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Buddy was the most wonderful man I have ever met.

Lisa Sygutek

Feb 14, 2024

While you are all celebrating Valentine’s Day today with the people you love, I’ll be remembering one man in my life I loved beyond words.

While you are all celebrating Valentine’s Day today with the people you love, I’ll be remembering one man in my life I loved beyond words.

It just seems like yesterday I followed the ambulance from Buddy’s house to the hospital to have him die in my arms while I rubbed his head and told him how much I loved him and what type of impact he had on my life. I remember holding him and thinking, “How am I going to live my life without him in it?” After losing my mother and father in short succession, I wasn’t sure I could deal with another loss; I wasn’t sure I was strong enough.

It’s surreal to sometimes think that I buried the most important three people in my life all within 30 months of each other. When it’s quiet and I’m alone, it still takes my breath away.

Every day I walk into work, I look into his office and I can see him sitting behind his desk answering the phone and doing his editorials. He hated answering questions so he would yell, “Lisa, you need to deal with this!” I can still hear him in my head and I smile.

Buddy was the most wonderful man I have ever met. He was opinionated, but kind. He was friendly to everyone he met but stalwart. He was my best friend and a grandparent to all my boys.

I have learned a lot through grief. I have learned how to live by watching others die. I have learned to never settle because you don’t want to die with regret. I have learned to not judge anyone, because we have not walked in his or her shoes. I have to say that in my 30s, I was a judger and a gossiper. I don’t do that anymore with anyone.

After graduating from university, I was set to conquer the world. My future life did not include three boys, but rather a corporate job in the city. I was going to do things and make a name for myself.

I had visions of being in politics on a large scale. I had plans. It was a hard pill to swallow when I got pregnant and worked at the Pass Herald. For years, I thought I had wasted my life and education. Now as I look back and my boys are turning into men, I realize that I was able to attend all their concerts, all their milestones, because I worked at the Pass Herald.

Through the paper I met some incredible contacts that later became friends like our MP John Barlow and have been able to join his EDA board, helping give a voice for our community. I am President of Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association representing all weekly newspapers in Alberta.

I have run for council, which I never would have done when Buddy was alive. I’m still not sure he has forgiven me from heaven. This little paper has opened up a whole bunch of doors for me.

I was able to go to work at 1ish (Lisa time) and leave whenever I wanted, but most importantly I was able to walk through the front door of the Pass Herald and spend five days a week with Buddy Slapak. Looking back, I really think I won the lottery. He was the most amazing man I have ever met. He was like a father; a mentor and he made me a better person. He was my best friend and he was so proud of the woman I was becoming - he was my champion. 

How lucky am I to have had that wonderful man in my life? How blessed am I to be so loved unconditionally? A lot of times, he’d answer the phone and I would hear him say, “Let me get Lisa. She’s got six years of university and she chooses to work at the Pass Herald.” He was so proud of me. He made me feel invincible.

So today, as I reach another day that I’m forced to remember what I have lost, I will celebrate the love of my life, Buddy Slapak. The world was better having you in it and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and miss you with everything I am, but with that hurt comes comfort that I was blessed to have you in my life.

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