Nearly 40 years in the newspaper business, 36-plus of which has been spent in Aransas County, there’s not much that catches me off guard.

That was not the case this past Saturday.

I’m not a regular attendee of Texas Press Association (TPA) conventions, but for some reason, I signed up to go to this year’s gathering at Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston. Scheduling just worked out this year.

Little did I know I would be the recipient of an award – the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership.

I love the Rockport-Fulton community. It’s where my wife and I have lived our entire married life. It’s where we raised our family. It’s where we collectively hurt and continue to rebuild our lives after the devastation brought to our doorstep by a storm named Harvey.

I am in no way the perfect community newspaper publisher, but my heart has been, and always will be firmly rooted in what I believe is best for our community.

Through the years I have experienced many highs and lows, and the highs have far exceeded the low moments.

It’s called life.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to serve you in this capacity for more than 3-1/2 decades.

I was sitting at the awards banquet trying to finish my meal when the TPA president called out my name.

I was speechless … imagine that!

I walked up to the stage after the president read a resolution from Rep. Geanie Morrison.

They took my picture, which was another awkward moment, since I’m usually on the other side of the camera.

I was then asked to say something.

Shortly into whatever I was saying, three of my five grandchildren snuck onto the stage without me seeing them, tugged on my pants, and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Pick us up Poppie.”

The crowd roared and I was speechless, again.

My wife managed to pull off the complete surprise, when there were many opportunities for the secret to have been let out of the bag.

My two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandkids, and my brother were all in the shadows, knowing what was about to happen.

I almost canceled the trip because my sister’s mother-in-law passed away last week and the funeral was Saturday.

My sister and brother-in-law were planning to make the trip to Galveston, as well, but didn’t do so for obvious reasons.

Now I know why my sister didn’t sound disappointed when I told her we wouldn’t be going to the funeral.

Looking back, I would love to have seen how my wife handled the change in plans if I had canceled the convention reservations in order to go to the funeral.

Or better yet, how she would have reacted if I had decided to sleep late Saturday, which I seriously considered doing except for the fact there was a speaker I wanted to hear, prior to the awards ceremony.

One granddaughter lives in Galveston, so my wife left the hotel early to watch her ballet practice Saturday morning. Little did I know she was spending time with “both” daughters.

A good friend and former publisher recorded all the action, which turned out being a good thing since my wife accidentally stopped videoing right after she started videoing. I was able to share the moment with my 89-year-old parents who live in a nursing home in New Braunfels, as well as with my mother-in-law and other family members who couldn’t make it to Galveston.

As I walked off the stage, with grandchildren in tow, the TPA president said, “I’m just going to turn the rest of the program over to Mike’s grandkids.”

It means a lot to be honored by your peers, but let there be no doubt, anything I may have accomplished in my career is due, in large part, to you, our valued readers.

Thank you for letting me serve you the past 36-plus years.

Until next week, have a good week.

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

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