“How to Say a Hard Thing,” Dec. 27, 2022

This probably won’t be my best column ever. I always hope for the best. But doing our best takes more than just hope.

Especially in writing. If I cook a bad meal, my husband will get over it. Eventually. But a bad column will haunt me forever.

Writing takes time and effort and a fair amount of passion, all of which I try to give to every column and hope to give to this one. Do you think I’m stalling?

There’s a simple way to say a hard thing: You just go on and say it. I will do that. But first, I want to offer you some advice I’ve shared in columns over the years. I call it, “A Dozen Simple Rules of Common Sense”:

1. When you pass people on the street, smile and say, “How’s your mother?” And they will probably say nice things about you at your funeral.

2. Know what you believe, practice what you preach and always tell the truth. If you tell a lie, at least tell one people will believe, so you’ll only be known as a liar, and not a lying fool.

3. Take care of living things. Feed your animals, tend your crops, be kind to children, old folks and everyone between.

4. Never be rude. If you slip, apologize. Failing to apologize is not just rude but tacky. And you should never, ever be tacky.

5. Avoid confrontation in the heat of anger. Remember, in some states “He needed killing” is not a justifiable defense.

6. Never try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of time and it will annoy the pig.

7. If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long before you put it in your mouth; and if you have to swallow two frogs, go for the big one first.

8. Never gossip behind people’s backs. They’ll hear about it, unless they’re dead. And never speak ill of the dead, unless they’ve got it coming.

9. Seek first to understand and last to be understood. If you want to learn, ask questions.

10. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your wealth be the gold that shines in your words and heart and deeds.

11. Love everyone, even people you don’t like. But treasure the jewels who will laugh with you in good times, weep with you in hard times and reassure you that you aren’t entirely crazy.

12. Stop doing what you’re doing when it’s time to stop. Don’t keep stalling. Just stop.

OK, I’ll say it: This is my final column. The decision to end it is one of the hardest I’ve ever made. But the choice is all mine. I feel led, not forced, to stop.

I’ve written a column most every week for nearly 32 years. It’s been a dream job for me. Those of you who read it, the editors who edited it and the newspapers that published it, made that dream a reality.

I cannot thank you enough.

Over the years, a great many of you have written to say that my stories are your stories, too.

When my first husband died, you said you were praying for me and that your children were praying for my children.

When I remarried and had grandchildren, you cheered.

You even pulled for Clemson to win every game just to make my brother Joe happy.

You wrote pages front and back to share with me the joys and sorrows and histories of your lives. I couldn’t always reply, but I read every word. And soon, you became for me, not just readers, but friends.

I hope I’m a friend to you, too. I plan to post occasional notes on my website (and on Facebook) and look forward to connecting with you there.

Please keep sharing your stories with your children and grandchildren and anyone who will listen — and ask them to share their stories with you.

Our stories tell us who we are, that we are all different in ways that make us interesting, but so much alike in the ways that matter most — the matters of the heart. Sharing our stories can turn strangers into friends.

Thank you for letting me share with you my stories and my life. It has been such a pleasure. I wish you grace and peace and joy.

(Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or www.sharonrandall.com.)


  1. Janice Sizemore says

    Your columns will be missed by many of us! I understand your desire to retire and spend more time with your loved ones, but I will surely miss my weekly dose of Sharon Randall medicine! Your stories were ones that I could relate to many, many times. Enjoy your retirement (but maybe update us fans on your family a couple of times a year).

  2. Sharon:
    I met you years ago when you were in Kearney Nebraska of all places.
    Ditto to what everyone else has expressed so eloquently before me.
    Thank you.

  3. John Rhoads says

    “Parting is such sweet sorrow”. And it makes my eyes leak. Kudos for all the memories you’ve shared, connecting us as mere mortals. You fulfilled that obligation to express yourself “between the beginning and the end”. What a treasure that has been. Here’s wishes for fabulous health for years to come.

  4. Susan Hunter says

    Thank you Sharon for putting yourself out there for us to share! You will be missed! Enjoy!!

  5. Curtis Ayres says

    I, like all the others, have looked forward weekly to your words. I too realize that the time comes to just sit back and enjoy the remaining days of our lives with those that mean the most to us, family and friends. Although you and your writings mean a lot to all of us friends that follow your writings, we are not quite the same thing! Hopefully we will still be able to have access to your columns from the past?
    Enjoy the labors of your life now and may God bless you and yours for sharing your life with us these many years.

  6. Sharon,
    Thank you for all the columns over the years. My favorite part of my Sunday paper. It was always the last thing I would read. So there is something to the saying about saving the best for last.
    My best,
    Jim Gough
    Florence, AL

  7. Vernita Heckel says

    Thank you for all the hard writing that made easy writing for us. I met you in Tell City, Indiana some years ago. You tugged at our heart strings with your family living. Blessing to you and your family on your retirement. You surely deserve it.

  8. Iris T Wiggins says

    I feel like I am saying goodby to a friend as I anxiously look forward to my Sunday Newspaper and your column which brightens my day. You are like sunshine after a dreary day. Thank you for sharing your life, your heart, your stories which touch our hearts. I will look forward to your posts on your website as I have recently ordered your latest book and will be blessed by connecting again.. God bless and grace, peace and joy to you also.

  9. Hard writing makes easy reading. You surely did hit the heart strings if family life. I saw you in Tell City Indiana some years ago. A thrill of a lifetime. Hid bless you snd yours in your retirement. You made so many people happy

  10. Kelly P Branum says

    I’ve read your column for the last 20 years and enjoyed everyone, sad to read that this is the last, I got to hear you speak once and enjoyed that too, I think one of the best was when you poured a Pepsi down your sister’s pant :), God speed

  11. Brenda Parker says

    I just read your final column. I had a feeling from the first of the column that you were announcing that is was the final one. I look forward to your column every week. It may seem silly, but I felt a little like I was losing a weekly visit from a very wise friend. I may or may not have shed a few tears. I do understand that the time comes when things end, and we are blessed when God lets us know the right time. I am sure you have many amazing days of experiences to come.
    At the beginning of our Family Christmas, I ask our daughter to read aloud words from your previous column which expressed my feelings about family love.
    Thank you for sharing your family, past and present, and your amazing talent!
    May God continue to bless and guide you.
    I think suggestion of Christine Hetherington about a book of your columns is a fantastic one!
    Happy New Year!

  12. I am so sorry to read your column today. You have been, for years, my favorite part of the Sunday newspaper.
    That said, you have earned a rest. I look forward to sometimes hearing an update from you. Take care and enjoy your retirement. (I hope you enjoy yours as much as I have enjoyed mine!)
    Happy New Year.

  13. You and your column will be missed by a lot of us. But, being retired myself, I understand that there comes a time where you want to relax and enjoy life and grandkids without the hassle of work and schedules. Hope your retirement is a time of joy.

  14. Jan Spiehs says

    I just read your final column. To say that it made me sad that I would not be able to look forward to pouring out my Sunday cup of coffee and enjoying your latest take on life – well that would be true. But thinking about how joyful I was when I retired – I am that joyful for you too! To not be ruled by a deadline almost every week must be liberating for you. I am not one of your friends who wrote to you whenever your words seemed to speak directly to me. In fact I only sent you a message once. However I do feel as much a friend to you as those who kept in touch with you over the years. Thank you for that. Thank you for sharing your family. Your words of wisdom and stories of sadness and joy have touched my heart. I got to see you and hear you speak in my hometown in Nebraska (of all places) with a group of my friends. We all know you as a friend. Congratulations and wishing you a long and happy retirement enjoying your family!
    Yours, Jan

  15. I have thoroughly enjoyed your column for many years. Stories of family and friends are truly heartwarming. Wishing you good health, happiness, and all the hugs you can handle from the grands. You deserve the best, as you have given all many years to all. Thanks!

  16. Carol E Krutsinger says

    I will miss your weekly column in our local newspaper in Nebraska. I so looked forward to your words which spoke to all of us. It is always difficult to “turn the page” but moving forward will offer new enjoyable opportunities. Enjoy your time with your dear family and friends and remember all the people you touched with your wise and wonderful words. We will all miss you but retirement is great!

  17. Marci Pierce says

    Sharon .. will certainly miss your columns! Have so enjoyed your writings, humor and the journeys/experiences you’ve shared with family and friends. I too would like to see a book of your columns. God’s blessings to you and your family in the next chapter of your life.

  18. Garnett Zamboni says

    Sharon I couldn’t be happier for you. You’ve littered our lives with beautiful stories that brought smiles and tears.
    Now go rest. You’ve earned it!
    Blessings and love always

  19. Kathryn Beno says

    Sharon…. my mom shared your weekly columns with me. I cried and laughed and learned. I will miss your writings but so happy for you!! Family and grandchildren are the best!! I know you will enjoy and thank you for enhancing my life weekly.

    It would be great if you could publish a book of all your columns. I would buy it and gift it! I just ordered Birdbaths and Paper Cranes. But I want more! Bless your life always!

  20. Sharon, I will miss your columns but certainly will understand the allure of retirement. Thank you for all your words of encouragement that have helped me through a very difficult time and all of your delightful stories!

  21. Sharon,
    I am so sorry to read that this is your last column. I have so enjoyed reading your words in our local paper first, then here when I found your website. I looked forward to reading every week, and will truly miss this. Maybe you’ll write another novel, a sequel? That would be wonderful!
    I pray the best for you and your family, and will check here to see if you’ve posted any updates!
    Have a blessed New Year and a wonderful “retirement”!

  22. Linda Deiber says

    Sharon: I am so sad to hear you aren’t going to be writing your column any longer, but so happy that you are able to retire and to enjoy all those grandchildren. You let us be part of your family and watched them grow. You let us know that all our lives are quite the same in so many ways no matter who we are or where we are. Even though we have never met I feel as though we are friends because you shared so much of your life with all of us. I can’t tell you how many of your columns I have cut out and tucked away because they touch part of my life just when I needed it. I will miss dear friend and wish you the happiest of life in the years to come. Hope you write a book someday and make sure I know about it. I will buy many copies and share with friends.

  23. Julie Anne Huff says

    Broke my heart a little to read this grand finale. The sweet southern charm, grace and hospitality your writings evoke are irreplaceable. When the world turns cruel and it feels like there is no good left, I turn to King James, Pope Francis, Little House on the Prairie or your stories. I will continue to look through your columns for that solace.
    Thank you Sharon, for sharing.

  24. Thank you fora your columns. So much good sense and kindness! Enjoy your retirement!

  25. Well I consider you, Sharon, a friend also, can I call you Sharon??? 🙂 And we will miss your column A LOT up here in the Northern San Fran Bay Area also (Solano). Now Re: “Please keep sharing your stories with your children and grandchildren and anyone who will listen,” Oh how I wish growing up, my Dad had shared more, him having been a Concentration camp prisoner from 1937-1939 (Dachau, then Buchenwald), being released from the second one). I heard some stories, but not enough. Now my Mom, I know absolutely nothing, her having two siblings who survived, her Brother who became a heart surgeon, who we met once, him visiting San Fran, ended up in Australia. My Mom had a Sister, ending up in a Kibutz in Israel. And I have NO IDEA if and when her Parents made it out, having one small PIC of them, but not a single word written on its’ rear. One of my BIG regrets, was not asking my Dad a whole host of questions, getting his biography on tape. Thank you for letting us, “Speak Your Mind.” At least we know that you are not, “Woke.” LOL LOL :-). Once again, thank-you for some real good reads!!!

  26. Siobhan Greene says

    Thank you for giving us much needed moments of pause and reflection for so many years. I will miss reading your column, but wish you well in your next journey. Saying goodbye to what we do day in and out, to what at least in part, defines us, is filled with ambiguity. On one level relieved, another filled with loss, and maybe the most important, excitement for what to do with new found hours. Thank you Sharon, be well, be happy

  27. I agree with what so many others have said. I’ve enjoyed your columns over the years and yes, your stories were so often my stories. Many of them have found their place on my refrigerator (and then into my scrapbooks) over the years.

    I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of your books yet, but now that I won’t have your column I’ll be searching them out.

    Your weekly wisdom and wit will be missed, but we all wish you nothing but the best and thank you profusely for sharing so much of your life and time with the rest of us! May God richly bless you and your in 2023 and beyond!

  28. Joyce Copeland says

    I will miss you. I just lost my husband on 11/11/22. It’s been so hard. Your words of wisdom help.

    Enjoy your wonderful life with family and dear friends!

    Joyce Copeland

  29. Marion Ingber says

    You’re right. It wasn’t your best column ever, but mostly because I sensed where you were going with it, and it saddened me….purely selfishly. On the bright side, I think you’ll love retirement more than you can imagine and you’ve certainly earned it. Perhaps we’ll even run into each other after all these years of having lived in our beautiful Monterey Peninsula. My dear husband and I will be celebrating our 48th anniversary at Rio tonight and will toast you and how much getting to know you through your writing has meant to me. All the best to you and your wonderful family as you enjoy life without deadlines to spend more time with them and these glorious surroundings.

  30. Sharon,
    I just “knew” by the title of this column where it was going..and as I read it the pit in my stomach just grew and grew. I am sad. When I die, my survivors will find columns of yours in every corner of my home. Your words have spoken the words of my heart for years. I cannot thank you enough for being my weekly reminder that bad things happen to good people, so do good things, smile, laugh, we all make mistakes, smile, laugh, forgive, love, and through it all, always be grateful. For my weekly reminder I am so grateful.
    Enough about me…I am thrilled for you and yours. I wish you all that and more. Please know even though we will be apart..you will be in my heart and prayers. God Bless you…enjoy your retirement!

  31. Carol Christy says

    Words of wisdom! Wish you the best in the future. Will miss your column.

  32. I understand the need to turn the page (it happens for all us), but I will miss your weekly words of wisdom. Your words always seemed to capture what so many of us were feeling…they sometimes brought a tear but most often a smile. I had the good fortune to meet you a while back and at the time I confessed that I was a real “fan girl” – and that I will remain. Thank you for sharing so much through the years and best wishes for your next chapter!

  33. Christine Hetherington says

    Happy for you but just a little sad. Your columns always seemed to speak to something I needed at the time, and despite not having ever met except on the lines of the page I thought of you as a distant friend. But you will not be forgotten! Every sultry summer night that I wake and turn to “the cool side of the pillow” you’ll come to mind.
    If a book of your columns were to be published I would certainly buy it. Plus copies to give as gifts. Just a thought. 😍
    Happy New Year!

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