As I sit here finishing off a granola bar and a bottle of water, thinking about what to write, I’m distracted by the train rolling past the window, carrying another load of Wyoming coal to the east.

It’s one of those days where there are so many things going through my head that it’s difficult to choose a place to start.

There has been so much funkiness over the past two months that it’s difficult to keep track. We’re still in May, but for whatever reason, my mind has been telling me this is the first week of June. Sometimes it would be nice to just knock a week off the calendar. Your birthday is this week? Sorry, you’re just going to have to skip it this year.

Then again, taking a week away makes the time go more quickly, and it already seems to be doing that. Some days it seems like just yesterday that my kids were little, then I realize my youngest is turning 22 this year. Wait, 23.

There are times when it feels like Rhonda and I have been married for 25 years, then I realize that it’s only been five. Other days, it feels like we just met a couple of years ago, then I realize it’s been almost seven years.

Ever watch those commercials for online dating sites and wonder where they get these people the call success stories? Rhonda and I are one of those success stories. Everybody has a story of how they met the love of their lives. Ours involves a pair of faces on a computer screen. One face led to another, and before we knew it we were chatting through the website, then exchanging phone numbers. As we talked, I realized that I had known her ex-husband for many years. As it turns out, we were likely sitting not far from each other at a high school awards event where our kids both received awards.

Soon after, we were brave enough to meet face-to-face, then go on our first real outing together. Our first real “date” was a Fourth of July trip to Fort Laramie where Rhonda was able to pet a baby calf. We went to the re-enactments, had some hard-tack at the bakery and some sarsaparilla at the saloon. If you haven’t had it, sarsaparilla kind of tastes like root beer that’s a bit bitter.

We laughed and talked with each other, getting to know some of the things that have shaped our lives. We talked about our jobs and families, you know, all the normal things.

Over the years, we’ve both changed physically. I know I’ve added a few pounds. My beard these days is way more salt than pepper. Different injuries have left me with an elbow that lets me know when it’s about to get cold, an irritated Achilles that makes me walk just enough “off” to throw off my alignment and make other things hurt, and a shoulder that just hurts most of the time. As people get older, I know the little aches and pains start to show, but I really feel like an overachiever there.

Rhonda has sat with me through kidney stones, a hernia and all those other things, so, really, she’s a saint. She’s the kindest, most giving person I’ve ever known in my life. And yet, she’s strong and fiercely protective of the people she loves. And when she loves you, she loves you with everything that’s in her.

I like to tell people that I didn’t get my daughter until she was already 18, but along with her came many more “daughters” who have been her friends for years and are now just a part of the family. I wouldn’t give any of them up for anything.

We met late in life, but I have always said, “Right person. Right Place. Right time.” I’m blessed to have found that person.

Huh. Turns out that I did have something to write about.


Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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