I got over writerís block a long time ago. I donít spend my days staring out the window trying to figure out how to get started. Still, Iíve been watching this computer cursor blink on an empty page for days.
I remember marveling at all the newspaper awards lining the walls at the Winona Post when I arrived for my interview with John. Fran was out of the office following one of her surgeries; I met her during my first week on the job at their Washington Street house. Years later she told me I was the best news hire sheíd had, and she hadnít even interviewed me. I remember going back to my desk and crying.
Fran is more than my mentor. She is my friend, my other mother, my touchstone, my confidante, my car-jumper and advice-giver. Her friendship and guidance have made me a better person, over and over and over again. She challenged my young, narrow opinions; she broadened my passion and spirit; she opened my mind. Fran and John, together, absolutely changed my life. When my parents divorced years ago, Fran and Johnís true love became a model for my heart. Their love inspires me every day.
ďIím still going to send you weird stuff,Ē I think was the first thing I told Fran when she announced her retirement. Yeah, right. Iím going to email and text her and call her all the time! I canít help it.
I owe so much to the Edstroms, and itís hard to imagine not hearing Franís laughter down the hall or seeing a splash of bright red hair slip around the corner. Maybe Iíll have to dye my hair an orange hue just to make everyone feel a little more normal, although I must admit, I donít look good as a redhead; my ďAnne of Green GablesĒ pre-teen years taught me that much.
The news that Patrick is the new owner of the Winona Post is the absolute silver lining. Patrick is, as are many of us in the Post family, a graduate of the Edstrom school of newspapering, and will help us all carry on the tradition of excellence that John and Fran have maintained for decades. During a time when so many family-owned newspapers are being purchased by large, faceless corporations, when papers use nonlocal Associated Press content as crutches while news departments are slashed, you can count on the Winona Post to be your forum for real community issues. We believe in what we do.
Whenever Iím feeling lost ó and not just at my desk ó I ask myself what Fran might do, and I usually come up with a solution to whatever I am facing. Although I think Iíll be asking myself that question a lot these days, I know Iíve learned how to find the answers, how to stand up tall, how to be a strong woman. If I ever teach a young woman half of what I learned from Fran, I will have accomplished a great feat.
There are a number of things hanging on my office wall across from my desk ó†awards, the meanest letter to the editor Iíve ever received (from a previous newspaper job), a map of Winona County roads that has been ripped off the wall and taken on news hunts many times. Iím clearing a space, though, for the new centerpiece. From now on, when I look up, there will be two photos staring back at me: one of Fran in her pretty brick red sweater, and one of John, arms crossed, grinning. Every day I will be able to remember how I got here, how much Iíve learned, and whom I have to thank with all my heart.