Life often moves us in strange directions. Sometimes the twists and turns we experience are happy, wonderful, unexpected events. Occasionally the moments that shape our lives are profound and gut-wrenching.
With either, though, there are occasions when we find ourselves at a fork in the road. Standing at the fork, we are faced with making a decision. And typically, those decisions are never easy to make.
I am standing at that fork in the road and the road that brought me here has shaped the person I am today.
For nearly six years now, I have written a column that has been followed by thousands of our readers. The happenstance of being afforded the ability to write this column has been one of the more serendipitous moments of my life. Writing this column has been a happy, wonderful, exciting journey - one that I never thought I'd be fortunate enough to experience.
My good fortune has enabled me to share moments of time with you that have included people I've met, situations I've endured and the pure, heartfelt emotions of a woman in growth.
My friend, Harold Dickey, calls my writing "plain." His comment is not intended as an insult, but as a compliment. I am honored by his description, because I am an ordinary woman, sometimes blessed enough to live an ordinary life with occasional extraordinary experiences. But my journey as a writer for a newspaper has been anything but ordinary.
I came to the Lodi News-Sentinel as an upper-level manager, not as a writer. As much as I love my job, being able to write this column has been the icing on the cake. And the experiences of being a writer for a newspaper will stay with me forever.
I became an unwitting advocate for patients pitted against a local IPA several years ago. The patients, and the IPA, survived the ordeal. Everyone may have been a little worse for wear, but hopefully everyone became a little more educated about the state of medical care in California.
It could have been called the great gumball caper - the Lodi Lions Club complained that a gumball vending company wasn't sending the club its share of proceeds from gumball sales in Lodi. After the column appeared, the club received what it had been trying to get for several years: A check totaling more than $2,000.
I've written about those men who have served their country and their multigenerational experiences - a World War II veteran, a vet from the Vietnam War, and a chief petty officer retiring after 20 years of service in the Navy. I was humbled by the experience.
But, most of all, I've written about the experiences of a woman and her family - my family - and the ever-changing role of a mother affected by the passage of time.
Your kind comments about this column and its writer will never be forgotten. I have saved every letter, every e-mail, every message you have taken the time to send my way. In fact, the file I keep them in is bulging!
But trust me when I say that I've been honored to be able to share so much with all of you. And I thank YOU, for the pleasure was mine.
As gratifying as writing has been, and as much as I've enjoyed the comments of all those who have chosen to read my column, I am still at that fork in the road. Turning back isn't an option, and I only hope and pray that the decision I make, whether to turn right or whether to turn left, will sustain me.
As such, this will be my last column.
The future is uncertain, but I am certain of one thing - the road I'm traveling will take me to new adventures. I'll still be working here at the Lodi News-Sentinel, but I'll be turning my focus and energies in other directions. And perhaps, one day, this road I'm traveling on will bring me here once again.
Theresa Larson is the administration manager for the Lodi News-Sentinel.