Readers share their 2023 highlights from throughout the Inland Empire


David Allen | Contributed

Who says there’s no good news? In response to my query here for the best thing that happened to you in 2023, responses rolled in. Some of you said your families expanded this year. “Due to happy chance, both of my daughters were married in 2023,” says Aggie Jenkins of Jurupa Valley. “They each waited a while for ‘the one’ and both men were certainly worth the wait.” The weddings, one in spring, one in fall, brought together family and friends. “I am at the age when family tends to gather more for funerals,” Aggie says, “so this year was a welcome and happy change.” “The highlight of this year was the birth of my first grandchild in November. Happiest day of 2023,” says Tressy Capps of San Bernardino. “I got the news while I was in Hawaii.” She attached a photo of the sunrise that day.

Elizabeth Adame of Riverside welcomed her first granddaughter, as did Gloria Perry of Jurupa Valley, while Bob Terry of Alta Loma and Jeanne Blackburn Munz of Redlands each became great-grandparents. Some of you gave birth to creative projects. “The best thing that happened to me in 2023 was the completion of my book. After 13 years, my writing partner and I held a copy in our hands. The last word had been written and the final edits made,” says a satisfied Walter Parks of Riverside. “As a writer, I am sure you appreciate that special moment.”

I do. I like writing, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer having written. Wanda DeHaven Pyle of Claremont has published five novels of historical fiction, more for personal pleasure than monetary reward or attention. You can imagine her surprise, then, when two book clubs, one local, one in Oregon, chose a book of hers to read, engaged in a thoughtful discussion and encouraged her to keep writing. “It was truly a highlight of my year,” DeHaven Pyle says.

Meanwhile, Steve Lech of Riverside, who writes a regular history column about Riverside County, finally finished and published his book about the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. “That was too long in the making,” Lech admits. Which reminds me I still need to both read his book and ride the Tramway. “I started my Spanish podcast ‘2 Gatos en Tierra de Perros’ with a friend I attended school with in Madrid, Spain, in 1980-81,” says Joe McGaha of Montclair. “So far, we have interviewed journalists, lawyers and politicians, and we’re just getting started.” Some of your news involved pets.

Michelle Dubas of Ontario took her oldest dog to the vet, who reported that Opal wasn’t strong enough to survive surgery to remove a mass in her chest. As an alternative, she says, the vet suggested “that we could just take her home and love her, feed her and treat her like a queen.” That was in January 2023. Opal is thriving with this hospice-like home care. “We are hoping,” Michelle says, “that we can treat her like a queen in 2024 as well.”

When Sue Payne of San Bernardino looks back at 2023, the best thing, she reflects, may be simply that she had “an entire year of excellent health,” allowing her “to appreciate and enjoy not just some days but every day.” “My great experience in 2023 was turning 90 years old,” Dick Hulse of Upland says. “My mother died at 50 and my father at 65. I have had a number of medical problems so reaching 90 was an accomplishment.

My excellent brain health is as good as when I was 30.” If I can’t find my car keys one day, perhaps Dick will know where to look. Art Murphy of Moreno Valley promised in this space a year ago to lose 30 pounds, and he has. “I just cut out most of the junk food I love, increased my activity and try not to eat anything after 6 p.m.,” Art shares.

He’s a faithful subscriber and reader, but I think even more of him now that there’s less of him. Julia Parra of Upland had a left hip-joint replacement after a couple of years of walking with a limp. After physical therapy, Julia says, “I now am looking forward to traveling, hiking, pickleball, working out at the Claremont Club and whatever else presents itself. Look out, 2024, I’m back!” JoAnne McKaughan of Upland hadn’t thought she had done much in 2023 until my column prompted her to think back.

Besides travels with husband Bob to Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Paso Robles, she drove to Claremont to take in a bagpipe concert. “Which was excellent and which you’ve missed for some reason for four years,” she chides. Avoiding bagpipe concerts is among my 2023 highlights, thank you. Genevieve Tyler of Riverside’s highlight came Dec. 15 at the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn. Not the lights, but the entertainment by the Ramona High arts magnet program.

Students were “magnificent,” Genevieve marvels, with piano music, singing and choreographed dancing, which included gymnastics. “I was just awestruck,” she says, and left with the thought that with high achievers like this, the future is in good hands. Thanks to everyone for sharing your good news and helping make the past two columns a bit brighter.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various author’s articles on this Opinion piece or elsewhere online or in the newspaper where we have articles with the header “COLUMN/EDITORIAL & OPINION” do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints or official policies of the Publisher, Editor, Reporters or anybody else in the Staff of the Hemet and San Jacinto Chronicle Newspaper.

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