Jim Fall: What do you do when things sneak up on you?

Jim Fall

I have always prided myself in being somewhat of an organized person, at least in most aspects of life.

I mean, at one time in my life, I made a reasonable effort at keeping Holiday Inn franchise holders pretty well satisfied. More recently, I was mostly successful in keeping 85 newspaper publishers and editors herded down the right path.

But, I will have to admit, this one snuck up on me. Well, they both did, for that matter.

The first surprise came as the deadline for this column — and it didn’t really come as a surprise, but as more of a procrastination. I mean, after more than 40 years in the newspaper business as a reporter, editor and/or publisher, I’ve had occasion to write more than 2,600 regular columns and editorials. I am fully aware that the time to get the next one done comes right after the last one is published.

It never seems to work that way, however. I guess I am what you might call a deadline writer — I usually perform better when the time is short and the job has to be done. Like now.

My excuse for putting this particular assignment off is that I returned from five days of Thanksgiving vacation in Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and Kansas City only late last night. Oh yes, I took my laptop with me on the trek, fully intending do be inspired at some point during the jaunt and crank out another sterling offering.

Somehow, our three kids and their families all gathered in one spot for the first time in more than two years; two turkeys and college football combined to change my plans. Seven grandchildren in one place at the same time can do that for (to) you, you know.

For a getting-older guy, I held my own pretty well through an assortment of kids’ (young and old) activities until the rather spirited kickball game that followed the coveted after-Thanksgiving picnic featuring leftover turkey sandwiches. The weather in Texas allowed us to gather outside on the lawn of the Kimble Museum of Art in Fort Worth, and after the eating was over with, the fun and games got under way.

I have been known to play a reasonable game of kickball in my day, but nothing like the three fathers — wow, they are middle-aged now — expected out of me that afternoon when we took on the grandkids.

I lofted my first at-bat high over all defenders and was feeling pretty smug about it. My second trip to the hula-hoop that served as home plate was equally exciting, if not nearly so successful. I dug in for another smash — only to crash and burn when the toe of my plant foot got hung up in the grass and my left knee buckled like I had been blocked from behind by a Jayhawk footballer.

Luckily, I escaped serious injury, although there was early concern among the girls along the sideline that I may have torn an ACL, or some such, because of the awkward manner I apparently went down.

It proved to be only superficial, however, and I managed to finish out the game, although I was plenty sore from knee to hip the next day.

Thanks to the Lord, if I make it for three more days, I will be something akin to three-score-and-13 come Friday. Not bad for an Arkansas boy born on Dec. 4, 1936, a day when nothing much else of importance happened anywhere in the world.

Looking back over those years, at least the ones I can remember — it seems now like so many of them rushed by in a blur I have little or no recollection of what was happening — I think the happiest ones have been spent in these parts.

The years from 1975 until 1983 spent as editor and publisher of the Albany Ledger were a most rewarding experience, an experience I would take nothing for having done, but would never do again. Then came a stretch from the late ‘80s until 1995 when I was fortunate enough to be the publisher of the Maryville Daily Forum, and then of the upstart Maryville Free Press, before moving on to Montana for more than a decade.

It has been a wonderful ride, and I don’t think I’m anywhere near the bottom of the hill yet. I love every day I’m given, and a look forward to many more to follow.

About Friday: No gifts, please.

Jim Fall is a columnist and former publisher of the Maryville Daily Forum in Maryville, Mo.