Constable: This is my final column, but the thanks will continue

I normally save my thanks for an annual Thanksgiving Day column where I note my wonderful wife, Cheryl, gave birth to twins Ross and Ben on that holiday, how we added son Will more than three years later, and how we have a lot for which to be thankful. But this is not a normal column. It is my final column, and I can't go without giving thanks. This year, I am thankful for:

• The effort Ross, Ben and Will make to coordinate their busy schedules to hang with Cheryl and me and other family members for a week this July.

• Finally getting the chance to have a memorial service for their Grandpa Paul that brought back wonderful memories, and the realization that we keep precious stories about Grandma Jean, Grandpa Willy, Grandma Lois and Uncle Bill in that memory bank, too.

• Sisters, in-laws and nephews and nieces.

• The excitement and satisfaction that comes from knowing Ross is thriving as a filmmaker in Los Angeles, Ben happily will start a new job this fall as a physics teacher at a public high school in a Boston suburb, and Will plans to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul this fall with great expectations and endless possibilities.

• The way Cheryl renews my appreciation for her vast writing skill with every new complex medical topic she makes understandable, and for the way her endless support for me includes keeping me on her health insurance plan.

• The expectations of travel, and the idea of impulse trips to visit our kids.

• The way Ross and Ben enthusiastically join Will's quest to backpack across Yosemite, and the way vegan Will politely refrains from giving Ross and Ben grief for times when they don't eat vegan.

• The way Ben taught himself to be a good bass player, Will unselfishly donates his time to Vipassana Meditation, and Ross figures out how to work on fun and interesting film projects while still keeping jobs that pay his rent.

• The good fortune that allowed me to earn my first byline in 1979 by writing a story on a manual typewriter in a boisterous newsroom, and enjoy a career in a tumultuous industry that has me writing my last column on a laptop alone at home.

• The ability to cover and getthiscloseto people such as Barack Obama, Princess Di, the Dalai Lama and Michael Jordan, write from the ballparks after the White Sox and the Cubs win World Series games, and talk with sports stars and the occasional celebrity.

• The opportunity to be the first person in any medium to publicly suggest Obama could be president, with a column on March 2, 2004, proclaiming "Obama is a special combination of youth, smarts, charisma and political action. Given a chance on the national scene, he'll soon be on a shortlist to become our nation's first African-American president."

• My ability to overlook other parts of that column, headlined "Best candidate has worst name," that suggested Obama's name sounded too much like Iraq Osama.

• The possibility that I was hired as a night police reporter at the Daily Herald simply because it was kind of funny to have a cop reporter named Constable.

• The wonderful, lifelong friends made in newsrooms.

• The way this newspaper gave me the greatest gift by introducing me to Cheryl terHorst, who agreed to marry me more than 34 years ago.

• All the talented editors, copy editors, photographers and fellow reporters who corrected my errors, gave me good advice and tips, and made my work better, and for the folks in IT, advertising and circulation who made that possible.

• The law enforcement officers, firefighters, librarians, teachers and public servants who helped me get the information I needed.

• The thousands of people who shared their stories of joy, tragedy, triumph and failure with me, and for the effect those stories had on me. Obviously, I wouldn't have had a career without you.

• The realization that I will miss being a newspaper guy, but I'll get over it the same way I got over no longer playing baseball.

• My parents, wife, siblings, sons, in-laws and friends, who encouraged me to be a newspaper guy and supported that choice even on days when it would have been easier for everybody if I had been a civil engineer.

• The ability to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in August, and wish you all the kind of joy I've been given in my life. I've had fun. Thanks.

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