I got to the office this morning only to be greeted by an e-mail telling me that a dear friend's wife had passed away. For that matter, Phyllis herself was a dear friend.
Jack Boyle was my boss from 1988 through 1996. And since there were a number of Jacks in our work group, for me he quickly became known as "Boss Man Jack." This happened to be one of the darkest periods of my life. Jack and Phyllis were some of my biggest supporters and encouragers during those difficult times.
It was Jack who encouraged, actually more like insisted, that I go back to school and get my degree. And it was Jack and Phyllis who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself.
They were there cheering me on when I bought my first house. And who was there when I went through my divorce? Jack and Phyllis. I can't even begin to list everything that Jack and Phyllis did for me.
And if you never had the opportunity to sample Phyllis' cheese grits, then you missed out.
Just last week, I had a phone call from Jack checking up on me to see how things are going and to tell me that I had done well for myself. To which I responded, "It wouldn't have happened without your support and encouragement."
In all of my life, there are very few non-relatives that would warrant a trip from Anchorage to Bartlesville for a funeral, but this is one of those times. So I will catch a flight out on Wednesday morning, attend the funeral services on Friday and head back to Anchorage on Sunday morning.