Monday, November 14, 2005

Only the good die young...

At noon today, my friend, Bob Betcher, lost his long battle against cancer.

And the world lost an incredible person.

The first time I met Bob, I never would have guessed he was 52. He had bounding energy, and a yearning to hang out with us "youngsters."

Though he had worked at The Stuart News for more than 30 years, he was never condescending, and it never even occurred to him to tell anyone else how to do their job, even though he knew the business like most of us know our own names.

Always the giver, Bob always wanted to hear your problem before bringing up his own -- even when he too weak to work full days and carried a chemotherapy monitor around on his side day in and day out.

I last saw Bob when I left The News in May. Though he was sad to see me go, few were more overjoyed than he that I was getting to follow my heart and embark on an exciting chapter of my career.

He carried our staff. When we all had nothing but bad things to say, Bob didn't tell us to stop whining. And he never just heard us -- he listened and he cared.

Even in his beleaguered state, Bob spent the majority of his time doing his job and taking care of his aging mother. He never seemed to have the time to be as sick as he was.

I heard last week that Bob was back in the hospital after contracting pneumonia, and they were concerned the cancer had spread into his lungs.

I bought him a card Friday, with the intent to send it sometime this week. I was too late.

But I don't think I was too late to tell Bob how I felt about him. I always admired his strength, character and patience, and I'm positive he knew that.

Now, a family of journalists is grieving. A community of readers is mourning. And all I can do is sit here and remember.

Bob, you were too good for this world. Rest well.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Living with a boy -- particularly mine -- is great.

I go grocery shopping , do the dishes and laundry and cook dinner half as often. We share chores; we share money; we share bills; we share responsibilities.

But there comes a point in every relationship that the sharing goes too far.

That recently has happened for Jeremy and me, as we are now sharing a cold.

Before we could even board the plane to come back home to Naples from Raleigh two weekends ago, I knew I was in trouble. I was already scanning the back of Jeremy's throat for redness, and pulling napkins and tissues out of my purse for his use.

By Monday afternoon, he had a full-blown cold, and I knew that no matter how much Vitamin C I crammed down my throat, it would be my turn soon enough.

By midweek, as Jeremy's cold seemed to be on the mend, mine was just beginning.

With our original plans for a long weekend together out the window, I set myself up on the couch with Simpsons DVDs and plenty of throat spray.

As I was struggled to remain awake, I was all prepared to curse Jeremy for delivering his illness to me. That is, until he came home with flank steaks to cook and to cure me of my woes.

Though it was a bit more low-key than I had originally planned, our weekend lazing about in recovery-mode was just what we needed.

After all, getting comfort and cuddles at home is, by far, the best part of living with a boy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The good 'ol days...

If going home again puts me back in a tiny dorm room with horribly dyed blond hair and biology homework to do, you can count me out.

Fortunately, going home again for me this past weekend was filled with fun, friends and, of course, there was some booze.

Homecoming weekend at Appalachian allowed us to take the best parts of the college experience, and leave the stress behind. For just one weekend, we weren't reporters, or lawyers, or accountants, or whatever professional label we now carry -- we were friends.

Now more than ever, I understand why I value the friendships I have with my ASU brethren. Here, more than 1,000 miles away from the mountains I called home for four years, my friends consist of fellow journalists.

That's it.

Not that it's bad to befriend those in your industry, but you should hear our happy hour discussions. Blah, blah, deadlines... blah, blah, editors... blah, blah, politics. We can never seem to leave work in the office.

I think it's great that we've chosen a career that we can be animated about; One that allows us to be, to some extent, who we are at home in the office. But sometimes, you need a break from the same 'ol, same 'ol.

Enter my Appalachian friends.

These are people who knew me, and loved me, before even I knew what I wanted to be. When my girls befriended me, my plan was to be an archeologist... then a theatre major... then public relations person...

But when those plans changed, my friends didn't care. I'd stake a wager that they probably didn't even know about it, because they liked me for who I am -- not for what I do.

Sitting here, a staggering distance from "home," it's clear to me that I need those friends in my life -- be it on the telephone, or in person -- more than ever. Because when things get hazy, and I start to forget that there's a world outside my newsroom, I count on them to remind me who I am and where I came from.

And that -- looking beyond my own nose -- will ultimately make me a better journalist.