Prodigal Father

I’m Just Say’n


‘Rotten dad’ looks to atone for the past


Dear Carolyn,

My son and I have been estranged since he was a teenager. I was a rotten dad and was never there much when he was a kid. When I was around, I was drunk. His mom did the right thing and finally kicked me out. I’ve had a hard life since then but am now sober and trying to make up for some of the harm I’ve caused to the people in my life. I’m about to retire after 40 years in trucking and am beginning a second career in addiction counseling.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting in touch with my son. I’ve heard he’s retired from the military and is now driving a truck, just like his old man. I found his email address online and have started and stopped a letter about a hundred times. I want to tell him I’m sorry and how proud I am of his military service. My fear is that he’s gone on with his life and contact with me will only bring him grief.



Dear Lee,

He is your son, and neither of you can undo that. You made mistakes and have owned up to them. Even if he slams the door in your face, you tried. You can’t get a hit if you don’t take a swing. Take a swing. If he’s not ready or willing to reconnect, you tried and should keep trying.

As an addiction counselor, you’ll be advising patients to do the same. You can’t ask them to do something you didn’t do. Take a deep breath and hit “send.”

I’m just say’n.

“The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.”

Woody Allen


Debbie Downer wife might have the right idea

Dear Carolyn,

I’m an optimist, always looking on the bright side and always hoping for the best. My wife is a total Debbie Downer and can wipe out a dream with a single raised eyebrow. I’m used to it and don’t really pay much attention when she tells me I can’t/shouldn’t/better not do something. But now, she’s passing on her rays of sunshine to our two children. When my son didn’t make the baseball team, she suggested he go to the batting cage instead of calling the principal like I wanted to do. I can go on, but you get the point.

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Dear George,

Ah, it would be much easier to just agree with you. However, Debbie D has a point. Kids get praised and rewarded for everything they do and say. Everyone wins and everyone gets a trophy. Real achievement requires hard work and persistence. It appears to me that your Debbie D is a practical and wise woman. 

I’m just say’n.



Skinny pics are dishonest start to relationship

Dear Carolyn,

I met a really nice gal in a dating website. We hit it off and have so much in common it’s like we were meant to be. Her dad was a trucker so she even understands the life. We have made plans to meet in a few weeks.

However, I have one big problem. I sent her a photo of me that’s a few years old — about 30 pounds old. I’ve been dieting since we agreed to meet, but I doubt I’ll lose enough in two weeks to make a difference. Should I tell her the truth or just wait and see if she notices?



Dear Joey,

Excuse me while I bang my head against the keyboard. Really, Joey? You sent a skinny pic? Here’s what you do. Take a pic right now. Smile big: You will need all the charm you can get. Send the pic telling her exactly what you told me.

After that, it’s up to her to decide if she wants to continue with the relationship. I hope she cuts you some slack because I’m a sucker for a happily-ever-after story.

I’m just say’n.

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