This is a column I’m not happy writing.
A week ago, I received news of the loss of one of my high school classmates. Losing a loved one is never an easy thing and it’s no different when one of your childhood mates loses their life prematurely.
When you get the word a fellow classmate passes away, two things happen — you can’t believe he or she passed away and you begin to feel a bit mortal. You find yourself thinking about your own life and death. It makes you realize how lucky you are to be still alive.
Andy Hreha turned 60 this past March and, when that happened, he knew he was in trouble physically. He was suffering from heart and lung issues and needed to address his kidney problems before his heart issues could be addressed.
In order to proceed further, he needed a kidney transplant so he took to social media for a plea for a kidney. Unfortunately, a kidney was never found.
Andy was good guy, hard worker and adored his daughter Annarella whom I had the honor of meeting a few years back.
In the last few years, Andy lost a sister and a brother. His mom Ann had a stroke and lived at home for years before she, too, passed away.
In failing health, Andy had to make a tough decision to either stay on the west coast to be a full-time dad or to come back to the area to take care of his ailing father. He decided to do the latter.
Over time, he, too, took ill..
In high school, Andy was our team’s starting quarterback and, even though we did not have a champion season our senior year, he was a good team leader.
I never knew Andy to be down or sad. He was always upbeat.
My class had a little over 300 people. Andy’s death makes 32 classmates gone. I have knowledge of 128 of my fellow classmates but I still don’t know where at least 150 of them are. We may have more deceased than 32 — that’s pretty alarming.
Even though Andy did not receive a donated kidney, he was an organ donor. I understand his eyes were donated, giving someone the chance to see.
In the end, Andy’s giving nature gave one last time.
One of his last wishes was for everyone to consider donating organs, especially kidneys. His family wishes you to donate a kidney in Andy’s name with The National Kidney Foundation at www.kidney.org.
Sixty years old is far too soon to leave the planet. I hope Andy made it to the other side to reunite with his mother, brother and sister.
Annarella has a great guardian angel looking over her, that much I know.
There’s nothing like a little excitement when the president of the United States pays a visit to Wyoming Valley.
I’ve never been to a political rally; it’s not my thing. When it comes to politics, I try to keep my opinions private. So I don’t have deep enough political convictions to attend a rally like the one at the Mohegan Arena Thursday.
That said, I had to cover my first political rally.
I arrived at the arena after 1 p.m. for a rally that was going to happen at 7 p.m. Needless to say, it was a very long day. I left the grounds after 9:30 p.m.
There was no time to edit photos at the arena. I had to edit in the car and send the photos from my laptop. With the humidity high, I welcomed getting back in the car with the air conditioning.
There’s always a bit of excitement when working and editing in the field.
My job was outside the arena; I had to photograph the excitement by President Trump supporters followed by photographing the Trump protesters down the street near Starbucks. The only thing was, and nobody filled in a few of the press agencies, once you left the arena parking lot, you were not allowed back until the president left the area. Very frustrating, especially since I had to edit down a few hundred photos.
Highland Boulevard was lined with PA State Police, county constables and other law enforcement agencies but one single Secret Service agent ran the entire operation. He was a very nice guy, stern as you can imagine, but he had a job to do as did I. He did his job and my job had to wait until the president left the complex.
Hats off to the State Police for doing a great job. There were a few dozen Troopers from Dunmore, Wyoming and Hazleton barracks who put in a very long day, as well.
It was amazing to see the different sides — the pro-Trump people and the anti-Trump people. At times, both sides were very vocal, sometimes downright mean but, for the most part, the majority of people were respectful of the press and orderly in general.
It was an interesting assignment; I love challenges like that. It was fun meeting media from all parts of the state and country to rub elbows with and it was nice seeing locals in the crowd.
Instead of watching a rally like this on the TV, I was actually a part of the news. That was very gratifying.
Quote of the week
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford, American industrialist
Thought of the week
“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” – Irv Kupcinet, American columnist
“Like timidity, bravery is also contagious.” – Munshi Premchand, Indian writer
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at email@example.com.