Friday, August 5, 2011

Time out to mark a milestone

Happy 50th anniversary, Guy and Pat Schreck

(Image by Stock.xchng vi)
I’ve dedicated this blog to writing about some tough times of late, but also, I think, trying to maintain a degree of optimism about the future of this profession I’ve called my vocation for nearly 28 years.

Today I take a break to celebrate, albeit from a distance — 1,203 miles, to be as precise as Google maps can be. I am in Elgin, Ill., and Lisa, the woman I married, has driven all those miles with our five children to be with her parents, Guy and Pat Schreck, on this very special day, Aug. 5, 2011.

Today is a day of honor, and I write this as a tribute to the two of you as you celebrate 50 years as husband and wife.

I first had the pleasure of getting to know you after I had moved to Rawlins, Wyo., in November 1983. That was a special time — it had taken me a full 18 months after I’d graduated from college to land my first newspaper job. The icing on the cake, I thought then, was that this job was in Wyoming, a state that to me represented the “Old West.” But if that was the icing on the cake, what came next must have been the icing on the icing.

Just a couple of weeks into that newspaper job, I was smitten.

As I walked across the newsroom one day, I looked up to see, standing before the typesetting machine, this lovely young vision of a woman with hazel eyes and light brown hair. I tried to be cool as I walked toward her, put on what I thought was my best smile and managed to say hello as I strolled past.

She glanced up and smiled. She might have said something at the time, but I did not notice — I was drowning in that smile. Lisa still has a killer smile.

It would take me a month or so before I got up the nerve — with a fair amount of encouragement from Dorothy Nobis, the Daily Times’ society editor then — to ask her out, and so I did. Our first date was a New Year’s Eve celebration at the apartment of Tod Megredy, a young, heavily bearded and very talented photojournalist with a penchant for overalls.

In the coming weeks, as I courted this young woman, she introduced me to the two of you, her little sister, Cynthia, and their older brother, Steve. Eventually, I met Lisa’s niece, Amber, and her mom, Jan.

Guy and Pat, you welcomed me into your home and eventually into your family.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years there have been joys, and sorrows to be sure. There have been bumps in the road and there have been mountaintops — today is one of those mountaintops.

Guy and Pat, I regret that circumstances interfered with my accompanying Lisa and the kids to Wyoming to be with you this day. Nonetheless, please know that I love you and am forever grateful for the love and kindness you have shown me from the first time Lisa brought me home to meet you and over the years and the many, many miles. You have poured out that same love and kindness on your grandchildren.

You have much to be proud of on this, your 50th anniversary. My prayer is that this day you will be showered with the love and joy you have brought to your own children, their spouses, and your grandchildren over all these years.

Guy and Pat are two of the warmest people I ever could have hoped to meet.

When I first met you, you lived in a small house at East Walnut and Utah streets in Rawlins, and I was nearly 1,100 miles from my hometown. I was on my own and thinking I was on top of the world. To this day, my friends tease me whenever I mention Rawlins or Wyoming, because I do so often. But that’s only because there were so many great firsts in my life that occurred there — my first newspaper job, settling down in a town in the “Old West” that so fascinated me, meeting and marrying the woman of my dreams and, in the process, becoming the son-in-law of two warm, kind, generous and very loving people with such great big hearts. Our first child was born there, as well.

By the way, that house still stands. You can navigate to a photo of it via Google maps. It still has a carport in back and a gate on the driveway, and there is still a chain-link fence around the yard. The front gate looks very much the same as the one I suavely leaped over as I left after the first time Lisa kissed me good night.

I cannot begin to say how blessed I have been to be your son-in-law over the years. You brought a very incredible woman into the world, and you shared her with a young, self-righteous kid with high ideals, who thought he knew more about a lot of things than he had a right to, and who to this day remains every bit as capable of talking the ears off a mule as he could back then.

I’m not sure how you put up with me, but you did.

Guy, I always enjoyed fishing with you — except the one day you started popping off your .357 at a snake I never did see. I always enjoyed taking my camera along to traipse along at your side  as you hunted in the mountains for elk and deer. I remember fondly the way you and your dad laughed during one of those trips when you stopped the truck to let me get a picture of that porcupine.

And I always enjoyed working with you on evenings and weekends, whether it was building sheds, laying carpet or linoleum, even listening to you laugh as I clung on for dear life while standing on that rickety old wooden ladder you said was safe. (I have to ask, did you ever get rid of that thing?)

Pat, you, too are a wonder in so many, many ways. You worked in and outside the home to make your home a special, warm and inviting place. You made every holiday a feast, from morning to evening, an extravagant display of a mother’s heart in action. It’s a tradition Lisa has continued, with her own special touches, over the years. From my perspective, she does you proud.

Likewise, the gifts you have showered upon us at Christmas and on birthdays always, always showed you took the time to pick out just the right sweater, the perfect shirt, the right knickknack for that special person.

More than that, however, has been your own personal warmth and caring nature. You are a dear, dear person with a heart of gold.

God bless you both on this and the days that follow — may He make them long and joyful and prosperous. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers often, and I miss you more than I can say.

Happy anniversary.

I love you both,