July 14th, 2024

February a month of milestones

By Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

Time flies when you’re busy and realize the calendar has reached a milestone: it’s been a year since I took over as managing editor of the Herald, a huge honour and privilege that came after 35 years of devoted service here.

Coming up soon are two other milestones – the date I was hired for my first job back in 1980 and the date of my first cataract surgery.

February never has left any lasting impressions on me until now but for the next week I’ll be thinking about all three milestones as I take a break away from the office.

I’ll still be covering city council on Tuesday, albeit from the comfort of my living room with Ben and Izzy beside me which will free up Delon Shurtz – who will be assuming my role – to have staff take on other assignments that day.

I’ll also be covering the celebration of life being held in honour of Fran Rude on Saturday at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization. 

Fran was a friend of so many in this community and I will always cherish the talks I had with her as she enthusiastically planned with Ken Rogers so many incredible productions here.

She was a kind and gracious person and an absolutely amazing talent and I want to do her life and contributions justice so my week off will be postponed a few hours. 

Being winter – hopefully it will be wintry – I’m not planning to do a lot except hit the gym every morning to catch up with friends and try to burn off some calories in a way other than walking around Nicholas Sheran Park every morning at 5 a.m., which I’ll still be doing.

 And I’ll be spending more time with the crew at the Riverstone dog park because I won’t have to rush. Since introducing Izzy to that park, I’ve met a lot of fantastic people and made some great friends at the Riverstone park which is a really kind and caring community of dog people. I do wish more people would pick up after their animals there, a frustration shared I know by other users who diligently make sure the only evidence of their four-legged friends after they leave is paw prints in the snow.

In all likelihood, this will be only one of two weeks off I take this year as I begin my transition out of this profession. 

With the demands of this job, I try to hit the office by 6 a.m. every day, sometimes as early as 5 if I know a big day is ahead.

And I often am thinking late at night about potential stories for the reporters to cover.

So far, we’ve done a decent job given the size and experience of our newsroom staff. We’re doing our best to cover the stories that matter and hit every media event scheduled in a week, although that always isn’t possible for us or any media outlet here.

A case in point was a Black History month event Friday for which I had absolutely nobody available to attend. It was an unfortunate situation but I’m endeavouring to have other events taken care of throughout this month.

While I’m away physically from my desk, Delon will fill in capably as he always has over the years.

As I write this, I find it hard to believe 44 years have passed since I did a phone interview with Jim Cumming at the Fort Frances Times for my first job. Kids I grew up have begun reaching that 65 year-old milestone already, including my neighbour Mike Jensen who I first met in Mrs. Duce’s Grade 1 class at Leeside Elementary in Cardston. 

What happened to the years? One day we’re reading Dick and Jane and the next it seems we qualify for Old Age Pension. The time has gone incredibly quick which is why we can’t take life for granted. We need to truly live life each and every minute and get the best and most experiences out of it.

Being a person whose self-esteem and sense of worth has always come through work, I’ve missed a lot of life to be honest. I haven’t done the travelling like so many others have and never will. My life has been focused around work but what I’ve missed in some ways I’ve gained in so many other ways with the adventures with my four-legged companions.

From Jessie to Roxie to Rio and Benson and now to Izzy, these four-legged creatures have become not only companions but family and being able to give them good caring homes is worth any personal sacrifices I’ve made when it comes to travel and adventure.

And I’m quite content to spend my free time with them, whether it’s on a good walk or sitting on a couch with their heads using my knees as pillows. 

In the next week, we’ll be spending a lot of time together on the couch – if they’ll give me any space to join them – and on our daily walks, the latter especially with kelpie/stumpy tailed cattle dog cross Izzy who is just a bundle of energy.

Ben recently was diagnosed with a neurological ailment akin to vertigo – vestibular disease – and I’m being extremely cautious with my elderly pal. While he seems to be recovering, if he’s too rambunctious for too long, Ben becomes disoriented to the point I have to carry him up the stairs to his favourite pillow. 

He still comes to Riverstone with us every day to sniff and socialize but mostly he hangs out by himself just watching the young four-legged kids. He can’t be bothered to do Nicholas Sheran in the morning and given how Rio suddenly stopped his morning walks a year before he died, I really wonder if Ben senses his own life on this earth is nearing an end. 

His age and health are another reason I’m taking next week off – to make more memories and spend some quality time with him in his twilight years. After Rio died, Ben changed – the loss of his pal really had an impact on him and we’ve all feared he would be crossing that rainbow bridge sooner than later. 

Sadly, I think we’re right so I’m going to make every minute with him count.  

See you soon.

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