Missing those good people in my life

George Selvidge enriched my life
By Joanne Peterson | Mar 07, 2013

My extended family is lonesome these days, as we lost a dear man who has been in our lives for decades.  Our Bernie was 85, but he never lost his sense of humor, his ready smile and hug, his interest in life and all it held.

Even when he didn’t feel well, his bright spirit endured.

It was a habit of mine to say, whenever I greeted him, “I’m so glad to see you! It’s always more fun when you’re with us.”

Well, it WAS more fun.  This was a man with a happy disposition and deep interest in people of all ages. His closest friendships went back as far as first grade, but he enjoyed meeting new people, too.

When family members had occasion to celebrate, Bernie joyfully entered the celebration.  He adored my cousin Carrie, affirming and encouraging her for over 30 years.

They took great trips and vacations, always building new memories. Bernie loved flowers and sunshine and being outdoors. His personality reflected his love of nature.

Bernie also had an abiding love of animals. When my beloved cat Benjamin died a year ago, Bernie understood my sorrow. Later, when Carrie’s cat died, he was desolate.

Bernie loved life. He left behind countless friends and relatives who treasured him.  I’ll miss him a lot.

Then, a day or so after Bernie died, I learned of the death of another person important in my life--my high school journalism instructor, George Selvidge, the most influential of all my teachers.  I stopped by to see him, but he was gone.

I chose journalism as a high school elective and loved working on our Edmonds High School paper, “The Wireless.”

Mr. Selvidge encouraged my interest in writing and did all he could to steer me toward a career in journalism.

He was none too pleased when I decided on a degree in English and headed toward teaching junior high school.

A while back, Mr. Selvidge stayed in a West Seattle nursing home while he recuperated from surgery.

My daughter, a social worker there, discovered in conversation that he was at one time one of my teachers.

She asked permission to let me know he was there, and he asked her to invite me to visit him, which I did. It was great.

George Selvidge enriched my life. He caused me to think deeply, challenged me and taught me how to be a journalist, a writer.

When we visited at the nursing home, I told him that I think of him every time I write a column. I said I’d visit him again after he went home.

The thing is, I meant to do that. I put off the visit too long though—another harsh lesson in life, another reminder that treasured people leave us, too soon.



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