“My First Column of 2016,” Feb. 2, 2016

I was standing at the sink peeling shrimp for dinner (and thinking how I like to eat shrimp more than I like to peel them) when I had a revelation.

It hit hard, like a punch in the gut. I heard myself whisper: “This had better be good.”

Not the shrimp. The shrimp would be fine. Even I can’t make good shrimp taste bad. What prompted the whisper was a realization that I needed to write a column. Again. And I wanted to make it a good one.

In the past 25 years, I have written, give or take, 2,000 or so columns. Few were as daunting as the one I’m writing now.

In December, when I wrote my last column of 2015, I thought it might be my last ever. I had just learned that my syndication _ the process that distributed my work to newspapers around the country _ was ending. The news took some getting used to. But I told myself, OK, maybe it was time to shut off my laptop and work on wrestling moves with my grandkids.

I knew I would miss hearing from readers. That’s the part of the job I loved most. That, and the paycheck. But I would not miss being on deadline.

Most people who live long enough get to retire someday. My husband retired recently after 40 years in the news business and he seemed fine with it. Maybe I’d be fine, too?

So I wrote that last column to say goodbye to readers who seemed like old friends. It pretty much broke my heart. But I hit “send” and went to the kitchen to eat something greasy.

Meanwhile, the Retiree tried to be helpful. “You don’t have to quit unless you want to,” he said. “Just decide what you want to do.”

Mostly what I wanted to do was sit around in my pajamas feeling sorry for myself. I’m sure you never do that. But I can do it until the cows come home. Or until I call my brother. Joe is blind. His great pleasure in life (besides eating) is pulling for the Clemson Tigers’ football team, who’d just lost a national championship to Alabama. So I called him to offer condolences.

“I look at it like this,” Joe said, about the Tigers _ and life. “They gave it their best. That’s all you can do. I’m proud of ‘em.”

“Next year,” I told him.

“Yep,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

Joe has an eye for seeing perspective. He likes to make me see it, too. I felt better after talking to him. Not a lot, but some. Then a funny thing happened. Mail. Tons of it. Email, snail mail, messages on my website and Facebook.

I wish you could’ve read it. People said lovely things. It was like going to my own funeral without having to be dead. I read mail for days.

Finally, I stopped reading and started trying to figure out how to self-syndicate my column.

Imagine my surprise when almost every paper that had carried the column for years agreed to continue doing so. Editors get more complaints than thanks. I know because I’ve worked with some of the best, and even married one of them. If you’re reading this in your local newspaper, it’s because editors at that paper said yes. Don’t call them. They’re on deadline. But if you see them at the Piggly Wiggly or wherever, please give them a hug for me.

I said this in my last column and I want to say it again: Thank you for your friendship and encouragement; for your prayers and kind words; for your honesty and trust in telling me your stories; for making speaking gigs feel like family reunions without the fist fights; and most of all, for reading my words, hearing my heart and writing to tell me my stories are your stories, too. You have been, and continue to be, such a gift.

I don’t know how to write a “good” column. I just show up and try to give it my best.

Like Joe says, that’s all we can do.

Next time we eat shrimp, the Retiree can peel them. Thanks to you, I’ll be on deadline.



  1. Margaret Mortimer says

    So glad you are back. I was so disappointed when I read that you were no longer going to have columns in our newspaper. You are great.

  2. Linda Carol says

    Hooray!! Had been watching Facebook every week to see how you decided to handle your “forced retirement!” Was soooooo excited you decided to continue your contact with all of us that love you so dearly! Here’s to more many years with your new venture! I look forward to each and every new column!!

  3. Weldon Walker says

    So glad you didn’t leave me!

  4. Judy Chandler says


  5. Linda Myers says

    I am a day late reading Monday’s paper and was so excited to see your column back! Your column was what I always read first on Mondays and was lost without it. So glad you are back. You have been greatly missed. Best wishes for the NEW YEAR. Keep writing – love your stories!

  6. YES!!! This is an answer to many prayers. I look forward to reading your column for many years to come.

  7. So glad you are back! Reading your column is like talking to a long-time friend. Blessings!

  8. Sharon, I am happy you decided to un-retire. If you come to Charleston, we will show you how to peel shrimp and maybe shuck oysters. We will treat you to the best shrimp and grits around- Sarah’s.

  9. so happy to see you here again on Tuesday !! the reporter
    Our area newspaper should publish it too , I wrote them . Thanks and so much love to you and your family !!

  10. Jackie Jones says

    So glad you are back! I missed your wonderful column!

  11. I never heard of you until a member of my writing guild left a link on facebook. Thanks to Bruce Stambaugh I am now here.

    Odd thing though, I can’t find any place to sign up for emails. No where that I can “join” this site to get new posts in my email.

    Anyway to do that?

  12. Yeah for Sharon. We need to bring you back to Columbus Indiana!

  13. Carol Lenters says

    Glad you are back in the saddle and we will continue to read your columns. It was great seeing you at CPY. You were wonderful and your words filled my heart. Thank you for your joy in writing.

  14. Heather Vanek says

    I checked my emails this morning while drinking my coffee much to my surprise I was so excited to see Sharon Randall I couldn’t open the email quick enough, Thank you Jesus I screamed as I read press reply if you wish to receive my column which I couldn’t hit reply any faster now I am doing the happy dance as my husband is just staring at me. Thank you brother Joe and please pass the shrimp!

  15. Jean Mansfield says

    What took you so long! As evidence of those writing to you, you have quite the following. Keep
    up the good work and eat more shrimp!
    Jean Mansfiel

  16. Davey & Dan Myhers says

    Sharon, We felt such a loss when you moved from P.G. to Las Vegas (of all places) but at least felt connected through your wonderful column. Then sad to think we wouldn’t even have that. Now life is good and you are back! So happy to be connected again. Time to buy shrimp!!!

  17. YES! This makes my day.

  18. Toni campbell says

    I love reading your stories…….they are all so real just like they could be written about me or any other normal mom. Keep writing, as long as you have the feeling for it because you are great!

  19. Kate Sciacca says

    Hooray hooray! God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world! Happy Mardi Gras indeed! ?

  20. What a lovely surprise this morning to find you here waiting for me online! There is nothing like reading your words to make me laugh, cry or think about what you’ve said throughout my day. Welcome back!

  21. Jill Scheidt says

    So glad to read your column today, albeit on Facebook and not in our local newspaper. You have made my day!! Keep ’em coming, please!!

  22. Sheila Torresu says

    It feels like old home week! So great to reunite with you. Missed you do much. Blessings to you and the “retiree” ❤️❤️

  23. Cathy Followell says

    My younger sister and I are doing our happy dance….I just wish that you could see us! We have been in mourning since the news broke that we couldn’t get our “Sharon Randall” fix every Monday morning! We couldn’t bear the thought of our lives without you! God works it all out for us, in his own perfect time! Welcome back to where your heart is! We love you and need you! Sign us happy sisters in Oklahoma….

  24. Judith Tinsley Jacobs says

    You just make my day!! I enjoy reading your column so much!! You continue to make Landrum proud!!

  25. You guys have never left me.

  26. Mike Taylor says

    It was the right decision to keep writing! And we are all blessed because of it. Thanks Sharon.

  27. marie disselhorst says

    I’m so glad you are still writing. Love your columns.

  28. Barbara Ballard says

    Yay! You’re back! I have loved reading your columns over the years. I related to the ones about your children. (I have 2) I prayed for your family during your late husband’s cancer, since I had recently lost my husband, at 45, to a brain tumor. I related to raising children as a single parent. Thank you for being able to articulate how many of us feel about things in our lives.

  29. I just found an old column of yours, Those people make my life. And I went searching for you. I was sad that you were wrapping things up, to an end. Lucky for me I had all the web site writings of yours to look at for consolation. This is the best news! And I really hope the Retiree does peel the shrimp, next time. Welcome to 2016, all together again.

  30. Yes! 🙂

  31. Praise the Lord and pass the shrimp! You’re back! Welcome, friend.

  32. Sharon, I am so glad you are back to writing and if your columns do not show up in my star press paper , in Muncie In. ( I live in Portland , In. ) . I at least know I can read you and connect through Facebook and your blog.. I’ve missed reading you theses past few weeks. I’ve been looking every week and now I’m happy, happy happy you are back. You have a way of lifting my spirits and make me smile and cry all at the same time. Welcome back!

    • I agree Elaine. I take the Star Press, too, and haven’t seen Sharon’s column. Perhaps that will change; I certainly hope so! Seeing Sharon’s post brought tears to my eyes. I feel I have seen my friend again!

  33. Terry Andry says

    I am so happy to read this. Smart brother you have there. I have been reading your columns for years. At least 25 years and enjoy it. Welcome back on track.

  34. Glad you are back! Hope to be reading you every Sunday in the Naples/Bonita Springs Daily newpaper in SW Florida. You have been my first-thing-Sunday-morning reading for years and I’ve missed you.

  35. Patsy Koon says

    I am a reader. You are a writer. You have put into words your memories and made me realize that I have had some of the flash backs of past years that I could not put into words. I share them inside my self. Some bad, more good.
    I am extremely happy that you are going to share them again.
    Happy Birthday! My present to you is a heart felt thanks.

  36. I am so glad you are back and I can’t wait for your next column and the next and so on. God bless!

  37. Pat Burneson says

    welcome back! missed the way you so often touch my heart. Too much bad news in the paper, you’re a welcome relief.

  38. Susan Vordermark says

    I know you Sharon! You came on just in time to warm everyone up to the idea that this is your birthday month 😉 Since mine is right after yours I’ll eat cake for you too. 🙂 Miss you friend.

  39. Sandi in OH says

    Welcome back. I’ve missed you.

  40. Kim Wilkinson says

    You did it! This one was good! Nice to have you back!!

  41. Judi Kalvelage says

    Welcome, back Sharon! I had tomorrow (Tues. 2/9) marked on my calendar…the day you would return to the Norfolk Daily News! I am so glad it all worked out for you, and me, of course! I truly look forward to many more columns from you! You are a natural and need to bless us with your stories. God Bless!

  42. It was a nice surprise to see you had written another column!

    Thanks for always being yourself and for sharing your family stories, along with not only your triumphs, but the tragedies too. Over the years, you’ve touched our homes and our hearts with messages that each reader can relate to in some way. That’s why we keep coming back for more.


  43. Linda Hilk says

    I feel as if I have reconnected with an old friend! Welcome back!
    Drinking my morning coffee while reading your column was pure pleasure, even when I cried with you. There is nothing like the feel of a newspaper in one hand and a cup of steaming coffe in the other hand.
    My invitation still stands; come to Winston-Salem, NC, any time and have coffee with me.
    By the way, I am working on a book too. It is based on my experiences, faith and the power of prayer, during our son’s recovery from a severe traumatic brain injury. It will be based on my posts after the accident (4/5/2014) and his miraculous recovery.
    Peace be with you.

  44. I’ve been waiting! So glad you still have the desire to write! And you had better show up in my newspaper! ?

  45. So glad to be able to read your column again-my Tuesdays will be good days again! My mother wrote a column for small town newspaper for over 56 years- she had to quit at 94 when she suffered a slight stroke. I would love to put some of them in a book-we six kids grew up in those columns. My kids and grandkids love to read the columns she wrote about them and us years ago- I am sure your family treasures yours, too- it is just rather daunting to try to select the best ones to please each family and keep the book a manageable size from all those years of columns-any tips you could offer would be greatly appreciated, mom smiles when I talk about it so need to get it done!! She is 97 now and has the sweetest smiles! Please keep writing for a long time, Sharon!

  46. Scott Saalman says

    Lovely, Sharon–from a fellow humor columnist. Kudos to Evansville Courier & Press for keeping you.

  47. Welcome back, missed you so much……and just like that we pick up where we left off just like old friends!

  48. I’m glad I found your column on FB late last year. I used to read it in the Anderson Independent in Anderson,SC. Hope you’ll continue to post on FB because I no longer subscribe to the paper…fixed income now so I get my news online. Thanks and be blessed!

  49. Terrific news, Sharon! Just got back into the game full time myself. Best of luck to you!

  50. Beth Turlington says

    Really glad you’re back!

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