I’d like to think I learned a lot from my parents, school, ballet, violin, piano and maybe even college.

After college I was hired for the best job I ever had. I got to learn skills in over 100 areas, had one of the largest loads of work, made less than everyone else because I was single and was supposed to work around the clock.

One man gave me a chance, at life and being smart and hanging out with other smart people. His name was Doug and he changed my life. I was no longer a shy big fish in a little pond, I was a swimmer who kept up with all the really smart people around me.

Doug died the other day. I never had a rapport with him 25 years ago because he was scary to a little kid like me. I would like to send his family my respect for his life and how he changed mine.

He taught me how to learn to talk to a military officer and I ended up having one marry us, my surrogate parents, a Naval Fleet Captain, Ret.  He married us over 11 years ago and nearly two years ago we flew to his burial at Annapolis where his widow, my dear friend, got to meet SecNav and get a memorial coin.

Doug was in on my first interview which I blew, big time. They asked me if I knew insurance, no. McKinney’s? Those were the law books. I asked who’s McKinney? That was Friday. Monday I had a job, and my life would have been vastly different if I’d taken the job as head of PR at a celebrated arts facility nearby and I may have never met my husband.

Both jobs paid little to nothing. I was expected to be smart and learn anything they threw at me, and I did. Five years later when I left I knew at least fifty areas of knowledge, it was a decade later when I fully realized I was writing laws for 34 million people. That was scary.

I never knew how to deal with Doug as he was a tough egg to crack and I didn’t know how to crack an egg and know a soft inside, even with my father. Doug was ex-military and I didn’t even know that. Years ago I met the mother I always wanted and my surrogate dad, that Navy Captain who married us. His widow is a dear friend and their sons have called me “sis” for many years.

Whilst I always got quiet around Doug I was the person to whom he tasked to take care of his home and pets while he and his family were away. I’d like to think there’s a synergy there because I’ve since had at pet or two all my life since then, have worked with shelters and spay/neuter and everyone calls me to take care of their pets. There’s no money involved at my age, just neighbors helping each other out, but he was my first “client.”

In the end, Doug fostered relationships that made us a family. We only competed against each other for promotions, and worked in collaboration to read each others’ papers for readability and errors (pre-computer) and The McGraw Team did the U-T and NYT crosswords at five o-clock each Friday as a competition.

I sat Doug down at a party and told him I was at the end of my rope in a current position. The next day, after a horrific struggle at the last job, the current one was a dream. When I gave notice to move elsewhere, outside the family, I was called in by my chairman to go over the annual report. It was a surprise party with cake and everything. I spoke to this Chairman’s son recently and he did remember me.

God bless Doug M and know, family, that he is remembered, even by old kids who knew him over 30 years ago. We always wanted to be better. Cheers to all families, Dee


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