When the Wit of Washington -- Art Buchwald -- died last week, it caused a sadness around the world. He was a writer with extraordinary talent, who in 1962 began his thrice-weekly columns which eventually were syndicated to 700 newspapers.
Of course, what I remember most about his efforts was his complete disdain for dying during his last days and he certainly left a legacy of not dwelling on the excruciating pain of having one leg amputated and suffering from failing kidneys.
He definitely was the "Mark Twain" of this generation, but the reason to remember him was his humour throughout his illustrious career, particularly his having had devastating bouts with depression.
When trying to put into words how he felt about his impending demise, it's best to quote him. "I have no idea where I'm going, but here's the real question: What am I doing here in the first place? It's what you do on Earth and the good deeds you do on Earth that are important."
Actually when I started to think about this piece, I planned to take the words of Gerald Nachman and moan about the demise of the great humour columnists in today's newspapers. However, when mulling it over, a wise voice emphasized there was a new generation of "humour" writers scattered even in this newspaper.
But when Nachman wrote in April 2006, he related that in the late 1980s it had become a dying breed, but there were at least four -- Buchwald, Russell Baker, Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry, who still carried the torch.
There were others south of the border such as Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune, Jack Smith, Al Martinez, Lewis Grizzard and, of course, the great Jim Murray of sportswriting fame. In Canada there was Jim Taylor and his wit in the Vancouver papers.
However, as the wise person told me just the other day, there's a new breed rising, perhaps, not in the realm of a Buchwald or a Murray or even a Dave Barry, but ones to make newspaper readers think, and perhaps, even chuckle on occasion.
That laughter is something that is certainly needed amid this stench of impending conflicts around the world.
Buchwald had to ride out his fits of depression, which plagued him throughout his life. His mother was even institutionized for "acute depression" when he was only three years old.
There have been other famous individuals, who have had more than what some would call the case of the "blues" throughout their lives.
One is the Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, who also wrote 'Call Me Anna' as well as 'A Brilliant Madness -- Living with Manic-Depressive Illness.' Incidentally, Patty's father was an alcoholic, who couldn't hold down a job and had a disorderly life. He left home when she was only six. Her mother was taken away to a hospital for depression when 'Anna' was just a toddler.
When reading 'A Brilliant Madness' book jacket, "Patty recounts with painful honesty her temper tantrums, crying jags, hospital stays, suicide attempts, panic attacks, crushing depressions, and plunges into near bankruptcy. She reveals frankly how her disease helped to destroy two marriages and deeply hurt her children.
"But Patty's story has a happy ending: diagnosis after years of on-again, off-again therapy, a treatment -- lithium -- that offered a near-miraculous recovery, a new marriage, and the joy she feels today as she contemplates a future filled with life's normal ups and downs." The book, 'A Brilliant Madness' was written in 1992.
However, mental health experts have declared there is help available and those "suffering" depression, bipolar disorders and affiliated diseases, can be assured "they are not alone."
The "famous people with bipolar disorders" reads like a 'Who's Who' and includes the likes of movie director Tim Burton; writer TV personality Dick Cavett, actress Carrie Fisher, actress Margot Kidder and comedian Jonathan Winters.
And those affected by depression includes TV journalist Mike Wallace; musician Donny Osmond and the late Sir Laurence Olivier.
However, if I were to list those in both categories it would number into the thousands upon thousands.