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Feels great to share good news

First, the good news.

My devoted wife Laurie, a true best friend, lover and confidant, is looking forward to having me home…most of the time. She’s a homebody and proud of it.

She enjoys her (our) yard and the beautiful flowers. I just admire the flowers and move the large pots around on our large deck, according to the season and the angle of the sun.

In our 42-plus years of marriage, Laurie has spent almost all of them as the wife of a small town newspaper’s sports editor. Her patience and devotion to me are legendary among family and friends.

She is the editor-in-chief with a journalistic eye for critiquing my work. “Tom, why did you write that? What did you mean by that? Why did you run that photo?”

She also praised my work and has been a constant source of encouragement.

Laurie has prepared untold thousands of delicious meals for me, usually under deadline pressure. “Honey, I’ve got to leave for that game in about 45 minutes.”

Her cooking skills are known far and wide. I’m her best customer, too, as you can see by my waistline. “Honey, that sure was a good meal. Sorry, I can’t hang around and help with the dishes. The game starts at 7 and I need to be there a little early.”

She usually smiles and wishes me well. “Be careful. Love you.”

What time will I be home?

It depends on the game. It depends on how long the coaches want to talk about the game. It depends on how many friends and associates I chat with after the game. It depends on how far I have to drive home.

After our children, Terry and Gale, were grown and gone out the door, she would occasionally accompany me to the games. I am usually the last person to leave the field house or the gymnasium or the ball field. I’ve got to talk to those coaches and players. I’ve got to get all of those statistics and quotes in order.

I wouldn’t blame her for staying home. A soft recliner is a lot more comfortable than a brick-hard bleacher seat.

Laurie was able to stay home and become a full-time housewife the last 25 years but she was a busy lady. Being a Mississippi girl, she often saw pinch-hit duty as a plumber, an electrician and a carpenter while her husband was off covering a game.

Her father, Percy Fauver, was a jack of all trades. He could build, plumb and wire a house, fix a water well and perform all sorts of manual skills. She inherited those talents and his love for math, which sure helped our children with those long hours of tedious homework.

During one of my first encounters with my future wife, I learned about those Mississippi gals. A northerly wind was blowing and her dad needed some more wood for the fire place. She put on a jacket, stepped out the back door, picked up an ax, walked straight to the woodpile and began splitting some red oak.

Whoa!

Where I came from, pretty, young ladies didn’t wield an ax like a lumberjack. They just raised the thermostat a few degrees if a room was cold.

Laurie is a certified, self-taught landscape artist. Her flowers bloom with gusto. Her shrubs are green and she meticulously mows the grass. Personally, I like cutting the grass but I’m usually stuck with the weedeater chores.

“Tom, you missed a spot that wide,” she would say, spreading her arms to nearly six feet in width, after one of my mower adventures. To say the least, my lawnmower duties were limited.

She considers mowing the grass her personal therapy. She can ride for hours. Once upon a time, before we owned a riding mower, she used a push mower. One afternoon, some 40 years ago; she accidentally backed that mower over her right foot.

A bloody, shredded tennis shoe revealed two mangled toes. Dr. Jack Atkinson performed the surgery one late afternoon at the old KDMC.

“She’s going to be fine,” promised Dr. Jack. “You’ll always be able to tell your wife’s footprints in the sand because part of her right toe is missing.”

Hopefully, we will have many more years to walk together hand-in-hand on a sandy beach and watch the waves kiss the shore. She prefers the evening walk, just after the sun goes down.

Husbands, remember this proverb. “A happy wife equals a happy life.”

Looking ahead to Aug. 21, my last day of employment at the Daily Leader, there will be plenty of time to later reflect on my 42 years of sports writing. Retirement is supposed to be a pleasant experience.

Retirement from a newspaper should be especially refreshing. In a daily battle with deadlines, it becomes a never-ending, stress-filled challenge.

When this newspaper launched a Sunday edition some 15 years ago, the deadline pressure grew larger and heavier. Trying to corral at least 12 area football games for Sunday’s edition, plus some softball games; was and is a daunting task.

Responsibility can be a heavy burden. We have compared it to a ball and chain attached to the sports desk. Saturday work schedules often lasted 10 hours and sometimes longer. One way or another, with help from Richard Dube, Marty Albright and other dedicated writers and photographers, the mission was accomplished. Our sports section won numerous awards in the Mississippi Press Association.

It’s remarkable how many family and social functions take place on Saturdays. It’s also remarkable how many I have missed over the years because of my devotion to duty. My wife made a lot of those functions alone, while yours truly worried about getting that Sunday paper completed for the readers.

Certainly, we have enjoyed working with the coaches and the players over four decades. That means I’ve seen them, their children and their grandchildren play the game.

Dealing mainly with high school sports, we admire these young men and women who play sports for the love the game. There are no big TV contracts or endorsement deals to reward their efforts.

It’s just the ball, your teammates and the opposing team. Sounds simple but it can become complicated. That’s another story in itself.

Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tom.goetz@dailyleader.com