Wednesday, December 26, 2012


 When I first started writing this column back in 1994, Jeff, my editor at the time, advised me not to use my husband’s name. He said by keeping him anonymous, more women would be able to relate to him as if he were their own husband or boyfriend.

For years, I picked on “my husband” in my columns, joking about his habits and antics, and many women wrote to tell me how much he reminded them of the men in their own lives. So I guess my editor’s way of thinking was right.

My husband, however, always was pitied by men, who often addressed him as “you poor guy.”  Many also said they would file for divorce if they were in his shoes, because it seemed as if nothing he did was sacred…or private.

Little did they know that my husband always enjoyed being written about in my columns. When I would write about the dogs or someone else and not mention him for a week or two, he’d say, “Don’t you love me any more?”  And then, more often than not, he’d remind me of something  embarrassing he’d done so I would write about it.

Take, for example, the night he woke up and thought he heard a prowler out in the yard. Still half-asleep and wearing only his underwear, he grabbed the ornamental sword he kept by the bed (especially for burglars) and ran outside, where the neighbors’ motion-detector floodlight popped on and bathed him in enough light to enable the entire neighborhood and passengers in low-flying aircraft to see him…standing there in his BVDs and holding a sword over his head.

I laughed about it for days. When he saw how funny I though the incident was, he insisted that I write about it. Thank goodness I married a man with a great sense of humor.

Last week, on December 13, I came home from Christmas shopping and told my husband I was going to take the dog for a short walk. He said, “OK, but hurry back and feed me. I’m hungry.”

I returned 15 minutes later and found him slumped over in his chair. He passed away two days later from a massive stroke.

His name was Joe.

There have been several times during the 18 years I have been writing my column when I’ve thought I’d never be able to write anything humorous because something sad or stressful had happened that week. But Joe would always encourage me by saying, “You can do it. People are counting on you to make them smile and laugh every week. And if you can make even just one person smile, then you’ve succeeded and can feel really proud of yourself.”

After hearing his words, no matter how depressed I was feeling at the time, I’d manage to write something that actually did make people smile. And as an added benefit, I discovered that writing humor turned out to be cathartic in many ways. So I’d usually feel much better afterwards.

But this is one situation where I know that no matter how much of a pep talk I give myself about laughter being the best medicine, I just can’t write humor at the present time.  Therefore, I have decided to take a leave of absence from writing this column until I can smile and feel like my zany old self again…and then I promise I’ll be back.

Joe would want it that way.



  1. I have read your column for years Sally and so enjoy reading it and hearing about all your interactions with your husband Joe - your "silent" partner in crime. The love you have for each other shone through in every column. Your antics were often ones I would do and you write about them in a hilarious fashion. I read your column yesterday and was sickened to learn of your mention of Joe's loss. I am so very sorry. I feel like I too lost a friend when I don't know either of you. I felt I had to email you and let you know what I am sure many readers feel.. a profound sense of loss. I am sure you are still numb and shell shocked by your loss.I hope that knowing your "column friends" care might help to ease your burden of grief. Is there a charity to contribute to in Joe's name ? Take good care, Dawn Burton Hooksett NH

  2. Hi Dawn,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. It really does help to know that people care. I was amazed at how many truly felt as if they knew Joe through my columns! It's been difficult to write again without having him as my inspiration. I mean, he would say and do really funny things without even realizing it most of the time! His favorite charity was always the NHSPCA SOS Fund, PO Box 196, Stratham, NH 03885.

    Take good care, and thanks again!

  3. hi, i am a random Portlander on the west coast who randomly stumbled across your blog column last night while searching for info on fingernails. i read and laughed over half of 2012 last night and first thing this morning after dropping son at school, i sat back down to enjoy 2013 and forward...
    and then came this post.
    and feeling after a mere 12 hours as if i've known you all my life, i have to send my deep sympathies. belated or no, i don't suppose that matters. Dawn, your hubby was an absolute jewel! what a blessing to have had a relationship in which the love and the laughter were so obviously central to you both. your tribute post is so sweet and touching and i know it required great strength for you to write. i hope that time has eased the pain of loss, though i'm certain you must miss him very much.

    1. I am really pleased you found my blog and are enjoying my craziness! Thank you so much for taking the time to write. My husband had a great sense of humor, and not a day passes when I don't miss all of the laughs we shared together. But it's really comforting to be able to remember someone...and smile.
      Thanks again - Sally