Instead of it being a final column, consider it a thank-you note
I was raised by strict parents aided by a bevy of nuns who made a career out of turning their charges into proper young ladies. With a stern once-over every morning the sisters checked out the starch in our blouses, the pleats in our uniform skirts and the shine from fresh polish on our white oxfords. The best you could hope for was a nod - but that was the prize and I worked to get it.
Those same good sisters put a lot of stock in "please and thank you." One of the drills we practiced often was writing thank- you notes. After receiving gifts for a birthday or Christmas or when invited to a friend's house for dinner or a sleepover, the proper response was, we were taught, to neatly pen a sincere, well-written thank-you note and send it promptly.
I was labeled "most likely to stay in touch" by the girls I went to school with because I enjoyed writing those thank you's so much.
So obviously I forgot my manners and training when I tried to fade into the fog of Del Norte County after publishing my column about the birth of my second granddaughter Shayna (who is now 8 weeks old with chubby cheeks and big blue eyes). End of chapter, I thought. Next step: retirement. But one by one I heard from readers that I owed them one last column. Please, they added.
You may call this my last column, but I'm calling it a thank-you note. A thank-you note to you for reading the Triplicate and for your calls, e-mails and visits over the years - whether to set me straight or tell me we did well.
I should have retired a long time ago. Not to abandon my post at the Triplicate sooner, but to bask in the generous compliments from well wishers - friends and strangers alike - who have sought me out since I announced my intention to retire Aug. 2. I've been genuinely surprised, flattered and moved by the folks who say they'll miss me. Wow. Who knew?
Most people in Del Norte know me from my columns. Some say they have a favorite that deeply touched them. I teared up at one woman's note that said she particularly remembered my column about the last days spent with my good dog Martha. Martha's been gone for over two years now and I've decided to leave her ashes here, out on Whaler's Island, when we move.
One column that evoked a lot of comments was about Mouseketeer Annette's passing. Lots of us seem to be of an age where memories of the Mickey Mouse Club evoke the Boomer's version of "the good old days" and tie us together.
A couple of weeks ago in Vita Cucina, a woman introduced herself to me as "one of those faceless, nameless people you write to." She went on to tell me about how she and her family followed my life stories through my columns and felt like they knew me although we'd never met. I held out my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Michele," and left before she could see my tears.
Truth be told, I started writing a column so that my children and yet-unborn grandkids would know more about me. Now, seven years later, many locals "know" my sons and granddaughters by name. And I've had requests to send periodic updates and photos so Triplicate readers can watch the girls grow up.
I never imagined as I sat in our home office late at night remembering my experiences and putting them into words, that my stories would reach an audience that genuinely cared.
Thank you for the warm welcome I received when I became publisher, and for sticking with me during rocky economic times that nudged my crew and me to reinvent ourselves as a three-day-a-week newspaper conveniently named Triplicate.
Thank you for inviting me to your festivals and including me in community events. Thank you for honoring me with privileges like being a Miss Del Norte judge (see you Thursday night at the Arts and Crafts Building).
My years at the Triplicate seem more like a series of projects than a job. We worked on some great ones together and enjoyed some successes. For me, the most meaningful are the new roof on the library and the bench honoring tsunami victim Dustin Weber. And I was thrilled with the fabulous turnout for our Food Day events last year. Thank you.
I want to single one person out. Thank you, Rick, for following me when I followed my dream, for propping me up when I got weary, and for giving selflessly of your time and talents to make me and the Triplicate look good.
Thank you, friends and neighbors. Some of you may be nameless and faceless to me, but you are no less appreciated. You have given me your nod, your approval. I cherish that and will take it with me when we go.