People think of newspaper reporters as forever unraveling the twisted threads of political corruption or, depending on your political orientation, they think of us as concealing political corruption in return for pats on the head from America-hating Muslim-coddling socialists.
As a reporter on a midsized daily newspaper that prints arrests and obituaries, I can tell you that I spend a lot of time at charitable events. I'm at the Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless, and I'm there when your organization gives $1,000 to a hospital. I'm interviewing the sick kid who gets to ride in a police car because he wished it from a cancer ward.
Tuesday, I was in a local park while some kids from the high school tied 50 scarves around trees and fences, so the homeless could take a scarf if they needed one. The kids made the scarves out of striped fleece, and there was a note on each one saying it was for any poor person who wanted a warm neck.
It was a good story, and it ran one Page 1 with the headline "Warm Wishes."
"Some junkie will probably take all 50 of the scarves and sell 'em on the street for a half-a-buck each," I told one of the other reporters when I finished writing the story. "You can buy five bags of heroin for $25."
As a reporter, I've covered a lot of things that weren't nice and, 25 years into my career, I'm not a very nice person anymore.
Wednesday night, I went to visit my mother in the nursing home.
She's in a room with three other women who are, as the nurse practitioner says, "nonverbal."
The one in the bed next to my mother is a midsized, brown-eyed woman with short gray hair who used to work in a curtain factory. There's a piece of cardboard in a frame on the door that tells you the name of each one of the women and what she did for a living.
I've heard her the woman in the bed next to my mother make sounds, but I've never heard her speak.
She and my mother were both out of bed and in wheelchairs Wednesday night, and I talked to my mother for a little while and then just sat with her, holding her hand.
I looked up for a minute, and the former factory worker, who was maybe four feet away, locked eyes with me.
"Did you miss me?" she said.
I'm a married man. I knew what to say.
"Of course, I missed you," I said. "I always miss you when I'm gone."
"I know," she said, and she smiled.
I recognized that smile. It's was the smile of a loved person, the smile of someone who has been told what they already know but never get tired of hearing.
"I think I was her husband for a minute," I told my wife when I got home. "Maybe he traveled for his job. Maybe he was in the Navy."
Maybe one of the homeless took a scarf and kept it, and maybe it helped keep her warm at night.
Maybe the woman in the nursing home felt her husband's love for just a second.
Sometimes, if it's good enough, it's long enough.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin," is a collection of his columns written before, during, and after the 2017 election. IT is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and from Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.