My Favorite Column, And Why

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In nearly 31 years of writing a column every week, I have written my share of stinkers and a few of which I am fond. Most land somewhere in-between. I can say straight up that my favorite column was published five years ago, a few weeks after I moved back to my hometown of Longview. You’ll understand why in a moment.

The piece was titled “Unpacking a Passel of Books.” It was about how I enjoy unpacking boxes of my books after moving. Doing so is a way to reacquaint myself with old friends who have stuck with me through life’s winding roads —1,500 or so volumes collected over a lifetime of loving to read. As I wrote then, “I love books, the way they smell, feel in my hands, and the treasures that lie within.” While I now read most newspapers and a few magazines online, I steadfastly resist reading books in that manner.

A few days after that column ran, I received an email from a woman who asked if I would like to meet for coffee, to get acquainted. She liked my columns and thought we might become friends, as long as I was not married or otherwise encumbered. I wasn’t, so I used Google, that great online detective, to learn she was a college professor and thus likely not a serial killer. I replied that I would be delighted to meet for coffee. We agreed to do so a few days later.

When the time came, I walked up the alley from the newspaper office to the coffee shop. She crossed the alley as I got there, a beautiful woman with wild brown hair blowing in the breeze. Julie recognized me from my photo in the paper and called out my name. Talk about having me from hello. I realize it sounds like a corny movie scene, but I knew then I had found the love of my life. We have been together since that day five years ago.

We talked in the coffee shop as if we had known each other for years, went on a date the next night, and for a long walk the day after that. Soon I met her daughter Abbie, then 10 years old. I quickly learned to love Abbie as well for her intelligence, beauty and independence.

Julie and I became engaged nine months after we met. Then life tossed some curveballs, as it is prone to do. My too-small house got stuck on the market when the real estate crash occurred.  The newspaper business went south, and I headed north for a time, then down to Austin, taking jobs where I could find them. Finally we decided to throw caution to the winds and get married even if we couldn’t live under the same roof. We lived a commuter engagement and then marriage for many months.

At last we live as a family in the same house, though it took three-and-a-half years, four moves on my part, and a lot of prayer to figure it out. There is plenty left to figure out. There always is in a marriage, especially if you’re the guy. Especially this guy.

Some evenings I watch as Julie — my Beautiful Mystery Companion as I call her — sits on the couch preparing for her next day’s class or reading, usually flanked by our dogs, Rosie and Sam. And I still can’t believe my luck. To find a love like ours this late in life is a blessing I neither expected nor deserved. But I plan to hold on to it as fiercely as I can, because I know from experience how rarely it comes along.

It’s been a great, if at times crazy, five years, Julie. I love you, darling.

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  • Denise


    Awww! So sweet!

    • admin


      Thanks, Denise. Hope you're doing well.

  • Tamara Crail-Walters



    • admin


      Thanks, Tamara. I hope you and Peyton are doing well.

  • Hina


    Life has been the same here too. Balu and I are still dealing with curve-balls, just that they are easier to fend off when you have one another.

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