Dear friends and relatives,
The big news is that Steven got married. Our family is thrilled to welcome Kate, Scarlett (age 13), Penelope (age 11), and Dutch (age 10) into the Sheppard family. We had a fabulous celebration on October 7 that included many special moments, but two that stood out included:
The Ring Bearer
Worried that our three-year-old grandson, Gavin, would get distracted and not walk down the aisle as ring bearer, we talked it up in advance to the point where Gavin even told the pilot on his flight from Chicago to Houston, “I'm going to bring the rings to Steven.” He was totally prepared. Sure enough, he strode down the aisle confidently, avoiding stepping on any of the petals from the flower girl (his idea), and went straight to Steven. Unbeknownst to all of us, his role was purely ceremonial, as Steven already had the rings. So when Gavin got there, he threw his hands to his sides and said, "I don't have them."
Everyone was teary-eyed after Scarlett's performance of "I Guess I'm in Love" by Clinton Kane. Family members who had heard her sing were prepared for that, but all of us were moved by her speech that followed, which included:
"I am the lovely bride's and now Steven's daughter, and I couldn't be more happy... For a long time, I had hoped my mom would find someone who loves, cares, and supports her... It makes me happy knowing we have someone who will be there for us... When she and Steven started dating, we had been going through some hard times... and Steven brought us back... We had been missing this piece of our lives, and Steven came in, which brought us all happiness."
My sister, Patti, noted that typically when a man marries a woman with children from another marriage, the children are the baggage, but in Steven's case, the children are the prize. They love him.
Blake, Stephanie, and Gavin still live in Chicago, but the happy couple have traveled to Paris, Portugal, and The Azores. Apparently, The Azores is the Hawaii of Europe. Who knew? Blake is still managing logistics for Constellation Brands, which distributes beer like Modelo and Pacifico and wine like Meiomi nationwide. His job served us well for Kate and Steven's wedding. Stephanie manages global communications for the Morningstar investments insights firm. Gavin graduated from daycare and now spends his days in preschool. Teachers and doctors have warned that Gavin will use his above-average intelligence to outwit his parents. For Christmas, Gavin wants a firetruck and an ambulance – a nice upgrade from his first love of a garbage truck.
Sheryl is still a sought-after substitute teacher but is teaching less, working a few days here and there at three nearby Kindergarten-4th-grade schools. Her students love her but say the darndest things. One student said that he knew she was a grandmother because she has floppy skin on her neck under her chin. She still belongs to two neighborhood book clubs as well as a Bunco club. She and Scott did enjoy their trip to Bay St. Louis to reunite with college friends and time spent with the Lerdall clan in Cumberland, WI.
Scott's 30-month term as a homeowner association board member came to an end, and now he has more time to boil crawfish. He and Sheryl are looking forward to riding in their first Mardi Gras parade (Tucks on February 10) and their eleventh voyage on The Rock Boat. As age 65 is fast approaching, Scott is probably in his final year on the Strategic Foresight team at Autodesk. Some team observations from this past year include:
- AI will not doom us all as it's practically an arm's race to see who can be the first to establish guardrails for machine learning, privacy protection, and equitable application of the technology. Interactions between humans and technology will fortify physical capabilities, augment human cognition, alter social relationships, and extend the definition of what it means to be human.
- The combination of social media influencers and AI-generated content will enable a bustling economy for self-employed creators, disrupting conventional approaches to how money is made from subject matter.
- Although renewable sources like solar, wind, and advanced energy storage will help address environmental concerns, increased energy consumption for things like servers to power AI will increase fossil fuel use and continue the development of nuclear.
Although he now owns a pair of boots (no hat yet), the neighborhood Bourbon Club has changed California wine drinker Scott's alcohol of choice.
Unfortunately, Sheryl's mother, Jeanene, passed away this year. The Lewy Body Parkinson's Dementia eventually took its toll. She was with at least one of her faithful daughters 24/7 for her final weeks and was surrounded by family when she took her last breath. Holidays will be different from now on, but the bonds among siblings will always endure.
Well, that's the scoop. As always, we welcome visitors to stay with us.
Scott, on behalf of Sheryl, Blake, Stephanie, Gavin, Steven, Kate, Scarlett, Penelope, and Dutch