Fridays with Phyllis: Vol. 3-“Ensign Schehl”

"Let the Adventures Begin"

“Let the Adventures Begin”

If you are one of the blessed human beings on this earth to actually know Phyllis and the bundle of energy and activity that she is, then you have at least a glimpse of the adventurous person she is. If you are of the population that does not know her and continue to read this short series of entries then hopefully you will gain a little insight into the wild world of Phyllis Schehl.

I should note that we have changed a few names (pretty easy to figure this out) to simply protect the innocent.

As best I can figure, it was late March 1947. Phyllis Schehl has been teaching in the lovely community of Sheridan, Oregon for a short while. It’s spring break and time for an adventure. Prior to beginning her teaching career in Oregon, most all her life had been contained within the borders of the great state of Illinois, but now there is much of the Pacific Northwest to be explored. Without a great deal of planning, in fact, spontaneous would be the most appropriate word her, Phyllis decides a great way to end spring break week would be by catching a bus, a train, and finally a ferry to explore Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. Ah, nothing like exploring Vancouver in the Spring…seeing the water, the flowers, the beautiful gardens, the cuisine, the people, the culture, the history and not nearly enough time to experience it all. Phyllis did her best to use every minute of her time away, and now that last minute has arrived to catch the very last ferry in order for her to report for “duty” to her classroom Monday morning at Sheridan High.

Turns out, even back in 1945, one would do well to have a reservation for the ferry out of Vancouver.   When Phyllis arrived at the terminal to purchase her ticket home, even with her Illinois charm, she could not convince them to make room for just one more person. There now exists the very real possibility of her students sitting at their desks with no Miss Schehl to guide them.

Truthfully, the details get a little hazy here – or – Phyllis has selectively chosen to leave some out. All that I have been able to puzzle together is that somehow, some way, somewhere shortly after leaving the ferry terminal, she meets two young gents who happen to be enlisted in the US Navy. Petty Officers Martin Fenrik and Seaman Jeremy West. I don’t know if it was over a meal, over beers, or just what exactly, but what is important is that Phyllis has the opportunity to share her current crisis of needing to get back to Sheridan, Oregon by Monday morning. You have to hand it to a couple Navy guys to use all the resources that are available. It doesn’t take long for them to share with Phyllis that the airlines give those serving in the armed forces special rates and available spaces on most all their flights. Again, a little hazy on the details, but later that evening….”Ensign Phyllis Schehl” is on a flight to Portland, Oregon (I find it interesting here that her Illinois charm was not lost with a couple of the US Navy’s finest). Phyllis then catches a bus back to Sheridan with plenty of time to arrive for her Monday morning classroom duties. In fact, it was a much shorter trip than if she had gotten on that ferry.

Until next time, go out and have a “safe” adventure of your own. Oh, and it might need a little salt!

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Fridays with Phyllis Vol. 2: “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

A couple housekeeping vernonia

  1. Some of you have been so kind to share your memories of mom and have asked that I say hello, etc. Thank you so much. But some of you have signed in as anonymous, and I can’t for the life of me figure out who you are.   Would love to pass on your sentiments to Phyllis so if you don’t mind, leave your name or a way for me to identify who you are to Phyllis. If you are concerned about being public, please feel free to contact me by email, Really, thank you so much.
  2. I apologize ahead for the lengthiness of this one, but as you will see, some times takes a little longer to tell the whole story. Future ones will be shorter, I promise.

And now…..Vol. 2 of Fridays with Phyllis:“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

It was in the late 1980’s, the first rumblings of the world wide web, ah the internet, the end of the cold war, the Berlin wall coming down, the bay area earthquake at the world series, and I recall as if it were yesterday, the TV ad with the elderly woman in her home, on the floor, yelling, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  That was my introduction to the world of Life Alert, Alarm Alert, Medic Alert.

Fast forward a couple decades, and I’m quite happy to share with you that Phyllis is “fairly” faithful in keeping her “Alert” necklace close by her side or around her neck.   It wasn’t long ago, in the interest of saving money (a subject for a future blog) that she thought she would give a different company a try.   The company she had subscribed to for years worked great but this other company seemed to offer the same services for a few dollars less each month. And as Phyllis will tell you, those few dollars add up over the years.

The new device arrived on a Friday afternoon.   Mom invited me over to go through the directions and set it up with her. After just a little over an hour we had it all set up and even tested it out with the monitoring dispatcher to make sure all was operational. If the necklace monitor should ever be activated by pressing it or by a sudden movement, as with a fall, the company activates the speaker on the monitor that she is wearing as well as on the external separate speaker near the phone.   A voice asks if mom is ok and is she in need of assistance.   The company had us do a trial run that evening so that mom would know just exactly what would happen.

I was listed with the company as a back up contact if the alarm was triggered and mom wasn’t responding. I don’t think I quite made it all the way back to my house before I got my first call from the “alert” company, letting me know the mom’s alarm had gone off and she had not responded.   I returned to mom’s house happy to find that mom was fine, there was thankfully no emergency, and that mom had accidentally engaged the necklace alarm by simply bumping into the counter top. She did not hear the “dispatcher” come on and ask if she was ok (most likely a hearing aid issue, but again, a story for a future blog). Together we worked on adjusting the length of the necklace but I could tell mom was starting to have her concerns with how easy it was activate the alarm. We agreed to give it a week and see how it goes.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon. I’m at my office and I receive another call from the alarm company. They have informed me that the alarm has been activated, they have been unable to contact mom but they have been able to track, the GPS on the monitor and have located her to be at the Cornelius Post Office. They have notified local emergency services and they were on their way to the location. It took me a minute to gather my wits and I called our local county dispatch to see if I could possibly get an update on their current call to the Cornelius Post Office.   They were very kind, took my number, and promised to get back to me with any information they could share.

As that was happening, my other phone is ringing. It was my younger brother Bart, who was also on the call list of emergency numbers. He had gotten a call as well. He hadn’t gotten any details, only that mom’s emergency alert had been activated and there was no response. He works near mother’s house so he drove up to investigate. Sure enough, mom’s car was gone. I shared with him what was going on and he decided that he would drive into the Cornelius Post office and check it out. On his way to town a County Sherriff patrol car, lights flashing, sirens blaring, was headed out of town, and Bart was pretty sure where he might be headed.

Let’s fast forward just a little bit… it takes awhile, but I eventually am able to put the complete picture together.   Turns out that over the weekend, mom had activated the necklace on several occasions but did hear the dispatcher’s voice come over the speaker, “Mrs. Bass, are you ok? Do you need any assistance?”   Each time she assured them all was well.   Mom was becoming a little concerned that she might be reaching her monthly limit of “false alarms” and that soon she might start being charged. She decided this new system just wasn’t a good fit and she would go back to the old company. She put all the devices from the new company back into the box, wrapped it up, and took it to the Cornelius Post Office. Walking from her car to the post office, she hears a voice coming from inside the box, “Mrs. Bass, this is emergency alert, your alarm has been activated, are you OK? And do you need any assistance?” Mom, very calmly, replies into the box, “all is ok, sorry for the false alarm”.   I’m pretty sure at that point it must cross her mind that she hadn’t turned the alarm off. I’m sure she is thinking she could take the box back home, open it, turn the system off, re-box and then return to the post office? I know, seems like a lot of fuss. So, she decides to carry on to the post office. She pays for the return postage and is on her way to the local pharmacy for her next errand.

Now picture this if you can. The postal employee at some point tosses the box into an outgoing bin, activating the alarm. There is a voice coming from within the box at the bottom of the bin, “Mrs. Bass, this is emergency service, your alarm has been activated, are you OK? Are you in need of any assistance?” Upon no response from Phyllis, they call local emergency services and dispatch them to the post office. EMT’s have to drive right by the local pharmacy, where mom is picking up her prescription. My mother, being the compassionate person that she is, upon hearing the sirens, no doubt offers up a prayer to our heavenly Father to assist those who must be in such need.

Now, once the emergency services arrive at the Post Office, and finding no emergency, they dispatch a Washington County patrolman to mom’s house, which is where Bart has returned. The officer, who happens to be the same officer that assisted mom when she rolled her van in a ditch on the way to church a year prior to this, and miraculously suffered only a scratch (another blog for later) replied, “So, she’s still driving”.

Till Next time, and remember….”might need a little salt”.

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A few years before Fridays with Phyllis. Phyllis-the youngster!

I am often asked in my daily travels (to the store, getting gas, walking to the mailbox, Nia classes, yes, a pretty filled life) how my mom is doing. In responding to a family friend a few days back it struck me how blessed I am to be able to answer, “as wild and crazy as ever”.  In all honesty, that is true, and as of today, she being on the earth for 91 years, 5 months and 12 days, that is a remarkable thing to be able to say. And when I use the loving term “wild and crazy”, those of you that know her, well you know just what of I speak. She drives…but in her words, not “fast-fast”, just “sort of fast”. She dances most every Saturday night at the Pumpkin Ridge Grange Hall. She has a list of 13 things for her OR her children “to do” each day.  This is just a glimpse into her life.

All this to introduce a new “category” to my rather stagnant blog. Leave it to my mother, in her round about way, to give me something “to do” as well as add a little inspiration to getting back to sharing things with the world.

Why “Fridays with Phyllis”? My younger brother, my younger sister and I started congregating each Friday evening at mom’s house a number of years back to simply “catch up”. However, within a few weeks of the first gathering, our “catch up” time morphed into a Friday night “meal”.   My mother is of the generation and the personality that most all problems are solved, all stories are better told, and the world can be saved, over a good meal. As much as we protested and threatened to go on strike if she kept making meals, it was her idea and it isn’t going to end.

A few fun facts about my mother.  She was born Phyllis Schehl in 1923 in the rural world of Atkinson, Illinois. She is the middle child of Fred and Alma Schehl.   Her childhood was filled with exploring life on the farm with older sister Marie and younger brother Gene. Upon college graduation, she came west to Oregon in 1947 and started her teaching career at Sheridan High School. Crossing the bridge home one afternoon after school in that Norman Rockwell’ish setting, she ran into a young man by the name of Bob (Randolph Bass). Their eyes met, they dated, danced, and married.   10 children and many years later brings us to this, Friday nights with Phyllis.

My hope and intent for what follows over the next weeks, months, years, is a mix of memories past, current and yet to come, a few pearls of wisdom I have learned from Phyllis and a celebration of one of the most unique, interesting, inspiring, beautiful women alive today. IMHO (that’s “in my humble opinion” to show my children that I am somewhat up on the social “text”, fb, tweet lingo)

Feel free to share, to comment, but one rule, if it is not of a positive attitude, it will be deleted….as Phyllis would tell you…if you have not a good thing to say….don’t say it.

Till next week, and as Phyllis is prone to share at each meal, ”might need a little salt”.

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On any given Saturday night, you can find my soon to be 90 year young mother at the Pumpkin Ridge Grange Hall dance.  I know this for two simple reasons.  1.  We, her 9 living children, her many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren celebrated her 80th birthday at said dance.   2.  My mother lives approximately 345 yards from my front door, which in itself lends for a small book of many, many stories.   But for this occasion, it is simply to inform you that typically on Sunday afternoon, we will share a short conversation about how the dance was.

A few of the recurring comments from her have been about the dropping numbers in attendance and her concerns for driving herself home in the dark. 

SIDE NOTE 1:  Yes, she still drives, and very well for the most part.  But for that one exception a couple years back.  While running late for church, and being sure that God would forgive her, she ignored the local speed limit, just this one time (wink-wink).   She was unable to hold the road on that last country corner.  The van rolled several times but she miraculously walked out with just a few scratches.  Her request to the EMT’s when they arrived on the scene was that while 3 of her sons lived within 3 miles of the accident—was it really necessary to bother them? They might not be as understanding as the nice EMT’s about how this could have happened to anyone. 

BACK TO THE LESSONS:  It was the middle of last week while having the recurring conversation about the latest happenings at the dance, when two simultaneous thoughts came to me.  1.  Mother’s Day was this coming Sunday, and 2, I hadn’t gotten her anything yet.   In a moment of inspiration, or confusion from one too many thoughts in my head, I commented…”Mother, why don’t I take you to the dance this Saturday night?”   If the fact that her hearing aids were sitting on the kitchen countertop, the fact that she was continuing her conversation about who was and wasn’t in attendance the previous week was my clue that she didn’t hear my comment.   I waited for a pause in her story, when I proposed the question again.   “You mean, like a date?” 

And so it was set.  I would pick her up at 7:30 pm, drive up to the Grange Hall, share a few dances, and call it a night.  

Thus, just some of the lessons I can learn on a date with your mom!

LESSON #1:  NEVER TOO SOON TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!  It came in the form of a phone call from Mother on Friday afternoon.  While I thought I would jump in the river and learn the dance steps AT THE DANCE, Mom had the thought it might be well for me to stop by the night before the dance, we could spend some time going over the steps to the 3 dances that they do at the Grange.   Even as I write this, I’m not completely sure if it was so that I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself, or her. 

LESSON #2:  SOMETIMES 3 MEANS 6:  True, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but when mother was teaching me the steps to dance # 6, a little line dance they do near the end of the evening, it even dawned on me that there are in fact more than 3 dances to learn.   Suffice it to say, while I had the basics to the Foxtrot and the 2 Step, the Waltz was playing several tricks in my head, but now I have the Polka, and several more that I can’t ever pronounce, let alone dance.  While there may be 3 main dances, be ready for many, many more.

LESSON # 3- GPS VS. CO-PILOT MOTHER:  While I had only been to the grange hall once before, and it had been some 10 years, I felt pretty confident that I knew how to get there.  Just one of the benefits of driving mom to the dance was do discover there are in fact a multitude of possibilities of how to get to our destination.  Several different routes for the way up and even more options for the return trip.  Those guys and gals at Garmin have nothing on Phyllis.  So as not to be bored with just the directions, mom filled me in with the history to each of the dancers that would most likely be in attendance that night.  History is code for life stories. 

SIDE NOTES # 2 & 3:

A.-THE BUILDING:  Pulling into the rock driveway, parking in the grass lot, climbing the grand stairs, walking through the large double doors that open up to the pecan wood dance floor with the Band already playing the live music from the stage opposite where you just entered.  I couldn’t help but stop, to take a moment and just sense in my bones the history of this hall that was built in 1952.   I could hear the distant echoes of the music, the laughter, and the dance steps that have taken place just about each and every Saturday night since 1953.

B.-THE BAND:  This particular Saturday night, and for that matter, most dance nights, the band consists of a fine gentleman on the drums, a woman who is master of ceremonies and even more a master on the piano.   This particular saint of a woman wears many hats.  She selects the songs to be played.  She decorates the hall.  And at the close of each evening, during refreshment time, she updates everyone in attendance on the status of those who are not there and closes the evening with at least 2 jokes.   Sitting next to her is her more than capable sidekick on the accordion.  Rounding out the quartet is a forever-young woman on the bass guitar.    I know, the music is live, loud, dead spot on and all for the cover cost of $2.00. 

LESSON #4-WHEN MOM TALKS, BEST LISTEN: Just one of the initiation rights for any new member or guest is to get introductions to each and every member in attendance.  I had no idea that the history lesson on each person that mom shared on the drive up would be so useful so soon. 

LESSON #5-WHEN A FOX TROT IS LIKE A WALTZ IS LIKE A POLKA: On the far side of the stage is a sandwich board that lists a. the current dance, b. the dance on deck, and c. the dance in the hole.  As I sat for the first few moments of that first dance, looking at the fact that the Fox Trot was the current dance, with the waltz on deck, and with moms words from the lessons the night before…1-2 and 3, 1-2 and 3, my pulse was no doubt in the neighborhood of 150 BPM.   The aha moment came while watching the other gentleman on the dance floor, taking in their every step, I notice one stepping to a fox trot, one a two-step, a third….well I’m not sure.  Mother noticed my observation, leaned over to me and commented, “It really doesn’t matter which step you use, as long as you enjoy.”  And with that, we got up and I made my first attempt at the Fox Trot around the room.

LESSON #6- LESSONS FROM THE CHAIR:  There are a few “special” dances each Saturday evening.  And even thought I knew it was coming, I could do very little to keep the fears at bay.  It’s tagged “the chair dance”.  A number of chairs are lined up close to the stage and the women who care to dance line up behind the chairs.   My mission this particular dance was to take one trip around the room with my partner, (my mom) drop her off at the end of the chair line, walk to the front of the line and take another trip around the room with a new partner.  Thus, the nerves.  It’s one thing to dance with my mom, a whole ‘nother thing to attempt with someone I’d only met minutes before.  The dance step for this particular event was a simple 2 step, which while not even close to flawless, I believe if you were observing me with my mother as a partner, you would have at least recognized it as a two-step.  About ¼ way around the room with my first new partner, she was kind enough to say, “You’re doing great, (a pause) but let me show you how to really do this!”   And with that statement I discovered what it felt like to follow, as opposed to leading.

About ¼ way around the room with my 2nd new partner, I had a Déjà-Vu moment when she commented, “You’re doing great honey, but let me show you how to really do this.”  I learned that women at the grange don’t mind leading, and quite frankly, I don’t mind following.

LESSON #7- JUST DO IT:  I had the very great pleasure of dancing with at least 7 different wonderful women that evening.   Each sharing their encouragement and tips.   But the one thing, the one statement they each shared was, “I wish my son would take me dancing!”.   SO HERE IT IS GUYS & GALS:  WHATEVER IT IS YOUR MOTHER LIKES TO DO, SIT ON A PORCH AND CHAT, TAKE A WALK IN THE PARK, TAKE A DRIVE IN THE COUNTRY, IT IS THE GIFT OF YOURSELF AND YOUR TIME, THAT WILL MEAN MORE THAN ANY FLOWERS, ANY CARDS, ANY CANDY, AND LEAF BLOWER THAT YOU COULD GIVE HER.  I got lucky, and fell into spending time with my mother doing something she dearly loves to do.  A week later, she is still talking about it.  I am embarrassed and even a little ashamed that I have never thought of this before.  I promise you, it will not be another year, another 6 months, or even another 2 months before we do this again.  It is just too easy to give so little that means so much.   While I don’t know what the enjoyment or passion that your mother, your father, your spouse, your significant other, your son, your daughter is.   I do know it exists.   So here’s your assignment.    FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS, AND DO IT.   It’s that simple.

And for heaven’s sake…..Have FUN….Fred!


A Link, and some final thoughts on The Gate Keeper Premier/Elden Kellar Scholarship Fundraiser

The Link:  Hope you enjoy!

The Gate Keeper: The Story of a Corporate “Con” gone wrong!

The Final Thoughts:

1.  THANKS:   to all who came out to the Gate Keeper Premier/Elden Kellar Scholarship fundraiser.  It was one of the scariest/most enjoyable evenings I’ve personally had in a long time.   Thanks to your generosity, we raised just under $1000.00.  What a night!

2.  TAKES A VILLAGE:  I’m sure that you could create, shoot, edit a movie all by your little lonesome in your home…but why.  As I look back at the process, some of the most joyful moments have come from working on the project with others.  From working out the details with UniCorp properties to use the Lobby of one of their buildings, to working with the Law firm of Sather, Byerly & Holloway who graciously let us use their offices and conference room, to working with my friends, who doubled as our cast, and who were so gracious with their time and their talents.  And while only a couple of you have ever been in front of a camera or have ever acted more than a day in your life, you are all the best in my book and made this so much fun. (see the out takes at the end of the credits for sampling of fun).  And finally, working with Denzil Scheller and his staff, who donated the best venue ever to hold a premier/fundraiser, thank you again Denzil.

3.  JUST DO IT:  I recall watching an interview that Ed Burns gave when he shared the thrill and agony of putting together a film.  Just the sheer joy and pain of creating, filming, editing this little film AND THEN, inviting a few friends over to sit on the couch and watch your little baby.

Well, I can’t even begin to describe for you what the 48 hours building up to the premier was like.  My mind was filled with re-editing thoughts (in fact, I was making editing changes 8 hours before the premier).  My mind was also filled with the thought of “was this film really good enough?”  Really, people are going to spend some of their valuable time to watch this movie, I certainly didn’t want it to be a waste for them.  Fortunately, I have a close friend that I could share this fear that I had with.  He was kind enough to put his arm around me, pause, and with a most serious tone in his voice….”Bass, no one is coming because of your film, in fact, your little film could win an academy award, OR, it could be a dog, it doesn’t matter.  Folks are coming to support the Kellar Scholarship…pure and simple”.  Everyone should have friends like mine.  Not only was he right, the fact of the matter is that no one attending was a film critic, they were all friends who couldn’t have been more supportive.

My point to all you budding film makers…just do it.  Write it, film it, edit it, and learn from it.

4.  STORYTELLING AND FILMING:  I view myself first and foremost as a storyteller.  And while I have great strides to make in that area, I have a universe to learn about the technical side of filming.  I shoot with a Canon T2i.  It is what my budget allows me at this stage of my life.  There was a period when I lamented not having the T3i, or the 5D, or 7D, or this or that, if you get my drift.  But I have seen what guys like Luke Neumann (youtube, Neumann Films) can do with a T2i.  And yes I know he currently shoots with a 5D (see his latest short, “Copelandia”), and while I’ve never had the pleasure of having a conversation with Luke, I feel very safe in sharing that I know that he gets the shots he does for 2 reasons…He is very talented and he works very hard at it.  So until I put in a fraction of the time that he undoubtedly does learning his craft and gain a fraction of the talent, I will never again lament about shooting with my T2i.   I choose to view it as a sign of growth when you can admit to yourself that it really isn’t so much about the equipment, but how well you know it, and what you do with it.

Whatever you are currently lamenting over that you don’t have, get over it and do the very, very best with what has presently been gifted to you.

Whatever it is you have a passion to do…my advice…do it…and for heaven’s sake…..have fun….Fred

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How two of my lifelong paths merge!

The Elden Kellar Scholarship fundraiser/Gate Keeper premier is a just a few days away.  Amongst the last minute edits and the anxious feelings over publicly sharing my “baby”, here is the revelation of where these two separate paths I’ve been on actually came to me.

My Elden Kellar path:

If you look far enough back in my blogs, you will see that I attended a local catholic parochial school here in Hillsboro called St. Matthews.  My years there were filled, mainly due to the many wonderful dads who volunteered their time as coaches, with a plethora of after school sports.  There was the long-standing tradition of flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring.  During my 5th grade year, one of my classmates, and truth be told, easily the best all around athlete in our class, decided that we should have a track team.  I wasn’t sure what “track & field” was, but if Bill says it’s the thing to do, I was in.  So, one fine spring day, about 10 of us jumped on our sting ray bicycles after school, rode them across town to Hare Field and met Bill’s dad, who had volunteered to be our coach, AND, just happened to be the local high school’s head track coach.  This marks the beginning of my 40 plus year friendship with one of the finest human beings on this planet, Elden Kellar.

My Path of Good Story Telling:

It was also during my 5th grade year at St. Matt’s that our teacher gave us one of the most creative assignments I have ever had.  We were learning about the Revolutionary War as a part of out American History curriculum.  In English class, we were working on the basic elements of writing a letter.  As an assignment, our teacher merged both classes by having us choose a character from the revolutionary war and from the perspective of that person, write a letter to someone.

I chose to create a character that had survived the battle at Bunker Hill and found himself in a make-shift field hospital in the middle of nowhere.  I then wrote a letter from his perspective to his mother back home.  I became that character. I shared with her my injury, the battle, the friends I had lost, the friends that had survived, that I looked forward to returning to fight for all our freedoms, but most, I looked forward to returning home.

The day that our teacher returned our assignments, without acknowledging who the author was, she decided to share one of the letters.  Most likely due to my bad habit of daydreaming, it took her reading a few sentences into the letter before I realized it was my letter she was sharing.  It was one of the scariest and yet most thrilling times of my young life.

And it’s really only now, looking back, that I realize it was that moment that my passion and love for storytelling first revealed itself to me.

And now, after all these years, I have the thrill of merging these two paths at one event.  My premiere of The Gatekeeper, a short film that I wrote and filmed, as a fundraiser for the Elden Kellar Scholarship.

Come join us on April 11th, 7:30 pm, at the Venetian Theatre, and for heaven’s sake…..Have fun……Fred!


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My Reflections on being a Wedding Officiant:

Let's all feel this way about someone we love!

More years ago than I care to admit, I had the honor of serving on a local church staff.  One of the “perks” as I saw it at that time, was having the legal requirements to be able to officiate a wedding here in the state of Oregon.  As time passed, and life changed, and I left my position at the church, therefore, the ability to officiate a wedding.

As life would have it, a few years later I was asked by a couple whose daughter was recently engaged if I might be able to officiate the wedding ceremony.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to help them, but I would check the current regulations with the State, County and City offices.  Long story short, turned out, just as life does, things had changed and jumping through a few legal hoops allowed me to perform the ceremony.  Then, not long after, I received another call from other friends in similar need, and yes, the next chapter began.  I’ve probably now officiated in the neighborhood of some 30 wonderful couples beginning their new stage of life together.  It is a privilege and an honor, it is all the things you might think it would be.   Filled with some deep emotional moments and typically a little humor along the way.  I get to know some people in ways I would never otherwise get to.  I’ve been referred to as “Pastor”, “Father”, “Rabbi” (not sure why that one), “Reverend”, but as most of you know, I’m most comfortable being Fred.  I’ve officiated in churches,  on beaches, at lakesides, on mountain tops, golf courses, and at homes.   But one of my goals in the process is to always keep the focus on the who, never about the where.

A little side note (as I’m prone to do):  Far too often the bride will share with me after the ceremony, “Wow, it all happened, I can’t even remember being there!”  To any couple walking through the process of a marriage ceremony, don’t let all the planning, prepping, scheduling, decision-making steal the joy of your ceremony together.  Give yourself time to breathe, to relax, to “smell the moment”, you’ll never, ever repeat this exact moment again, don’t let it slip away.  Nuff said!

Over the years, a soft voice would periodically speak from the back of my mind, “I wonder why I continue to do this?”  While it is indeed a privilege, it is at the same time a little anxiety filled, wanting to find the right words, to meet and get to know the couple, their stories, (in filmmaking vernacular, the back story).   Wanting to create a ceremony that is just theirs.  It never really dawned on me that each of  these times it was prepping me for one of the greatest days of my life, January 26, 2012, to officiate over my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding.   From the moment Aaron & Marie asked if I would officiate, I was so thankful for all the others who had asked before.  So thankful for all the times I had considered it being my last one, that I kept saying yes as it prepared me so well for this moment.

To stand with Aaron & Marie, their families and friends at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, to share the highlights of their childhoods, their high school days, their college days, their ventures out into their careers, and the very special day of November 2nd, 2007, when their eyes met each other for the first time.  How over the next few weeks, Aaron convinced others to share some closely guarded information as how to contact her.   How he found the 20 seconds of insane courage to ask her out, the moment that changed their lives forever.  To share the story of the night they chose to venture their next steps, their next years, their lives together as husband and wife.  To share the words with them as they faced each other, with such pure light in their eyes, pure love in their hearts,  and spoke their vows to each other.  To have the honor to introduce them, for the first time, to the world as Mr. & Mrs. Aaron & Marie Bass.   Well, words will never convey what I felt, what I feel in my heart for them both.

Aaron, Marie, I will never be able to thank you enough.  I am humbled by you both.  I so look forward to lifetime of memories and magical moments to come.   I send my greatest gift, a father’s love, to you!!!!

I don’t know what you all are doing today….but for heaven’s sake….have fun…fred!!!

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