Over the past 40 years, dozens of newspapers have printed my humble columns – and this might be the last one.

Since 2013, it has been a privilege to rub elbows with the likes of Greg Kesich, Bill Nemitz, my editor Sarah Collins and many others. Becoming a member of Reade Brower’s Press Herald team and visiting you in your home was my holy grail. I will let go with a simple “thank you.”

You have oft heard me tell of my wife Marsha, the almost perfect woman. Because we owe our present opulence to her compulsive need to cook, scrub and polish, it is only fitting that I run her and hers by you one last time.

Women come in all shapes and sizes and some eye my wife with suspicion because … she enjoys cooking and cleaning. She is also a great seamstress. I have long underwear over 30 years old that I’m still enjoying, only because of her skill with a needle. Since it has become difficult for her to stand, I have at last, after months of supervision, been permitted to wash dishes and put them in the dishwasher.

You remember the story of the princess and the pea? I used to think it was a fairy tale. But a visitor is barely out the door before Marsha has the vacuum cleaner in hand and is attacking subatomic bits of lint on the floor. Washing the kitchen and bathroom floors every other day is a must, because they are “filthy.” She now scrubs while sitting on her walker with a bucket of vinegar in one hand and a scrubber on the end of a cane in the other. If she had a crane that would hoist her up on her rider mower, she’d be out on that, mowing the grass down to the dirt.

Marsha is a great organizer. There are places for everything and she knows where everything is. You might know how handy it is to live with someone like that. Her oldest daughter inherited the skill, and for a spell did well renting herself out as a household organizer.


Not every man could love and live with such a strong woman. The few who do are called wimps.

Her youngest granddaughter is starting college. Is Marsha buying her a pretty frock? Or ragged dungarees? No. I have been told to buy the child a hammer and a screwdriver. I will advise the child to not wear them on her belt until she has paid the first and last month’s rent.

Granddaughters might not adopt the same politics or religion as their grandmothers, but some habits are hardwired in. No matter what these three do, they seem to put everything they have into doing it. You might say, “Daow. Doesn’t everybody?”

No. Come here and I’ll show you small buildings that are only half shingled. Trees that never got pruned. Doors hung with only four screws in the hinges instead of eight (or twelve). I could pack it up and never go back without an ounce of guilt.

The last to graduate is attracted to sports. I once bought her a trumpet and paid for lessons, but that went nowhere. Neither did the ukulele. She got into the basketball/soccer thing as soon as she could in grade school. For a time, there were ski races and shooting with a rifle like a Finnish paratrooper, but I haven’t heard of that for a while. Before she had a driver’s license, I think her mother drove her 50 miles or more to play soccer or basketball. This was at least once a week. And she couldn’t visit here on weekends; if you missed practice I think you got kicked off the team. So it was a regimen I regretted and couldn’t understand.

Grandmothers followed these games closely because they were televised. I got to see some of them, but the technology was wanting and one only saw green or red splotches moving across a screen.


This past week was the big week of graduation. The youngest granddaughter did her senior year and first year of college at the same time and still graduated with top honors. It was taken for granted. I watched them march in and get their scholarships and diplomas and march out. Because parents and school superintendents have done this before, the graduation party was held in the school and no one was allowed to leave until 4 a.m. By 4 a.m., even the most high-strung boys are willing to call it a wrap.

Only days after graduating, a few girls packed their rackets and traveled the 292 miles from Fort Kent to Lewiston to win a state tennis championship. The opposing team represented a private school. And the poor things were taking on girls who thought nothing of strapping on a rifle and snow shoes, tramping through six miles of forest in two feet of snow, and eating what they’d shot and dragged home.

I wouldn’t call it much of a contest.


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