My youngest daughter is a few weeks away from becoming a legal adult. So I thought it was now a good time to tell her about the family problems. No, not those family problems, but other inherited DNA problems such as male-patterned baldness, which she won’t inherit as she is not male. But I read maybe my grandkids will have it.

To help my two children out, I asked some of the relatives about maladies running in our family and what some of us have done to, if not eliminate the problem then to lessen the effect of the problem. This is just my side of the family—your mother’s has other health concerns.

So dear girls — after reading the lists submitted by the family, maybe you or your sister didn’t exactly hit the Powerball genetically.

Cholesterol: some have brought it down with diet, some claim fish oil pills, and some of us have used prescription drugs.

Alcoholism: As you know we have a few family members with this affliction. Some have gone to rehab; more have gone to AA meetings, which has seemed to work the best.

Warts: I’m not going to name names, but one of you aunts when we were growing up had them bad. Now she claims that she puts duct tape on her children’s warts and that does the trick.

High blood sugar: This one is mainly controlled by diet

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: One sibling thinks Metamucil every day seems to work, the others just drink gallons of Pepto Bismol and lay on their stomach with a pillow underneath them.

Colon cancer: Your great-grandmother died from it, and your grandmother had it, a few of your aunts and uncles have had polyps removed. So as uncomfortable as it is, you should get regular colonoscopies. Also like everything else, diet has a lot to do with it—something that not all of us have practiced well

Back pain: Some of my siblings like to sleep with a pillow between their knees and some of us actually sleep on a board.

“Fugue-ing”: Otherwise known as staring into the distance, with eyes not focusing on anything for noticeable periods of time. Checking or spacing out. Most of us in the family do it. I read somewhere that it could be called a meditative state. Just call it meditation and you will be fine.

Arthritis: This one the generation before us on the Lawlor side had real badly. I’m not sure how they handled it. So I called my aunt, your great-aunt, in Dubuque, Iowa to ask about the maladies that befell the previous generation and how they dealt with it.

“We really didn’t have many problems” she said.

“Okay, but what were few problems and how did you deal with them?” I asked again, trying to make the question sound different from the last one.

“I said we didn’t have problems, we had nothing to complain about.”

I tried a different approach. “Two of your sisters had arthritis so bad that it restricted their movement.”

“You are always looking to complain about things—we had it pretty well, and you, the next generation had it even better.”

“No problems?”

“No problems.”

“Ok, that was a very informative conversation. I’ll call you later. Love you, goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Give my love to your girls.”

So there you have it, an incomplete list of things that plague us, and an incomplete list of things that help us deal with them. You might in the future add to the list in the future or, like your great aunt’s generation, subtract from the list.

Some families pass down a monetary inheritance. Not this family. On a positive note, our side of the family has given you the gift of height and nice ears. That’s all we got. You’re just going to have to run with that. Happy Thanksgiving! I love you.


Note: No one should take medical advice from me, or this column.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at