December 6, 2022

“Not all storms come into your life to create chaos. Some storms come into your life to clear the path.” — Diane Clemens

One of the great privileges of being a journalist is the opportunity to meet people at critical times in their lives — when there’s a terrible tragedy, or a great victory, or a shocking development.  As host of The Perfect Scam, I usually talk with people at a real low point: They’ve recently discovered the “love” of their life has stolen their life savings, or that an “IRS agent” was really an imposter, or that last-ditch cancer treatment was really a fraud.  These moments are horrifying, but occasionally, they are also clarifying. I am constantly in awe of the courage people show by telling me their story, in all its gory detail, all in the hope that someone else might avoid their terrible fate. It’s an incredible gift; a rare act of selflessness. And occasionally, one surprising benefit for the victim is the emergence of real, deep wisdom.

That’s what I found talking with Tom and Dianne Clemens recently. They’re a retired couple outside St. Louis, both former professors, who spent decades “serving” young adults — their word.  A few years ago, right after retirement, Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer. Aggressive treatment gave life back to her, and then the couple seemed to enjoy the forced isolation of Covid-19. Tom picked up the fiddle; Diane caught up on shows and “Facetimed” with their daughter and…

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