I’m ready to say goodbye to a year that produced some memories I want to hold forever and, of course, reflect on the tragedy that changed my life.
The number 13 scares superstitious people. As for all the time I spent visiting the hospital, funeral home and cemetery in 2012, I gladly welcome 2013 regardless of whether it contains a number many consider unlucky.
This completes my first year as a columnist. I had never written a column until last January and I continue to welcome a weekly deadline that started as fun but transformed into therapy.
Throughout the year I’m thankful to so many who’ve sent cards, electronic messages and kind words encouraging my writing. I’m especially grateful for the cards I received from my former teachers Beverly Goodwin and Joan Borders who began the year reading my column and now have moved on to Heaven.
There’s no doubt some columns flow while others don’t, but the process of writing is far from the stuff I endured in some of my college classes. I love to write about my experiences, the people who’ve influenced me, the places I’ve lived, my triumphs, my struggles and so much more. It’s writing from what I call “The Jim Valvano Formula.”
Valvano, who coached North Carolina State to an NCAA Basketball title in 1983, told the audience at the 1993 ESPY Awards Show about what we should strive to do every day of our lives. He died of cancer just eight weeks after delivering the speech.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day,” said Valvano. “We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
I hope at times some of my columns have made you laugh. I hope some columns have made you think or even moved you to tears. If I’ve ever achieved all of these in a single column, then it’s a writer’s dream. My life is so full of characters, memorable stories and events that I think they could fill up volumes of books. It’s my hope I can continue to write about some of these people, stories and events in the future.
Next week I’ve decided to take a break from writing and rerun the first column I ever wrote. It’s a piece devoted and dedicated to Carol Martin who died on Dec. 31 of last year. As I drove past her old home this week, my mind was flooded with memories of playing in her yard as a child. I guess you could say as an adult, I’m still hanging around her property. She occupied this space in Sunday’s Times-Georgian for more than 20 years.
Recently, the tragic school shooting in Connecticut and my son’s fatal accident on the Carrollton square remind us of the fragility of life. Unfortunately, life has a way of making us smile one minute and seconds later kicking us in the gut so hard it’s almost unbearable. So as we end another year, may we all take time to laugh, to cry and to think. May we spend more time with the people who truly matter in our lives. And may we all “take a cup of kindness yet” as the song says — “for Auld Lang Syne.”
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.