Dear faithful reader, friends and extended family:
It is with heavy heart I pen this note to let you know my trail ride is rapidly drawing to a close. All the sand in the hour glass of my life is about gone. Some of you may recall earlier mentions by me referencing my extraordinary good fortune in successively holding at bay for 13 years a rare form of an always fatal neuroendocrine cancer.
I was already in stage IV when diagnosed. Doctors estimated I had six months. I decided to seek a second opinion. I packaged up all my tests, my CT’s, my MRI’s, monthly blood tests, etc., and sent them to M.D. Anderson in Houston. This hospital is considered the world’s best for treating my affliction (coupled with an earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.).
To my stunning surprise they refused to see me. To their credit, they later apologized, but at the time I was pretty disgusted.
The Lord works in mysterious ways though because I ended up at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Center. A team was assembled and an aggressive counter-attack strategy developed. Whatever we did, it worked for 13 years - a miracle of modern medicine coupled with the power of prayer.
Thus, I was able to see two beautiful grandchildren born who have extraordinary talents, as well as all our children mature and happy with fulfilling employment. I also decided to get back on the stage of Idaho politics by writing a weekly public affairs column carried by five of Idaho’s newspapers. In addition, I wrote four books, two that further amplify appropriately the unmatched legacy of the former four-term Idaho Governor and Secretary of the Interior, Cecil D. Andrus.
It was my honor and privilege to work for and with him directly for nine years and indirectly for another thirty years. He was a one-man graduate school in politics. Because he valued my counsel, through him I was able to play a major behind the scenes role in shaping the strategy that ensured protection of the Alaska lands and, specific to Idaho, shape the strategy and program that ultimately would see Idaho free of all radioactive material.
My great regret is I could not persuade him to run for the presidency in 1988. To my last breath I’ll believe he could have won and would have been terrific.
As I approach the end of the trail ride, I want to focus on the future rather than the past. Though a long-time “business Democrat,” if still around in November, I intend to vote for Brad Little for governor. He is more than qualified, has paid his dues, has criss-crossed the state, knows all the issues and now that he is out from under the shadow of Governor Otter, will be free to adopt his own approach to solving the challenges.
He is especially aware of the need for Idaho to reward its teachers through better pay and to provide more state support. He knows that all Butch and the Legislature have done these last few years is shift their cuts to over-ride levies in most of the state’s school districts.
As I look to the future, I tend to be optimistic. While Idaho will never produce another Cecil Andrus, the state will continue to put forward the Brad Littles, the Len Jordans, the “Doc” Robins, the Phil Batts. All were good conservatives, but all also recognized government had a role to play in helping those who cannot help themelves.
However, it has to be done within our means. No deficit spending and then kicking the can of debt down the road for our children and grandchildren to pay off, which is what our worthless, gutless Congress has been doing.
Besides having faith in the Idaho voter, I also put great stock in the land itself. Idaho is full of scenic wonders that inspire and restore one’s soul. Even ultra-conservatives recognize the need to preserve and protect the special places people have come to cherish.
Rather than focus on my feelings and thoughts about the fading of the light, and you can rest assured I am not going gently into the dark night, I’d rather look to the future. I believe that the sun is still rising, that Idaho’s best days are yet to come and that rising sun shines over a land and its people that I have had the privilege to be part of.
Until we meet again, travel your trail with the Almighty beside you and trust God always and in all ways.