Word count seems to be a hot blogging topic lately; along with rules about not writing about one’s self. Maybe these have always been hot topics and I’ve just been too self-absorbed to notice. This post isn’t about passing yourself off as grammatically challenged when the truth is you just don’t care enough about readers to properly punctuate. So, if you think I’m going to reveal my own solid gold nugget “How to Blog the Right Way,” you may want to click to a better place.
At this writing, the document that holds my blog posts contains 87,301 words. If I add the 44,505 words in Summoning the Strength and all of the comments I’ve made on other blogs, plus the words in my still untitled second book, I really should have nothing left to say. But I do.
To grammar police, smarty pants, know-it-all well-meaning experts who post examples of their expertise such as this:
“Your blog revolves around your person. Stop talking about yourself already. I don’t know you personally, and I couldn’t care less about your ramblings. Tell me something I can use in my own life. Facts, stories, not boring personal stuff.”
I have this to say:
One day in February 2011, I received a call from my friend Donna. We did our rave/rant exchange, which had been our custom for over two decades. Husband stuff, adult child stuff, projects pending completion. I’ll let you imagine which topic fell into the rave category and which spilled over into rant. We each took a breath and then she said something that smacked me in the gut like a size sixteen steel toed boot.
“I need to ask you to do something and I want you to promise not to get upset.”
Like I had so many times, with full, yet completely unreliable, confidence that I actually had control over how “upset” I would get I replied, “Okay, what is it?”
“I want you to deliver my eulogy. You’re the best person to do it because you’ll know what to say.”
I knew what she was asking. I knew what it meant. I knew that there was no other answer but absolutely yes I would do it. I also knew that she’d want to see a draft. We talked for a little longer. I’d already planned to visit her in a couple of weeks. When I hung up the phone, I started thinking. I am an over-thinker. I made a list of every word I could think of that described this crazy friend of mine.
Then I went to see her.
She’d already been through hell and all of the wretched misery that comes with cancer for over a year. Her mother and I had taken turns staying at the hospital round the clock so that one of us would be there in case she needed anything. By this time she was exhausted, but unwilling to give in to that vile thief. We sat in her kitchen talking about some trivial something. Another doctor’s appointment, what to have for dinner, and then I told her when she was ready I had something for her to read. The next day she read it.
This is what it said.
The original Greek, eulogia, simply means good words. There are so many good words to say about Donna. I made a list from A to Z and even then there were more. The first thing that came to mind was how lucky we are that she ran such a successful Attitude Adjustment Boot Camp. If you ever needed a reality check or just that little extra encouragement to get your act together, Donna was a great motivator.
Her generosity extended equally to friends, family, co-workers, even strangers. It usually involved cooking or crafting of some sort and often required large quantities of cheese, her Kitchenaid stand mixer, industrial sized baking pans, a drop cloth, a trip to Hobby Lobby, Home Depot and Sam’s all before lunch.
I could always count on a phone call from Donna to include one of the following phrases: Stephanie, I’m telling you, it was the funniest damn thing I have ever seen in my whole entire life. Or Stephanie, let me tell you, it was the craziest damn thing I have ever seen in my whole, entire life.
Donna learned from the master how to tell a story better that anyone I have ever known in my whole, entire life. I loved to hear cherished memories retold in such great detail that I could feel the joy and excitement as if I had been right there with her.
Laughter was Donna’s hallmark. She laughed with us or without us, and at us, and about us. Thanks to her I will always remember not to take myself too seriously. I could always count on her to point out someone doing something stupid. She had a zero tolerance policy for stupidity and if the person got hurt while doing something stupid, it would just make her laugh that much more.
Each time I have moved to a new place, it didn’t feel like home until Donna came to visit. She was kind. She was thoughtful. She snored like a freight train.
She was great for a road trip to the beach, to the mountains, and everywhere in between. She had exceptional knife skills. She knew the best places to eat and the quickest back roads to get there.
Her favorites: all dogs everywhere, the color yellow, the Jockey Lot with George, Boots Randolph’s Yakety Sax, rivers, Birkenstocks
Her beliefs: be nice to everyone, offend no one, what comes around goes around
Her values: family, friendship, hard work, swift justice, compassion
Her pride: being a mom, being a military wife, being Southern
She taught me that excellence does not require perfection. She knew the importance of going the extra mile to make others feel special. I remember apologizing once for unloading my troubles on her, as I did so many times, and with her own special brand of honesty she said, “Its okay Steph, I know you’ve never been one to suffer in silence.” Thank you Donna for making sure I didn’t have to. She is my most cherished friend, and I will miss her for the rest of my life.
It’s been a year since I made those remarks. I edited it a bit; left out the “damns” because her mother planned a lovely church service. The place was packed with people whose lives were better for having known Donna. I carry her laughter with me every day.
I’m moving on just like she’d want and I started this blog to help me through the grieving process. I wrote a book about how we gain strength from others. I’ve enjoyed the exchange with the enormous community of writers and photographers that I’ve found through this blog. I appreciate your comments, and like anyone who spends time researching and writing content of any kind, I am hooked on “likes.” Would I still write without them? Sure. I did for what seemed an eternity when I first started blogging.
It makes sense to have rules. We need them to guide us and help us become better at lots of things. I like to think I make my own rules. The truth is, I don’t as much as I bend the rules others have made as far as they’ll go. Sometimes that exposes my ignorance. Other times, it gets me just where I want to be. Right here, right now, I’m only one click away from someplace better. Thanks for reading.