come and go. The minute they leave, another one comes along and nobody notices a missed step.
L: I’ve always tried to be positive and optimistic. Look, I’ve made friends with this column. It’s known in North Dakota as the Dakota Kid and in Minnesota as the Pony Express. I get phone calls, cards, letters and comments on the street.
Mostly what I hear is, “keep working – I’m sending copies of your columns to my kids.”
G: Fifty years from now it will be forgotten.
L: I’ve written about how our hearts break when one of our kid’s boyfriends or girlfriends disappears. The advice your giving me now is breaking my heart. It’s like I’ll be losing millions of friends all at the same time.
G: It’ll probably be closer to a couple hundred.
L: You wouldn’t talk that way to my younger friend, Pope Francis.
G: Francis has a surplus of soul and talent – enough for years and years. In your case, your tank is already empty. You’ve been running on fumes for too long. By the way, is this your final argument?
L: I guess so. What if I keep on writing?
G: Then the third chapter of Ecclesiastes will be amended to include one more verse: “There is a time to write and a time to lay down the pen.” So, what are you going to do?
L: Obey and say, "Amen," I think. But having agreed to quit, I’m still writing in mycmind. I can already think of four alternate titles to this article:
OLDER THAN THE POPE;
RUNNING ON FUMES;
STALE AS LAST YEAR’S CHEESE; or
A TIME TO LAY DOWN THE PEN.
P.S. So long friends, thanks for your support over the years.