As a teenager, my daughter Bridget was holding the Sunday newspaper and chuckling. I asked what she was reading.
"Dave Barry's column," she said. "Geez, Dad -- if you could only write like this."
Hey there, young lady! . . . She flashed a smile, so I laughed, too. She got away with the little shot at her dad.
Barry, the nationally syndicated humor columnist for the Miami Herald, recently announced that he's taking a leave of absence from his weekly column. Dave said -- and I am not making this up -- that after 30 years of writing his once-a-week column, he needed a breather.
Once a week? For those of us who knock out three or four a week, it's hard to work up sympathy for a guy who is exhausted from one a week.
Local columnists write about communities, people, trends and events, often from a point of view and sometimes with opinion. Occasionally, we write personally from our own lives.
In 34 years at The World-Herald, including 22 as a columnist, the biggest response to anything I wrote came from columns two years ago about my daughter. Some readers have asked for an update, and this seems like a good time -- she's speaking in Omaha on Saturday.
Now 27, she is doing well, thanks, and next year may enter graduate school.
A first-grade teacher at Fort Hood, Texas, Bridget was abducted by a stranger, robbed, raped, shot three times in the back and left for dead. In the middle of the night, naked and nearly bleeding to death, she somehow made it 200 yards to a house for help.
In six hours of surgery, doctors saved her life. Her attacker was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
Bridget went public about being raped, saying that she felt no shame and that the stigma should be on attackers, not victims. Many survivors of rape came forward, some saying they had never reported the crime or received counseling.
Over the past couple of years, Bridget has given interviews to newspapers, magazines, local and network television, and BBC Radio, and has given several speeches.
My friend Dana Parsons, a Nebraska native and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, this month quoted her in connection with the Kobe Bryant case. A criminal charge of rape in the case was dropped, but the alleged victim has filed a civil suit.
Should her name be made public?
"I don't think anyone should be pressured into using their name in public," Bridget said, "but, on the other hand, I don't think they should be discouraged or scared away from it."
Bridget Ann Kelly will speak Saturday at Lauritzen Gardens at the third annual banquet of the Wellness Council of the Midlands. Eight Omahans will receive the William M. Kizer "Light of Wellness" award.
Tickets, $75 each, can be obtained by calling 390-8347.
Health and wellness are important parts of Bridget's message. She has spoken on behalf of the mental, physical and emotional well-being of rape survivors, and she lives with juvenile diabetes -- diagnosed two months after her attack.
She is the third of our four children. Barb and I also have five grandchildren, and the newest -- the child of our daughter Laura and her husband, Duane Brus -- was baptized last weekend. We were touched that they named the baby Bridget Ann.