If you’re wondering why “Laughing Matters” is here on Wednesday, that makes two of us. I’m reminded of Howard Cosell’s infamous complaint after a problem-plagued radio broadcast, “Who goofed? I’ve got to know!”

I sent in my column to run last Friday, as I have for the past 500 Fridays, give or take. In it, I wished all of you Happy New Year. When my column didn’t appear I started getting emails asking if I was I still alive. (And if not, who was getting my flat screen TV.)

In a way the goof is par for the course as 2016 was a dreadful year. Even before Trump’s election, which I’ll get to later. (I’ll also explain about “a child inspiring us” and it’s not Trump because he’s only a child emotionally.) But there was an event in 2016 for which I’m eternally grateful.

In spring, my older sister, Brenda, was on vacation with friends in Mexico when she suddenly got very ill. Everyone thought it was “Tourista” until they found Brenda unconscious and rushed her to a local hospital where her heart stopped for five minutes.

It was grim when the doctor indicated there likely would be brain damage. I hope she forgives me, but when Brenda came out of the coma asking, “How much is this costing?” I knew she was going to be fine. In fact, she’s made a 100% recovery. (More than I can say for the rest of 2016.)

At the Daily Press, our much revered dean of the columnists, Bill Bauer, passed away. Bill was so lovably ornery I never thought he’d ever die. He had way too much still left to vent.

I met Bill in 2004 when I hosted a “meet and greet” at the Shores for council candidate Bobby Shriver. Tentatively, I approached Bill about possibly getting a column.

I felt a bit foolish but Bill was encouraging enough that I applied to the Daily Press. To me, Bill was journalistic integrity personified and we all still feel a loss in his passing.

This year I also lost my best friend of fifteen years, the legendary Golden Retriever, Oscar de la Rascal. I think about Oscar every day as his photo is on my desktop when I open my computer each morning. He had just come out of the ocean and has a look on his face, “Can’t we stay a little longer?”

Oscar and I had so many great adventures I hope to write a book one day. Oscar, far more human than canine, brought joy to so many wherever he went.

One of Oscar’s biggest fans was my neighbor, Honey Brady who, sadly, passed just weeks ago. Writers often need someone to bounce ideas off of and Honey was the absolute best. She loved to laugh and I loved making her laugh. Even lately, when I have a column idea brewing, I still find myself going to dial Honey.

That reluctantly brings me to Donald Trump. I say “reluctantly,” because, frankly, I can’t stand the sight of him, much less listen to him. I find his combination of ignorance and arrogance, narcissism and lack of human empathy, remarkably repulsive. He lost the popular vote by 3 million and claims he won in a landslide.

The KKK, Nazis and White Supremacists adore him and apparently with good reason. Tax returns? Forget it. I don’t even believe there was an audit.

With Trump’s finger (albeit tiny) anywhere near the nuclear button, I fear for all of us. Add to that, he believes “climate change is a Chinese hoax” and looks forward to a nuclear arms race. These are definitely times that try men’s souls. (And women, too.)

But inexplicably, I found hope this holiday season. Kaylee Rodgers is an adorable ten-year-old with autism and A.D.H.D. so profound that she attends a special school in Northern Ireland. Miraculously, her music teacher, Lloyd Scates, sensed something about Kaylee and encouraged her to sing. And the rest… is on YouTube.

If you’re depressed about Trump, or even if you’re not, go to YouTube and type “Kaylee Rodgers Hallelujah.” Over 4,000,000 people have in a matter of days.

As featured in Killard School’s “Christmas Concert,” Kaylee’s angelic voice will give you goosebumps, teary eyes and touch your heart. Her inspirational Christmas version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is absolutely beautiful. (Even more because Cohen, among music’s revered visionaries, passed in November.)

The video is charming, too, because her classmates in the choir, with varying degrees of autism, fidget and wiggle throughout. And yet Kaylee, so shy she couldn’t read out loud in class, is enchanting.

So that closes the door on 2016. For me, none too soon. That said, with Kaylee’s wonderful song fresh in my mind, I wish you, unintentionally belated, a very Happy New Year!


To see Kaylee asap click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvUMDp-snTI. Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com