My View – March 2015

Last month, I had a 5-day “hall pass” to get out of town with my wife, Jo. Our trip to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show was primarily a jewelry buying trip for Jo’s in-town shop, but since I have family in Arizona, it also provided a chance for a visit and unexpectedly, to gain some new perspective on life.

Rewind one week…the February issue was rolling off the presses and included this column—My View—about the City of Jacksonville’s priorities. It was written knowing it might offend some readers…and leaders. As a publisher, not everyone will agree with you all of the time…if ever. In this line of work, if you can’t take criticism, find a new line of work! After penning that piece, I had my game face on but was also a bit stressed-out as to its possible ramifications.

In Tucson, we stayed the week with my stepmother, Sandy, in her lovely home. After long days at the trade show, going “home” in the evening was as enjoyable as was the sunshine, 80 degree temperatures and home-cooked meals. Despite being physically away from the 97530, my mind was never far from home…thanks to my email, text and Facebook tethering device!

My lesson on “perspective” began the first night around the dinner table with a reminder that life is short and unpredictable. You see, Sandy has been battling ovarian cancer for several years. Never one to complain, she understands and can explain her condition better than her oncologist. She’s accepted that her days are numbered, despite not knowing when “that” day will come. In the meantime, she lives an incredibly active life, dotes over her family like a mother hen, has a rich social life, exercises daily, volunteers and participates in community activities…and gives back, big time. She’s one of the most inquisitive people I’ve known, a trait that served her well as a middle school math teacher for 40 years. For her, it’s all about other people and what she can do for them…not what they can do for her, despite her serious medical condition.

The next morning around the breakfast table, Jo and I were busily checking email and returning phone calls when I caught a glimpse of Sandy getting ready to leave for her weekly chemo appointment. Just then, a few emails popped-on-screen including one from a reader who’d sent a “you’re an idiot” note about My View and another from a prospective ad client who was no longer a prospect. After relaying the news to Jo, I gestured across the room at Sandy and then exclaimed, “Hey, it isn’t cancer!”

Here’s wishing you and yours health, happiness and perspective in Our Small Town with Big Atmosphere!