“Mockery”, she accused. MOCKERY? After 6-and-a-half years in this humor/satire writing world, I should be used to the misinterpretation by some readers. Especially since last week’s nastygram was only my 4th in all these years. And the only one printed in the newspaper. Most of the people in this world “get it”.
Now I understand why Erma Bombeck used to respond to certain reader’s feedback, “Get your own column!” At first it seemed cold or rude. But you know what? It wasn’t. She wasn’t. But she too, had occasion to be misunderstood, to use her pain to help others through theirs and to simply bring a little wit to every day life.
I was mentally stinging with pain and hurt from that letter to the editor…while still physically hurting-my fodder for the criticized column. Pain that still puzzles the experts, leaves me cranky or crying (pick a day) and worried. Will I have cancer? Is it some bizarre form of cancer that doesn’t show up on routine screenings? If the tests were negative, why am I still in pain?
But then I open my email to find letters from readers like April in L.A., who, when I was working there last summer, invited me to lunch with her mom and friends. Who sent me a picture of her child about whom we spoke at that lunch.
From Pat and Andrea who clipped and mailed my columns to me as they ran in the Tampa Tribune.
From Michelle in my hometown asking if I’ll be home for the traditional 4th of July parade and hoping the, “Do Cows Get Mammograms Too?” column was just another one of my typical satirical pieces, meaning I’m not really hurting.
Or my very first letter from Angie:
“Hi Karen, I just read your article on ‘Cows and Mammograms’. It is well written and made me smile… as I just had the same experience. I hope your mammogram was normal. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t. I went from mammogram, to ultrasound, to needle aspiration, to core biopsies which eventually led to a diagnosis of Breast Cancer. It was 2 days after my Birthday. I’m married (for 21 years) and have 6 children. I’ll have surgery in 2 weeks. I’ve accepted my diagnosis as a “gift” of suffering as it can only bring me closer to my beloved Jesus. Please keep me in your prayers.
Thank you for making me smile in the midst of my cross. Blessings, Angie”
Maybe I should be grateful this angry, misguided woman had the “Letters To The Editor” forum to vent, instead of holding it in and getting stressed. Then again, she finds that waterfall in the waiting room (where she volunteers) tranquil, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about her well-being. I shouldn’t tell her the sound of water makes some people, especially those in pain, even more edgy and nervous.
And her comment on my bathroom use? Let me tell you about going in for my bladder scan….