Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: "Dear Miss Molly"
By Kate Oliver Webb
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Not even knowing what a “Miss Molly” was, I was hurriedly scanning the newspaper looking for such a column when, without paying attention, I slung open the glass door and oh-so-gracefully fell flat on my nose across the threshold.
Several pairs of helpful hands reached out and did their best to scrape me off the floor, nose bloody and beautiful new cerulean pantsuit lightly dusted with floor dirt. The biggest injury was, of course, to my pride. Especially when the owner of one pair of hands identified himself as Perry Brown, the man with whom I had an interview in, oh, say five seconds.
Despite that inauspicious beginning, I found myself, two weeks later, beginning a long career which would bring incredible changes to my life.
The only qualifications I brought to the position were about 15 years of diary-keeping, and a Bachelor’s degree in Culture and Communication. I had, however, prayed that God would open whatever door He wanted me to walk through, and shut all the others. That was my usual pattern, knowing that I would waver, vacillate, hesitate, dither and otherwise waste time until it was too late to decide. I was counting on God, even as I held the tissue up to my rosy nose and talked around it.
“Dear Miss Molly” was a weekly column based on “Ann Landers,” only a little more home-spun. I was to reply to letters received by the newspaper, most regarding how to handle difficult kids, how to make a dollar stretch, what the neighbors were up to and what to do about them, etc. The previous “Miss Molly” had, literally, been hit by a bus the previous month. The town had all mourned her death, although she was going on 90 and most readers felt she had worn herself out some years earlier.
I, however, never read “Miss Molly.” I don’t know if that gave me a leg up, or caused some hesitation with the editors. At any rate, here I was, sitting at the old Miss Molly’s desk, reading a pile of what the mail clerk termed “incoming.”
The first week’s column set the tone for what would become one of the most popular columns our little newspaper had ever published. Within the first six months, we had gone from once a week to daily, with an expanded “reprise” in the Sunday issue.
By the end of the first year I had married Mr. Perry Brown, and was expecting our first of four children.
The column changed me in ways I never could have imagined. It became not only an excellent source of income (which was what I had intended, frankly, in the beginning), but I discovered it to be a tremendous outlet for my own store of emotions stemming from life’s assorted and sundry trials and tribulations, boons and blessings.
The week our second son was diagnosed with Leukemia, I didn’t take a break from the column (although Perry and others strongly urged me to). Instead, I was able to reply to an “incoming” from a broken-hearted mom whose own mother was losing her battle with breast cancer.
“Never give up hope,” I told her (and myself). “We may not know exactly what God has in mind, but we do know His eye is watching, and His heart grieves with us. Therefore, we know that His plan will be good, whatever it may be. Hope in Him; and resist the urge to lose hope, because hope is…everything.”
I never knew how God’s plan for her worked out; but God met our hope with full and complete recovery for Sean, and a renewed spiritual commitment by our whole family.
As the years went by and the kids grew into their own individual versions of delightful persons, more and more my “incoming” revealed changes in our country’s culture which caused me to stretch and grow in order to accommodate new and strange concepts.
Philosophies of education, religion, social justice and injustices, all revealed the growing (and sometimes fearsome) upheaval which was troubling us. And my column reflects those changes.
We’re still publishing “Miss Molly” daily. Sunday’s column I’ve dedicated to “Hope for the Future.”
If you have a question, or a comment, please send me an “incoming.” Just address it to “Dear Miss Molly” at Shady Cove Tribune.
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