Thinking of starfish

Originally published in the Dickinson County News

It never fails, just when I’ve begun to forget that cute little story about the starfish, someone decides I need to be reminded.

You know the one. A boy is walking along on a beach, picking up starfish one at a time and throwing them back into the ocean when someone comes by and says, “Boy, why are you bothering to do that, there are way too many of them. You can’t really make a difference.”

And the boy picks up another starfish from the beach, throws it into the ocean and says, “It made a difference to that one.”

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to be a true “difference-maker” here at the Dickinson County News. Of course, there are the election previews that help people make voting decisions, the Lower Gar updates that keep you all informed of the controversy, and the research on how budget cuts effect us locally. But the stories that have meant the most to me have been more personal.

Each winter I get a Christmas card from one of my personal “starfish.” Valerie Pattison-Bergson was a lady I met six years ago in January. The daughter of a Brittish woman and an American soldier, Valerie had been searching for her American soldier father for many years. Through one of my small actions at the Dickinson County News, Valerie came to learn about her father (who had passed prior to her finding him) and now finds an unending bond with “new” siblings in Estherville. Valerie has been one of my favorite ongoing stories at the DCN as she returns each September to tell me of her growing family tree.

I hope I’ve tossed a few more starfish back to the ocean through my work here, but I’ve had far more days whe I’ve been the one “saved.”

I still remember the day Larry came in with a magnet that said “We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing each other.”

I’ll never forget meeting Linda’s recovering trumpter swans and the day she let me feed a young orphaned fawn.

Taking a walk with seeing eye dog Darius opened my eyes to some of the more important things in life.

I’ll forever treasure Phyllis’ survival story which inspired the book I’ll write someday, and the lessons I’ve learned from Marilyn who never fails to remind me that youth is simply a state of mind.

Valerie, Larry, Linda, Darius, Phyllis, Marilyn and so many others are part of what makes it so difficult to give up a job at the Dickinson County News, but I’ve decided to follow my doors of opportunity and open a website design and programming business here at the Lakes. I’ll still be in the area, but my difference-making options will have to take a new form.

I just wanted to extend one last thank you to the community for serving me so well throughout my tenure here. I hope I’ve made some differences myself, but I’ll forever be blessed because so many of you have made a difference to me.