Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on August 23, 2009
My dog Chopper likes the Kindle too

My dog Chopper likes the Kindle too

Sometime after my career and I decided to get married, we learned that we would be unable to have children together. So we ended up adopting. That’s how I wound up with an extended family full of newspaper people.

I always knew deep down that I could not do newspaper work at the level I hungered to do it without pouring every ounce of my life, ego and mental energy into it. In other words, I didn’t think I was good enough to be as good as I really wanted to be and still have enough of my soul left over for too many other things, especially time to properly attend to a family. That sounds like a pretty lazy and selfish attitude, I realize. And I envied those who could do both.  But short of that, newspaper people make pretty good family. It’s not like we literally have to live together under the same roof, or even talk on the phone more than once or twice a year. It’s just more like we’re part of a tribe that sticks together forever.

Friends that I made, was mentored by and whom I mentored during more than 25 years working in newspapers have reached out to me from everywhere since learning of my sudden hospitilization, surgery and follow-up treatment for brain cancer. Many are still among my closest friends. But even people from way back — folks that I’d lost touch with — made the effort to contact me and express their concern and support. In every case, all time and distance vanished the moment I heard their voices on my phone or answering machine, or read their e-mails or opened my mailbox to find their cards written in handwriting I still instantly recognized without even having to look at the return address. 

The newsroom at the Orlando Sentinel — a place I have not set foot in since I left it more than two years ago — took up a collection and bought me an Amazon Kindle and a nice gift certificate to go with it. A big group stopped by to deliver it to me personally a couple days after I got home from the hospital. Other friends and colleagues from my newsroom days have trooped over to my house to check in on me, bring me food, take me or meet me for lunch or just come sit and talk for a couple hours. They’ve offered to give me rides to and from treatments. I am extremely grateful. 

I have already written about my appreciation for the level of care and attention that I received from paramedics, nurses and other health-care workers while I was in the hospital. All of them belong to the so-called “giving” professions, hence their generosity. Newspaper people, though, would never pretend to be part of a giving profession.

Generally speaking, newspaper people belong to more of a “taking” profession (ie., taking money from readers, taking money from advertisers and taking a lot of crap from pretty much everyone else). But when one of their own needs help — even a member of the tribe who has wandered off — newspaper people can give, too.


8 Responses

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  1. Travis said, on August 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I think friends are the family you choose. Sounds like you have a great family.

  2. MadMustard said, on August 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    True friends will never forget you; we should all have so many. It is a tribute to yourself as well as to them.

  3. Flatus said, on August 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Lard, I think you pretty well described the tribal experience that those of us who spent a career in the military have. When I talk with someone I haven’t spoken with in years, I can still finish his last partially uttered sentence. It’s awesome belonging to that type of fraternity.

    While having cancer totally sucks, people should envy the relationships you’ve developed over the years; and,of being an active, life member of a guild such as yours.

  4. Jamie said, on August 23, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Even in close knit professions, you reap what you sow. It is obviously that over the years you have planted some wonderful seeds of kindness and generosity and now they are coming back to the man who earned them.

  5. Ann Hellmuth said, on August 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Newspaper people are a special family. I love to get together with people I worked with on newspapers in England in the late 1950s. No matter how many years go by, we pickup as if it was yesterday.

  6. ludden said, on August 24, 2009 at 7:22 am

    newsroom colleagues only people who get your dark humor, understand labor of love, selfish enough to call you family
    excellent chopper close-up

  7. Kathryn Quigley said, on August 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    You are welcome. Plus we are being paid to be nice to you. When can I expect my check?

  8. Laureen said, on August 25, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Newspaper people understand better than most what it’s like to be told: This WAS a perfectly good story/lede/page layout/plan for your life. But now something unexpected has happened, and you must tear it all up and start over.

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