SHORT STORY Weekly Under 6,000 DivisionFIRST PLACE: Coastal Observer Charles Swenson Danger: Keep off double entendres BY CHARLES SWENSON ting the public on notice.” COASTAL OBSERVER Not that the town actual- ly owns the groins, although Some people just can’t keep it participated in a state-spon- their hands off Pawleys Island’s sored project to rebuild them groins. as part of a beach nourishment Well, not the groins them- project in 1999. “We’re not say- selves, but the signs attached ing we do or we don’t,” Otis to them. said, adding that there has nev- “People take those signs,” er been a suit stemming from Mayor Bill Otis said. “We think what could be called a groin in- because they have the word jury. ‘groin’ on them.” Along with the new, and So the town has replaced hopefully less titillating, signs, signs that used to read “Dan- the town has added brass num- ger Keep Off Groin” with a less bers to the posts. That will al- anatomical message: “Danger low people to use the groins as Keep Off.” reference points during emer- There are 24 rock and con- gencies. “They’re mile posts, crete groins on Pawleys Island, they really are,” Otis said. starting just south of Pawleys Midway Fire and Rescue has Pier and running to the end of a list of the numbered groins the island. They are built per- and the corresponding street pendicular to the beach in order addresses for the house closest to trap sand that moves in the to the north side of each one. Charles Swenson/Coastal Observer current parallel to the shore. There are no plans to extend “People do get hurt on the the numbering system beyond New signs drop the word ‘groin,’ an invitation to theft, groins,” Otis said. “We’re put- the groin field, Otis said. and add a number.
SHORT STORY Weekly Over 6,000 DivisionTHIRD PLACE: The Gazette Outlook good, not so good BY FRANK JOHNSON Forecast Luncheon was both The Lowcountry’s unem- must change, he said. “We Frank Johnson The Gazette South Carolina’s Lowcountry uplifting and sobering. The event took place Jan. 20 at Trident Technical College’s ployment rate (7.8 percent) is lower than the state and nation’s, he reported. must start treating education not as a social issue, but as an economic one,” he said. is leading the way in an eco- North Charleston campus, and Although the housing market Shealy said “drastic changes” nomic recovery, and the future drew community leaders and remains sluggish, Yandle pre- are unavoidable on the federal T looks bright. chamber members from across dicted that South Carolina as a level, with such action as feder- That’s the good news. Berkeley County. whole “will fully recover” al cuts in Medicaid a real possi- The bad news is, higher taxes Two experts took the podium from the recession by 2015 at bility. w or steep budget cuts may be to share their economic insight: best, or 2017 at worst. Americans have “gotten w unavoidable to fix state and Bruce Yandle, a distinguished The United States, he remind- more government than we’ve M federal governments that have professor and Dean Emeritus at ed his audience, still has the paid for,” he said, and added A grown out of whack over the Clemson University, and Mike world’s largest economy by far. that budget cuts or tax increas- J decades. Shealy of the South Carolina With a focus on government es will eventually be the only t The Berkeley Chamber of Finance Committee. budgets, Shealy’s message two options to correct the situ- Commerce’s 2012 Economic Yandle’s presentation was stood in contrast to his counter- ation. f filled with optimism for the part’s. Lowcountry, the state and On the state level, he said, r indeed the country. income growth does not equal “Things are really getting bet- the general fund revenue ter,” he said. “Retail sales … growth in the budget, which r have fully recovered (to pre- has led to state agency budgets recession levels). Industrial being slashed in recent years. M production will have fully “If this continues, it will be dif- recovered by 2013. ficult to keep doing the things “You are sitting in the the (state does now),” he said. strongest part of South Shealy pointed to education Carolina. This is the golden ter- as one area that always gets cut ritory for our state right now.” first in lean times. That attitude Photos by Frank Johnson/Gazette Bruce Yandle (left) and Mike Shealy share their views.
SHORT STORY Weekly Over 6,000 DivisionSECOND PLACE: Greenville Journal Construction expected Most of its 100 students are Baptist. Many come from impoverished and to start in March Cindy Landrum BY CINDY LANDRUM | STAFF disadvantaged backgrounds and demographic groups that typically don’t do well in school. But over the past TWO STUDENTS raised hundreds 15 years, 94 percent of dollars by setting up a hot of students at St. chocolate stand on cold winter days. Anthony’s, which A woman who lives in the runs through the neighborhood gave 35 cents because sixth grade, went that’s all she had in her pocket at the on to graduate from Tuttle time. high school. More Businesses and corporations than half of those students went to pitched in, too, to help St. Anthony’s college, said Fr. Patrick Tuttle, a of Padua Catholic School to raise Franciscan friar and St. Anthony’s $4.67 million of the $5 million it pastor. needs to build a new school. The school calls among its former That the tiny parish and school students a federal appeals court community in Greenville’s West End judge, business owners, lawyers, was able to raise the money seems teachers and an actor, Orlando almost miraculous to some, but not Jones. nearly as miraculous as what the “I’m not an expert on what makes school does with its students. miracles, but the children and what
SHORT STORY Weekly Over 6,000 Division FIRST PLACE: Myrtle Beach Herald Charles D. PerrySurfside pastor fosters fuzz for cause
SHORT STORY Weekly 2/3 Times DivisionTHIRD PLACE: Chronicle-Independent Miciah Bennett Trenton Lee Stokes PTHS student excels in handwriting By MICIAH BENNETT holds its own contest and en- C-I (Camden, S.C.) staff reporter ters the winning student from firstname.lastname@example.org each grade. The handwrit- ing was judged according to Who says good penmanship Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibil- is a thing of the past? ity: size, shape, spacing and Trenton Stokes, 9, a stu- slant. The company awards dent at Pine Tree Hill School over $100,000 in educational (PTHS), is one of 16 winners materials and cash prizes in the 21st Annual National to participating schools and Handwriting Contest. More award winners. Zaner-Bloser than 300,000 students partici- is a subsidiary of Highlights pated in the competition and C-I photo by Miciah Bennett for Children whose focus is on approximately 3 million have educational services. Pine Tree Hill School third-grader Trenton Stokes won a national award entered the contest during its Trenton said he didn’t know for his cursive writing earlier this month. Stokes was one of 16 chosen 21-year history. from more than 300,000 contestants who entered the 21st Annual Na- Each participating school See Stokes, Page A8 tional Handwriting Contest.
SHORT STORY Weekly 2/3 Times Division SECOND PLACE:The Press & Standard Brantley Strickland Into the sunset
SHORT STORY Weekly 2/3 Times DivisionFIRST PLACE: The News and Reporter Travis Jenkins BY TRAVIS JENKINS/THE N&R Rev. Thomas Currence prays during his tent revival on Thursday. ‘A great harvest’ BY TRAVIS JENKINS was a regular stop for hun- passion, but he realizes it’s email@example.com gry diners for years. The not. He first found his pas- eatery, known for its south- sion for preaching the gos- It’s been hot under the ern soul food, is closed now, pel in a tent much like the revival tent where Thomas but Currence says it was one he now preaches from. Currence is currently hold- actually a harbinger of what “It was 33 years ago,” he ing nearly four hours of ser- he’s doing now. remembered. “A little tent vices each night. He’s used “The restaurant was revival came to my commu- to it, though, since it was built on the foundation of nity. I was a young man always plenty hot in the Jesus Christ,” Currence who needed direction and restaurant kitchen he said. “Even since it closed strength. Something hap- helped make famous. we’ve been having Bible pened to me in that little The Currence name is study there.” tent.” well known in Chester. Currence says he used to Currence Family Restaurant believe that food was his See REVIVAL, Page 2-A
COLUMN WRITING Weekly Under 6,000 Division THIRD PLACE: The Star Phyllis Britt
COLUMN WRITING Weekly Under 6,000 Division Banks profiting ‘Spummer’ is over off tax refunds Just when you think youve got Mother When is a rebate not a rebate? Better yet, when Nature figured out she throws a curveball at is a tax refund not a tax refund? you. When it comes in the form of a debit card. After a somewhat mild winter, spring arrived To save money, some companies have replaced Celebrating early this year, bringing warmer than normal traditional paper checks with plastic. I found thatSECOND PLACE: temperatures along with a generous serving of out this month when I purchased a pollen. If folks werent complaining about their new cell phone. Verizon Wireless Mother’s Day yellow cars they were fussing about how hot they were. offered a $50 rebate, which reduced the price of the phone to For most people, Mothers Day is an annual News flash: Hot aint got here yet - its only less than $30. event - a special time we set aside to honor our April. Several weeks later, I found an mothers and grandmothers for all they do for us Most of the ones complaining envelope in my mailbox from throughout the year. Union County News about the heat are the same ones Citibank, containing a Visa rebate My sister, Suzanne, celebrates Mothers Day four times a week. who dont like the cold, either. As card. "This is not a credit card," Every Tuesday, Thursday, Oppy Barber used to say, “Theyd Graham the instructions said, although I Saturday and Sunday she drives fuss (not his word) if you hung from her home in Cary, N.C., to em with a new rope.” Williams was reminded to choose "credit" Durham, N.C., and spends several when purchasing goods. The card People were adapting to the did not work at gas pumps; I had hours with our mother at Hillcrest Convalescent Center. Regardless of warmer weather - shorts, T-shirts to get the attendant to swipe it before I began Graham Williams what kind of day she has had, good Graham and flip-flops were the clothing of pumping. or bad, Suzanne puts it all behind Williams choice along Main Street - and it I spent the first $30 on gas, then another $19 her when she steps into the elevator was looking as though we would on movie tickets, leaving me with a balance of Graham that carries her to the second floor. zip through spring and plunge Williams Her objective is to make sure $1. I needed two stamps and didnt have any headlong into summer or perhaps Mama gets all the love and atten- a better word might be “Spummer.” cash, so I used the card. tion she deserves. I now have a balance of 10 cents. What can I Sometimes Mamas not in her room and “Not so fast, my friend,” said Mother Nature Suzanne walks around the second floor, looking (doing her best impersonation of Lee Corso cor- buy for a dime? The most likely scenario is that for her. For someone who will celebrate their 89th recting Kirk Herbstreit on ESPNs College the 10 cents will remain on the card and eventu- birthday next month, Mama gets around pretty Football GameDay). She sent a storm our way ally revert back to Citibank. well in her “Merry Walker,” a device with wheels that people are still talking about, days later. If you are due a state tax refund this year, you and a seat that allows her to stand and walk safely may wind up with your very own debit card and then sit down when she gets tired. Menacing clouds filled the western sky Saturday afternoon, she has parked herself at the Thursday afternoon and by 4:30 p.m., what had unless you notify the S.C. Department of end of the hallway on the other side of the build- once been a sunny day was quickly turning Revenue otherwise. ing. ugly. Strong winds gusted down Main Street, According to the Charlotte Observer, Bank of “Theres my Doodle!” Suzanne exclaims, taking America was chosen to provide debit cards to Mamas face in her hands and kissing her cheek. blowing paper and leaves from one to the other, Recognizing Suzanne, Mama smiles and returns clearing the roadway quicker than Roger Harris taxpayers who get state tax refunds, unless they her kiss. could ever imagine doing, even with his best specifically ask that their refund be given to As soon as we get back to the room, Suzanne broom. The holly trees lining the sidewalks bent them in a check or a direct deposit to their bank gets busy making our mother is “the most beauti- nearly sideways then snapped back as the wind account. Bank of America says the card can be ful Mama in the world.” She washes her face and subsided. used to purchase merchandise and for cash back hands with warm water and then pats her dry with a soft towel. Next, she puts cleansing cream on Lightning flashed and thunder boomed as the from a purchase at grocery and convenience Mamas face, all the while smiling and compli- rain began falling - slowly at first but picking stores. menting her on her soft skin. Finally, she applies a up speed as the storm got closer to downtown Dont use the card to get cash from a non-Bank few dabs of sunscreen to Mamas forehead, cheeks Union. Little raindrops quickly turned into large of America ATM or you will be charged $2.50 and chin, which she gently rubs onto her skin. ones, forcing anyone caught outside to quickly I can tell Mama enjoys all of the special atten- per transaction. How many Bank of America tion she’s getting; she closes her eyes and soaks it run for cover. ATMs are there in Union? None that I know of. all in. We may have thought we were in for a full- The Department of Revenue says the debit- Usually, Saturdays are “beauty days” - in addi- fledged thunderstorm, but Mother Nature had card program intended to eventually replace tion to the facial, Suzanne also washes and styles something better up her sleeve. printing and mailing paper checks, thus saving Mamas hair. But since I was visiting, she put off The familiar sound large raindrops make the shampoo and style until Sunday. the state "significant costs" in tax dollars and Dinner arrives around 5 and Suzanne helps when they hit the tops of cars was replaced by processing time. According to Observer, the state Mama into her wingback chair, where she sits something akin to small rocks bouncing off Department of Employment and Workforce has while Suzanne feeds her. Mama has a healthy metal as the liquid sunshine turned to damaging offered people receiving unemployment insur- appetite; she eats all of her dinner as well as the hail. The harder it rained, the larger the hail- ance the option of receiving their benefits on a chocolate pudding she has for dessert. stones became, changing from marbles to ping Sometimes, Suzanne will bring cards and letters Bank of America debit card since June 2010, pong balls. The streets and sidewalks were cov- saving the agency more than $5 million a year in from family and friends and read them to Mama. Other days, they may do laundry together or go ered with an icy, white coating that quickly melted. paper, printing and mailing costs. downstairs to the sunroom for some ice cream. The state is saving millions; Bank of America Every weekend, Suzanne brings Mama a copy of Within minutes, the storm had passed and the the Union County News and reads her my col- sun came out again - but only briefly - before is making millions; the taxpayers appear to be umn. Round 2 began. It was like déjà vu all over the only losers in this deal. Even though vascular dementia has diminished her short-term memory, Mama responds well again: high winds, lighting and thunder, rain when Suzanne talks to her. Throat cancer 20 years changing to hail. ago took away her ability to speak, but she By 5:30 the worst was over, although it con- The Department of Revenue says mouths words that Suzanne can understand. tinued to rain off an on throughout the night. the debit-card program intended to Suzanne and Mama have a special bond that Friday morning dawned overcast and chilly; only mothers and daughters can share, one thats eventually replace printing and mail- long pants and jackets had replaced shorts and been forged over many years together. They are T-shirts. ing paper checks, thus saving the closer now than ever. I am so thankful Suzanne is there for our moth- Nobody was complaining about the heat; state "significant costs" in tax dollars er, celebrating Mothers Day every week. Mother Nature had put us in our place. and processing time.
COLUMN WRITING Weekly Under 6,000 Division Life in the Last Lane by Mary Lou Willis Fried green Ann Youmans Esher, was a most interesting woman. An artist, she some time, the Eshers moved to Maryland where he felt safer. One of the worst of her tomato pickers... moved to Maryland’s Eastern Shore from New York City, and They lived in a beautiful wa- terfront mansion with well-kept ﬂighty notions came about when someone casually remarked about she and my mother, who was also lawns winding down to their own what a pity the acreage in the Now that I am a Senior Plus an artist and journalist, private beach right on the front of her land was lying idle Plus citizen (by that I mean oneFIRST PLACE: immediately formed a Chesapeake Bay. when it could produce such excel- over 85 as I am ) I have learned bond. There was also a lent truck crops. the disappointment of planting a Mrs. Esher had boat house, ten- So she decided to plant that huge garden in my yard. been married to nis courts, and acreage. No, indeedy, I have to be Vincent You- stables. Border- After much consideration, content now with having just two mans, the noted ing each side of she decided that the best crop for Walmart-special pre-planted to- composer of the long drive novice farmers to plant would be mato plants that grace one corner numerous hits and to the home tomatoes. Normally, that would of my small back patio. movie scores, his were about have been a good idea, except that And it is just about all I can most famous being the ﬁfteen acres of she had someone come and plant do to tote water from my kitchen favorite “Tea for Two.” rich black Mary- nearly 10 acres of tomatoes at sink out to keep them alive on News-Chronicle They had two chil- land soil where one time with no idea whatsoever days that Mother Nature forgets dren, twins Cecily and former owners about how they would be har- to help me keep them alive with a Vincent, who were two had raised toma- vested when all those tomatoes rain shower. days younger than I was toes, asparagus, began ripening at once. My poor old arthritic body and in my grade at school. corn and other My father was amused and just doesn’t get around as well We became close friends truck crops. took great delight in asking my as it once did. Another of those too. After To me, child mother just what did the Eshers reverse perks of old age, don cha her di- of poor weekly plan to do when all the tomatoes know. newspaper pub- started ripening at once in the Anyway, I do occasionally lishers, it ﬁelds. enjoy some delicious juicy toma- vorce all seemed What they did was, naturally toes, and I am content with that. from Vincent Youmans, like to call my mother in desperation. Mary Lou Willis However, I just can’t help remem- Ann met and married a heaven, and And, as expected, Mother vol- bering back so many decades ago Dr. Esher, a German man who I loved to spend time there with unteered the help of my brother to a time when picking tomatoes had escaped to Switzerland just my friends Cecily and Vincent. Jim and me and as many of our in the ﬁeld was a blistering before the Nazi regime took over In my father’s opinion, Mrs. friends as we could round up. We experience. It went something that country. Esher’s artistic temperament all headed for the tomato ﬁelds of like this. My mother’s friend, After living in New York for made her quite ﬂighty at times. “Paradise Acres,” as my father fa- cetiously labeled the Esher farm. Life in the Last Lane by CornerWillis Little did we know. Beckom’s Mary Lou f by Mike Beckom We had never picked tomatoes Winner of multiple awards over at all, let alone so many acres of the past years for editorial cartooning.. them. We were really green about what was involved. What a terrible three days! We were blistered in the sun, our New ﬂavor of Pepsi shared all the neighborhood gos- sip. A little gossip is as standard a I tell you. Dem younguns gwine be sick sho’ ‘nuff.” car to stop us at the light. backs ached from bending over service of most salons as a mani- I’ll skip the part where Cilla I just smiled and waved at him the tomato plants, our muscles The ladies of our subdivi- cure or shampoo, you understand. and I went round in circles and and ﬂew on to the doctor’s ofﬁce, hurt from lifting the ﬁlled bas- sion were delighted when Cilla She had just completed that wrung our hands and cried, and Joe following close behind. As I kets. The only thing that kept us decided to make her garage into a horrible step said over and over, “What’ll think about it now, I do believe he going was imagining the things room for her home beauty salon. of squirt- we do?” even shook his ﬁst at me at least we could buy with the money we She was our favorite cosmetolo- ing the Finally we one time. were golng to earn’ That is, if we gist and now would be going back permanent calmed down and When we reached the pediatri had any left after buying out half to work after being a stay-at- waving called the town cian’s ofﬁce, Joe understood and the drug store’s supply of sunburn home mom for several years. solution pediatrician began helping me pull every- medicine. The salon was ﬁnished, the all over to tell him body out of the car. Then he just But worse was to come. Moth- backyard was fenced in to protect my head what had grinned, “Hope everything’ll be er had neglected to tell us that her three little ones, and Cilla had as I hid my happened okay,” and drove off while I was she and Mrs. Esher had never dis- hired a dear older lady named face in a towel and that shouting after him, “Thanks, Joe cussed our pay. When the picking Fannie to care for little Pat, Mike, to escape the lo- we were I’ll explain later.” was over and done with, Jim and and Caroline while she per- tion’s awful odor. on the All 11 of us raced into the I were appalled to learn that we formed her coiffure miracles (we It was then way. We ofﬁce, bypassing the receptionist were to be paid in tomatoes that hoped) on us. that Fannie fairly had to go and going back to ﬁnd Doc and Mother would be taking home to Life in the Last Lane The new salon would be can for our winter’s use. ﬂew into the beauty in my sta- his nurse waiting for us. by Mary Lou Willis especially convenient for me as I And still worse yet, we were shop. That was our tion wagon The receptionist, whom most could just walk across the street left to break the news to all our ﬁrst indication that because everybody considered the mean- to Cilla’s, leaving my older sons friends we had recruited to help something was wrong. there est woman in town, kept coming with the picking that they too playing in my back yard and car- Fannie just never got in a wasn’t a back to the room where Doc and were going to be paid in toma- rying baby David over to wait in hurry. car that the nurse were valiantly pumping toes. a play pen she had added in the “Miss Cilla, Miss Cilla!” she day at Cilla’s. out three little stomachs as the salon. He even loved to sit on my We lost several good friends yelled. “’Fore Gawd, dem chil- To this day, we cannot remem- rest of us watched spellbound. W that summer. And Daddy had a lap while I was under the dryer, lun’s done drunk dat sody outen ber how we got Cilla, Fannie, ignored her until she ﬁnally left great time teasing us all about My cosmetology on the Raleigh daily paper. Only Two to ﬁve each afternoon. I could do the the soothing warmth and sound dat bottle. Dey’s gonna be sick ta Cilla’s three little ones, my four in frustration. often lulling both of us to sleep. being the Fried Green Tomato trouble was, my school was 18 Shampooing. Rolling up my coed shampoo for When I needed a new per- death!” boys, Alicia, and me in that car, Doc ﬁnally got that stomach- Pickers. miles from there, I could not friends’ long hair on bobby pins if her. I was not happy about that,to stay longer, I Cilla calmly went on squirt- but I suppose an adrenaline spurt pumping business over with career... sort of manent and had ing solution on my head. “Fannie, helped us. After we pushed and and turned to tell Cilla that the drive, and I didn’t have a car to the owner Mrs. Olsen was busy. and Dean Jay didn’t seemour teenaged neighbor engaged too that’s all right. I let them drink shoved to get all the children and children would be ﬁne because drive anyway. When I discussed And I could take my books and pleased either. In fact, into watch my three older Aliciashe really boys our own backyard. soda,” she assured the distraught us in, we were on our way and fortunately they had not swal- the idea of taking the bus to study some in between times. didn’t like me much either --- but baby sitter. arrived at the doctor’s ofﬁce in lowed much of the Malathion or I was not far into the ﬁrst Such was the arrangement “Yasum, but hit ain’t jes Pepsi record time. whatever it was in the soda bottle week of working in a beauty shop and from Raleigh each evening All went well as long as my that’s another story. the day we thought the whole on sody they be’s swallerin’. They My friend Joe, a town cop, “Now, Cilla,” he advised in when I decided that cosmetology and perhaps not getting back to shampoo customers were my My hands were world went wrong. up all of my shaking so Cilla had rolled done found it in the gardun shed saw us when I simply drove on his calm and soothing way, “you the dorm until midnight to be coed friends or some sweet little much I could hardly fasten the blue perm rods where I s’pose dey daddy done through a red light and turned on tell your husband to put a good was absolutely NOT the career I hair on pink and put it. No tellin’ what in dat Pepsi the blue light, siren, and anything padlock on that shed door and wanted for the rest of my life. securely locked in amidst the old ladies who were easy to cape around my “victim.” It took I handed her and the white papers bottle. You bes’ come quick now, else he could ﬁnd on the patrol not to put anything but Pepsi in a for each curl while we cheerfully As a freshman on a very tight other coeds, the dean of women please as long as I was not too several tries before I got the chair Pepsi bottle. budget at a rather expensive col- came close to having apoplexy. rough on their tender heads and adjusted just right and Miss Jay’s lege, I soon found I would need Naturally, I forgot that idea. got the bluing just exactly right hair spread out over the shampoo some kind of after-class job to Then someone told me there on their yellowing gray hair. bowl ready to have warm water provide me with a little spending was an opening for a shampoo Dean Jay came in every sprayed over it before adding the money. girl at the Oasis of Beauty in the Thursday for her shampoo tincture of green soap that she So I made the campus rounds, little town just a few steps off the and set. Since she was such an always insisted on. only to discover that the library campus. important --- and particular --- Miss Jay complained about positions were ﬁlled, no cafeteria Surely, what could be so dif- customer, the Oasis owner always everything I did. The cape was workers were needed, and my ﬁcult about that? I shampooed did Miss Jay’s shampoo, much to too tight on her neck. hunt-and-peck typing was not my own hair, didn’t I? Like all my relief. The water was not warm good enough for work in the girls of that war time era I rolled One week Dean Jay came in enough. I did not scrub and campus ofﬁces. my hair on whatever I could ﬁnd unscheduled, a day early, to get massage her scalp enough. I About the only skills I pos- to twist it around --- soup cans, beautiﬁed before some important washed and rinsed only once, she sessed were in the ﬁeld of news- coffee bag ties, toilet paper rolls, collegiate board meeting. claimed, and she always had two paper work. I could have gotten socks, even bobby pins whenever Mrs. Olsen really didn’t have washes and rinses in her sham- a pretty good job proofreading I could ﬁnd any. the time to do her hair that day poos. So I applied and got the job. but said she would work her in if By this time I was as nervous as a cat that had fallen into hot water
COLUMN WRITING Weekly Over 6,000 Division THIRD PLACE: The Columbia Star Mike Maddock
COLUMN WRITING Weekly Over 6,000 Division SECOND PLACE:Carolina Forest Chronicle Ettie Newlands
COLUMN WRITING LIFE’S A JOURNEY KRISTA Weekly Over 6,000 Division GIBSON Thumbtack holes M y son Taylor moved to Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday. AsFIRST PLACE: I vacuumed his empty room on Sunday I saw that he left a handful of colorful thumbtacks in his walls. The tacks held signed set lists and drumsticks The Greer Citizen from bands he had seen in concert. They held ticket stubs and auto- graphed posters. I have plans to fill the holes with spackling and Krista Gibson paint over his royal blue and bright yellow walls. What I can’t spackle and paint over are the holes I feel from his absence. Un- like his trips to Columbia for college, this trip has permanence associated with it. It is right. It is good. It is the natural order of events. But I’m still sad. Taylor’s excitement was palpable as he packed boxes and picked out fur- niture to take with him. A juggling act Help carry the load His eyes lit up as he told us about his plans and new responsibilities. My plan was to see him off early Saturday morn- W ing and then get busyT hat do you eat for situation. My own grief I hope that all of us can he juggling act that home, the first words out tations. His excitement breakfast the day LIFE’S just seems less significant bear a portion of this fam- cleaning. I wanted to be is motherhood took a LIFE’S of his mouth were, “Did gave me the strength to they bring your son home in a flag-draped A JOURNEY right now. His mom said she had ily’s grief for them. If we can’t step into that vast busy so that I wouldn’t turn for the worse last you see?” enjoy the moment and feel the loss all at once. Iweek. I had been doing so A JOURNEY Oh yes, I saw. not dwell on the pictures casket? Why does it even a bad feeling when he got hole they are now feeling, could gradually ease intowell keeping all the balls I saw less than 40 days in my head. matter? I wouldn’t want his orders for Afghani- how will they bear it? How KRISTA it during my breaks from to ever think about the stan. She didn’t tell him. unimaginable it wouldin the air. of high school left. I saw The juggling act furious tidying. Juggling work, baseball KRISTA two sons in cap and gown continues. But so do the mundane again. I’m grieving with the GIBSON She knew as I do that our intuition as moms can be if we lived in a world where we couldn’t all stop But the truck was lategames, laundry, meals GIBSON less than a month apart. moments that knock the mother of Adam Ross, only reach so far. Knowl- to stand in someone else’s and I contracted a nastyand other crisis kept I saw a car packed with balls out of my hand. My the 19-year-old soldier hallways and messed up edge and hunches don’t shoes for a little while. cold that put the brakesme breathless, but not linens and a microwave job right now is to not killed in Afghanistan and the bathroom. What do give us control. Even if he Pray if you know how. on my plans. I had toooverwhelmed. I’ve shed ation robe and a box of parked at a dorm and stay so focused on keep- brought home to our com- you do with the memories had known her feelings, Reach out if you are close much time to sit anda few tears alone in my graduation invitations sat stairwell leading to a ing the balls in the air munity last week along a and dreams for the future he had to obey the orders enough to embrace this think. This seems to becar thinking about my side by side on the living room with a number on that I miss what triggers street lined with apprecia- when they leave too soon? that took him into harm’s family. And remember a pattern of late. I’mboys growing up. I juggle room couch. the door. I saw the wave excitement or exaspera- tive citizens holding flags Watching the proces- way. that loss happens in simi- reminded consistently and balloons. Actually, sion for this young man, Watching the P&G lar ways to folks near usthe proud moments with Every ball I had been goodbye and then the tion in those around me. that no matter how much I’m weeping, unable to I’m ashamed of my own commercial playing in everyday. Times like thisthe disappointments. I juggling suddenly back of a head moving on In those times, I need to comprehend the grief. selfish sadness. My house heavy rotation during the remind us to keep our I would like to controlseemed to be handling it dropped from the sky and to the next phase of life. lay my own juggling balls Pride in heroics can only will be empty soon. How Olympics featuring young eyes out of the mirror of a situation, I’m not inall with a stiff upper lip. landed with a thud on the I took a deep breath and down and absorb the full go so far when it’s your can I compare my loss kids competing and the our own lives long enough charge. But then last Tuesday I ground. picked up the balls and impact of the moment. baby and he won’t be with hers when I can get tag line “To their moms, to carry the burdens of I gave into the memo-walked through the front I kept walking. I went tossed them gently into coming back. in my car and go see my they’ll always be kids”, I others. With the good and ries I had struggled todoor and to my left, I into the kitchen. I started the air. I met my son at firstname.lastname@example.org | 877-2076 His empty bedroom, boys in their new towns think of the pictures that the bad, life’s a journey. push aside and spent thespied the near future. A dinner. I went upstairs the couch and we opened once awaiting his return or pick up the phone and are flashing through her Pay attention. day thinking of all theneatly folded Riverside and changed clothes. the box and pulled out is now a constant re- hear their voices? head. I hope they always wonderful ways my sonHigh royal blue gradu- When Connor came the name cards and invi- minder of the boy he was Not that my feelings are stay clear and in focus for email@example.com | 877-2076 had touched my heart. as he ambled through the not appropriate for my her. I read the Psalms to him every day when I
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