commuterchroniclesdbh

Driving and Biking in the Big City

Saying goodbye to saying goodbye

with 2 comments

As someone once said to me, “You should be a lot more rich or more famous by now.” Thelma has plenty of time for both.

This week, one of my all-time favorite co-workers left my side for a new and wonderful adventure. I am melancholy, of course, but it’s been far easier than many of my past goodbyes. I give credit to the internet for that change in my emotions. She’s a pretty regular Facebooker who reads my blog, texts me, sends me photos of her girls as they are growing up and who routinely shares interesting and exciting ideas with me.  She will be in my life every day just as many of you are.

I wake up and check my Facebook to see what’s going on with my friends and my family. I comment often and “like” even more. I see my Facebook friends daily, I know them intimately and I tell them what I’m thinking frequently. They are in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and California, and they travel often to more states and countries, leaving me messages and beautiful pictures. They do not live on my block. I have no Millie and Jerry Helper to John’s and my, Rob and Laura Petrie, something I’ve always longed to have since the first days when, as a dreamy girl, I fell in love with the lives I saw on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Then I go to Twitter to get my news from selected sources who also happen to be my friends. Because of my newspaper background, I’ve chosen writers and sources who I know personally and trust some, depending on how many late night war stories we told in the golden days of the Fourth Estate. I look at YouTube for laughs for the day.

I have an iPad, a smart phone and a husband who has tried all the notebooks before landing on the iPad, too. I have two kids who were born in the techy era and who take photos and videos far easier than they write letters or even thank you notes.  I keep up with them via text, knowing that my son won’t respond unless I ask a question and that my daughter will respond always.  My niece sends me shopping and fishing photos and another co-worker texts me photos of her new baby’s smiles.

As a former columnist for the Houston Chronicle, I once wrote that I never intended to be the type of parent who kept my children locked in my generation. I would embrace their music, their movie heroes and let them live in the world as it is today and not as it was “in my day.”

As an adjunct professor at the University of Houston, I argued with the tenured professors that “yes” our students should be allowed to use spell check and grammar check.  Why not let them start here, I said, using my hands to indicate a higher mark than where we started when we had to be accurate spellers and grammarians. I argued they would go much farther in the theoretical learning cycle when they started with the tools of today. P.S. I lost that battle and the spell check was turned off for Reporting I and Reporting II classes.

I propose a new experiment for the neuroscientists of today who study memory. How is this new generation of communications affecting our remembrances and the health of our brains?  My memories are keener because I have my friends from the past along to remind me of details they remember that I don’t. My stories are more complete when I start a post on Facebook and someone who was there who is now my Facebook friend fills in the details from his or her perspective.

This happened recently when I recalled the toughest interview of my life with Karen Silkwood’s father, back in the ’80s.  The photographer who was with me began filling in the details, and my mind expanded to think of more and more images from that dark living room in Nederland that had the single adornment of her driver’s license photo blown up one thousand times as large as possible. I still wonder, if they were as so close as he said, why this was the only photo of his daughter he had.

Today, I work on a team and recently passed on to our team leader the differences in how I reach my fellow teammates after work hours. Two are by Facebook, one is by text and the fourth is by telephone. They are all pretty available if you know their preferred communication technique.

So before I post this blog, I will message Thelma that I am writing about her . . . again. I will tell her it’s not smarmy and she will like that because Thelma is not the sentimental marshmallow that I am. I won’t even say she has been the Ethel to my Lucy because she has been far more effective than Ethel ever was at keeping Lucy out of trouble. She has been my rock — an excellent foil for my high strung and creative soul. I’d say she’s helped channel my energy and intelligence for good instead of evil, and the world has been a safer place because of her.

She will be fine with being the subject of this blog because she knows me and knows how much I admire her and how much I wish her well. My co-workers are in my life because my life is so much about my work. I don’t separate the two. And when they become friends, they can now be friends for life — no matter where their office or home is located.

Just because I have left the newspaper business or Michigan or even my hometown of Port Neches, doesn’t mean I’ve said goodbye. The only thing I’ve said goodbye to  is saying goodbye.

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Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

October 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

2 Responses

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  1. Denise,
    This is the first reading I’ve done from your writing. I enjoyed your expression of communication with friends. I have the same pattern with my everyday technical routine with my friends. I’ll be checkiing in and checking out your thoughts, soon.

    Colleen Zorn Bivens
    PNG 1970

    Colleen Zorn Bivens

    October 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    • Thanks, Colleen. I enjoy your Facebook posts, too, and think we have some similar interests. I’ve always embraced new ideas, and this is certainly new. But I really like setting my own deadlines and being my own editor. I hope you enjoy it.

      commuterchroniclesdbh

      October 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm


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