by Ann Robson

Plays, like life, are divided into acts and scenes. The first act introduces the characters and lays the groundwork for what is to come. Depending on the number of characters and the complexity of the storyline there may be several scenes. The second act enhances the first and moves the plot along, again possibly with several scenes. The third act ties everything together. Characters complete what they are supposed to do. Actions enhance and complete the story. Then, depending on what has gone before, there may be a happy ending, a satisfying conclusion or a tragedy of some sort.

As I see my life, I have completed Act 1, am still working on Act 2 and am hoping for that happy ending in Act 3.

Act 1 goes from birth to adult to teacher to wife to moving away from home and starting a new life 100 miles away.

My Act 2 is long and interesting. I was active in my church women’s group serving as public relations chair for our diocese’s group. This required that I send information about our group to The Canadian Register, a national Catholic newspaper with bureaus in several dioceses across the country. One evening at a charity dinner, I happened to be seated next to one of our local editors and mentioned in passing that I thought the paper did justice neither to the women’s groups nor to women in general. He asked if I thought I could do better so, of course, I said I thought I could. This began a journalism career that has been part of my life ever since.

The front side of journalism was taught through osmosis by two very gifted priests. One had a great knack for writing columns to appeal to or anger almost everyone. The other was more intellectual and made us strive to be literate. From them I learned the value of humor and intelligence in dealing with the reading public.

I loved every minute of it.

Then we really moved away from home when my husband’s job took him to Fairmont, West Virginia for a year. Next we went back north to Oswego, New York for 14 winters. Those were special years as our daughter was born in Oswego. Running concurrently with motherhood, I re-entered the newspaper world and wrote for a weekly, a morning daily, a twice-weekly and a daily – in succession. Somewhere in there I edited the SUNY alumni magazine for a few years and did some freelance public relations work.

Next came a two-year stint in the Cleveland, Ohio area and I was able to do local government reporting for the Sun Newspapers.

We next moved to Kentucky where a brand spanking new aluminum plant had been built and needed my husband. Serious journalism was limited to reviewing books for the Bowling Green News.

After Kentucky we went back to Canada for two years and thus were able to give attention and care to some of our senior family members.

The last scene finds us in Detroit where I edited the
newsletter for the Tournament Players Club of Dearborn when not doing various community tasks.

Our Act 2 continues when we took early retirement and moved to North Carolina in June 1997. I assumed my husband would golf his heart out and I would play a lot of bridge and we’d live happily ever after. We have been happy but golf and bridge were supplemented with volunteer activities. I started submitting golf information from our club to The Pilot. One thing led to another and I was part of the freelance staff for a few years writing about caregivers and seniors.

When a delightful young editor asked me if I’d like to write for a new magazine, OutreachNC, I jumped at the opportunity. I never imagined that I’d get another chance at professional journalism. A few years later I compiled a selection of various columns from 50 years in journalism and produced a book.

I’m still writing (at least as of this issue) and still loving it.

Lessons learned: you never know what opportunity is just around the corner waiting for you and you’re never too old to try something new or to revive an old dream.

I’m still in Act 2 waiting for Act 3 and all that it might offer.

Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She may be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net .