“Taking a Chance on Love … and Life,” column for July 21, 2015

Once, I went to a zoo to see the penguins. But my favorite thing of all turned out to be the bats.

This is a love story. I’ve told parts of it before. But stories are like love itself: They change and grow and deepen with time.

When I met him, I liked the blue of his eyes and the starch in his buttoned-down collar. But that was about it. He’d just been hired as an editor _ my editor _ at the paper where I worked. I hoped he’d be a good one. I never dreamed he would one day be my husband.

In years to come, he often made my writing better. Good editors do that. They don’t change a word of your copy, unless it’s to make you look better, or protect you from getting sued or killed.

When we weren’t on deadline, we’d talk about our kids. I was married with three. He was single with two. I’d watch his face as he described his boys’ latest soccer match or stomach flu. You can see things in a face you can’t hear in words. His face said clearly he loved being an editor, but what he loved most was being a father to his boys.

My husband was in the midst of a long and valiant battle with cancer. When the battle finally ended, a thousand mourners attended his memorial service in the gym where he’d coached basketball for 30 years. Among them, I saw later in the video, was my editor. Even then, I felt a comfort in his presence.

Two years later, that same editor called me to say he’d taken a job at a bigger paper.

“Wanna go to lunch before I leave?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said, expecting to see the old newsroom crowd that often lunched together. I arrived late. The place was empty, but for him. And he was sweating.

“Where is everybody?”

“Just me today,” he grinned.

We ordered jambalaya and started talking about our kids.

Finally, he took a breath and said, “I’ve been carrying a torch for you for a while, and I think you should give me a chance.”

I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. So I gave him a chance.

Things went slowly but surely from there. Neither of us was in a rush to remarry. But five years later we were married in his sister’s back yard, surrounded by a beaming circle of family.

His boys liked me because I was easy to beat at cards. My kids liked him because he didn’t try to be their dad. He was just easy to be around. They liked that a lot. Even after he moved their mother to Las Vegas.

When my daughter asked him to escort her down the aisle at her wedding, you’d have thought he’d won a Pulitzer.

But the biggest surprise _ a bats-over-penguins unexpected gift _ has been the kind of grandpa he’s become.

“Hi, Nana,” says 5-year-old Randy, when he calls. “Can I please talk to Papa Mark?”

They’re all crazy about him. Randy. Henry. Charlotte. Wiley. Even 5-month-old Eleanor, who recently spent an evening nestled happily in his lap watching “Shaun the Sheep.”

I wish you could’ve seen them.

I told you all of that to say this. After a lifetime in journalism, the editor is retiring. He will still correct me, of course, every chance he gets. But instead of slaving in a newsroom five days (and nights) a week, he will be home 24/7. With me.

God help us. As someone said, “We married for better or worse, but not for lunch.” We welcome suggestions for making it work.

He won’t be an editor any more, but he will always be Papa Mark. And he’ll have lots more time to enjoy it. I know five little people who’ll be thrilled about that. The newspaper’s loss will be our family’s gain.

The best gifts are often the least expected. You go to the zoo to see the penguins. But if you keep your eyes and mind and heart wide open, you might be blown away by the bats.

It happens. You just have to give life _ and love _ a chance.

Comments

  1. Jeannine Fitts says:

    I have been reading your column to a 100year old Lady that has always followed your writings.
    The times Record News didn’t have it today so where can I find your column? We enjoy you and your family. Sincerely Jeannine

  2. Myra says:

    Hi Sharon,

    This is my first reply though many of your columns have struck a chord, evoked a tear or guffaw. Interestingly, retirement happens for different reasons. In my case, my husband retired and became my full-time volunteer library assistant. He was fabulous and loved my middle schoolers and my work environment as much as I did. So we began spending twenty-four hours together–minus my better half coming in tardy to school and sneaking out early before the buses left. But then my mother began having medical issues and seemed to have an assigned bed in the hospital so I realized that as an only child, she needed me more than I needed to work. I am not certain who was more disappointed that I retired, my husband or myself. That has been two years ago and since then my father-in-law has shown signs of memory loss so now we are both busy with our parents. We have learned to enjoy life as it comes, appreciate what we do have, and pray daily.

    I hope you continue to share your life with readers as your columns resonate on so many levels for a cross section of humanity.

  3. Nancy Durein says:

    I love the “for better for worse, but not for lunch” comment! My mother, who was married for 50 years and died at the age of 102, used to say that all the time…especially after my father retired!

    Nancy

  4. Kate Sciacca says:

    Congrats on retirement! May you both be blessed with many years of good health and time spent with family (and grandkids!)
    So, do you stay in Lost Wages or head back to the land of fruits, nuts and flakes? Taxes and such are a might bit better here in the Silver State. Actually, you should move here to the north state where us “Real Nevadans” live ?….. And you are only a few hours drive “over the hill” to see kids and grandkids ?. A “win-win” if ever there was one!

  5. I just read your column called Best gifts often least expected and I loved it my husband have worked with each for 20 years and people have always asked how can we do that and not kill each other ,it was hard at first especially after our kids grew up and moved out we had to get to know each other again but Praise God we stuck it out and we miss each other when we are apart .We have been married 43 years this coming August 10th and we only dated 1 week when he asked me to marry him ,he is the love of my life and my best friend we have with the Grace of God grown with each other we were 24 years whenwe meet and married and are fixing to retire this year we are with each other 365 days a year and if we can make it with Gods Grace and love you will to we found new romance together with date nights

  6. Amy Ireland says:

    Thank you for always putting a smile on my face when I need it most!

  7. Dear Sharon,
    What a beautiful story , unfortunately many of us fight the impulse to just let it happen , lost my wife two years ago , and regret that our life could have been better. Hopefully
    your article will wake some people up.

  8. esp says:

    Hi Sharon, Hi Mark
    I had a dream about Mark last night and wondered if I could find your writing online, Sharon. And here you are, a gift, with today’s column writing about Mark! Oh the JOYS of the Universe. I used to read your column way back when the Monterey Herald was still a real newspaper. I knew Mark socially from his editorial position and a mutual friend/co-worker back at the Herald in Monterey. BRAVO and thank you for the sweet read!!! Glad to know i can still plug into your words, Sharon. My best to you and Mark. ~ ellen pendleton

  9. Dolores Daley says:

    Beautiful. Wish Marie and Bob could read it.

  10. libby nowell says:

    Sharon,
    enjoy every day with your husband…I enjoy every day with mine, and I am so happy he is still around to annoy me at times, but I love being together with him no matter what.

  11. Kathy W says:

    Enjoy every day with your Husband–don’t let the same things bother you.

  12. Sharon,
    Please offer retirement congratulations to Papa Mark for us.
    Blessings,
    Bruce (& Neva)

  13. J Bruce says:

    I remember — and think about you two when my days are dark. Every word you wrote is true, and I am grateful.

  14. cynthia! says:

    My husband retired while I was still teaching, Then, he went back to work part time because it was driving him crazy not to be busy. When I retired a few years later, he continued to work 20 hours a week. It worked out well. We both still had friends and time of our own but also extra time with each other. Now, both fully retired, we do bump into each other in the kitchen or have to wait until one finishes taking a shower. Still, it is comforting to know we are there when we need each other. Enjoy this new chapter!

  15. Pam Dozier says:

    Have him take up golf. It consumes half a day! My guy’s still defending crooks half a day (bless his heart), but I believe golf has saved our 50-year marriage (next month) since my retirement a few years back. Oh, and the surfing, too. ” Old Man of the Waves.” Sheesh. I suppose yours could play his bass 24/7. You got good earplugs? Best to you both.

  16. carol says:

    Great column as usual. Wonder if you will be moving back to California

  17. Shashi says:

    Very nice story ,God bless your editor husband and his writer wife who does not need any correction when she finishes a column , who knows how to weave it with words full of truth and beauty ,not less than jewels in ink on paper . Loved your story which you made an example for readers all over the world ,who would not only read it but cannot go away without putting a comment like I did . Thank you Sharon . You are an ANGLE IN THE WORLD OD EDITORS .

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