Mothers of the bride are always red-eyed, right?

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Posted 7/25/17 (Tue)

Whines & Roses
By Cecile Wehrman

This is a hard column to write. So hard, I’m actually speaking it into my cell phone instead of typing it. Later I’ll email it to the office and someone can paste it into a template to place into the newspaper, because I can’t see well enough to type or edit it myself.
While the technology is great, it’s frustrating to have to ask others to work harder because I can’t.
This will be the third week in a row when my eyes are not involved in the production of our newspapers, and hopefully you’ve hardly been able to tell thanks to the hard work of my staff at The Journal and the Tioga Tribune. We will continue to put out the newspaper for the next several weeks without much involvement from me.
A retinal tear in my right eye required surgery last week after moving in that direction for the past month.
While I don’t think I’ve ever taken my eyesight for granted, I am nonetheless getting a big lesson in just how important my eyes are in everything I do. As well, thanks to social media, I’ve become aware of other people in our communities impacted similarly by the intense recovery protocol that is required in order to preserve eyesight. It’s been very helpful to have their support and insight.
I am also getting a big lesson about what’s truly important and what’s OK to let go of control over.
On Saturday, my oldest daughter will be married. As I write this, I am less concerned about what I might look like at her wedding than that I be able to see her joy and celebrate her happiness. After nearly two years of planning for this event, she deserves to enjoy it without any concern or worry except for her own happiness.
Likewise, I am hopeful that I will get to take part in much of the upcoming celebration I’ve been involved in planning as Divide County prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Divide County Courthouse and the building of many other main institutions in Crosby. 
On the same day I was having surgery last week, the rest of the 2017 steering committee and spouses were assembling welcome packets for all of the guests. I am bummed out that I didn’t get to take part in that, but so thankful for the others who stepped up and helped get it done.
All three of these things that I hold dear -- the newspapers, the wedding of my daughter, the planning for a city celebration -- will come off without a hitch: without any micromanaging from me, without stress and worry over tiny details, I am sure. But the truth is, I am somewhat addicted to the illusion of having some control over my world. I guess the joke, right now, is on me.
The truth is, I’ve always been a better doer than a teacher. Always been better at working independently than with partners or groups. Even after five years as a publisher, I know little about leadership. I like to think these traits make me a good newspaper publisher, but recent events prove my predilection for just doing a lot of things others could learn is not good for me, not good for my family and not good for the newspaper, because it leaves things vulnerable when I stumble.
To truly be a good leader, I need to share what I know with other people. I need to give them the space to learn. Any knowledge I have accumulated won’t mean much if I don’t pass it on to others who can use it after me.
It’s not that overwork caused my eye injury, but it’s hard not to look at how I could have provided past leadership to better prepare for an unexpected absence.
As far as the wedding goes, the truth is, I had little to do -- the bride has handled every detail -- but I really wanted to show the young’uns how well Brad and I can cut a rug!
As far as the celebration goes, there is a small crew of very dedicated people who have been taking time out from their own businesses to try to set up a nice event that lots of former and current residents can enjoy. Now they’ve picked up my slack, too.
Bottom line, I’ve known for a long time that a new work style was needed, but I tend to be the type that has to be hit over the head before I really learn a lesson. 
The phrase “I was blind but now I see,” in this case, keeps coming to mind. I’ve heard some great pirate jokes too, even though I don’t actually have to wear an eyepatch.
I’ve also gotten good at apologizing for things that I said I would do that didn’t get done exactly the way I said. It’s humbling.
Because people are very understanding and helpful and forgiving.
I know that, in the grand scheme of things, I am very lucky, and also amazed at what modern medicine can do.
Soon enough, I’ll be back to work full steam ahead -- but remembering to take the time to nurture the development of other people’s talents, too. 
For the next few weeks, my eyes may be a little red, but that will be as much due to the surgery as to the appreciation for my employees, family and friends.
Mothers of the bride are supposed to cry! I am gonna be a natural!