August 04, 2021

Peterson: ‘Upon further review, it’s been a good life’

By Larry Peterson, contributing writer

It’s not often that Deb can throw me off with a question and stop me in my tracks, but it happened Sunday morning.

We were on the couch for our weekly infusion of art, culture and human interest feature stories on one of our longtime favorite programs, CBS Sunday Morning. Going back to just after we met in Atlantic in 1980, we found that we both enjoyed this weekly show that allows us to learn things we didn’t know in areas such as architecture, painting, the fine arts and up and coming musicians. Or, maybe just an unsung American who did something remarkable for others.

We grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax while learning or being entertained for 90 minutes. Often we watch it on DVR just before lunch, allowing us to zip through the commercial breaks.

So, being in that relaxed mode, I was unprepared for the question posed by Deb, as I kind of lamented about being 64 years old. My birthday was one day earlier and I said something about 64 sounding more like mid-60s than 63, which still seemed like “low” 60s.

Deb seized the moment as an opportunity to make me pause and reflect.

“Tell me, are you happy with your life?” she asked, with a serious look on her face that told me I couldn’t dismiss it with a clever quip.

“Absolutely,” I said. “I am comfortable with all of the major decisions I’ve made that put me where I am today. Starting with asking the girl who lived upstairs if she wanted to join me at a Chick Corea (jazz) concert in Omaha.”

That girl was Deb Imming. I had met her as a resident of the same Cherry Hills apartment complex, and as the program director at the Atlantic YMCA. I used the facility a lot, and did a story on a new program that involved interviewing her. That’s when we first realized it was easy to talk to each other and we had a lot in common, including being from northwest Iowa.

In fact, I had relatives in Fonda, where she was from, and her Imming cousins in Fort Dodge lived only a few blocks north of me. I don’t know if I believe in such things, but it does seem there was a reason we were brought together in Atlantic, Iowa not long after we both graduated from college.

Anyway, all of the major decisions I referred to in answering her serious question seem like sound ones now, in reflection.

After the key decision — asking her to marry me — the next big decision was to move from Atlantic to Creston in 1984. Some people in Atlantic questioned why I would want to do that, but a new challenge in a new setting was perfect at the time.

Along the way Deb found two careers that fulfilled her professionally as the director at the local Planned Parenthood center, and then her present position in Southwestern Community College admissions.

I found a home at the News Advertiser for the bulk of my career, although I did stray to bigger pastures for a bit in 1989-90 in Mason City. Again, I don’t regret that decision, because I learned so much there that I applied here when I made another good decision to return to Creston when an opening occurred.

It was about this time of year in 1990 that word got around I was moving back, and many of my colleagues at the state softball tournament openly questioned why I would want to go back to a smaller paper. It was complicated to explain, but the combination of freedom of schedules and trying to raise a young family just felt like a better fit here. It worked out great for our kids, and our oldest son ended up meeting his wife here!

Now, we’re enjoying the twilight of our lives here in Creston and the joys of having grandchildren, all within the boundaries of the state so we can drive to see either family in the same day. And, I still get to follow another passion in coaching young kids in basketball. We can’t complain.

Yes, we’re showing signs of getting older with a few ailments here and there. But, I am still able to work in the field that I love occasionally as a part-time fill-in who can say no anytime to anything, since technically I’m retired! And, Deb still enjoys her work, helping students and prospective students follow their dreams.

So, my answer to her big question Sunday was a resounding YES! I recently read Graham Nash’s book about his life in music, and in it he said, “Time is the only true currency we have.”

I’m pleased with how I’ve used my time. I owe those positive thoughts in no small part to many of you in this readership area. You accepted me, encouraged me, and made me realize I was making a difference to many who wanted to be informed, or save keepsakes of their children’s achievements.

Nearly every time I’ve gone to a graduation party I’ve seen a photograph or article with my name on it, as part of the graduate’s display. That’s always personally gratifying.

So, consider this a thank you note to all of you who have played a part in that positive answer to a question I didn’t see coming on that lazy Sunday morning. Let’s keep it going for a few more birthdays!


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Twitter: @larrypeterson