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Nichols: Home, sweet home in Gainesville

POSTED: June 1, 2009 1:00 a.m.

On May 30, 2000, my younger sister, her husband, and I drove into Gainesville. My moving van coming down from Pennsylvania had not arrived. So the three of us spent our first night in Gainesville sleeping on air mattresses in an otherwise empty home that I had bought the year before when I saw a house with two good features.

The home sat on two acres of land inside Gainesville's city limits. Thus it had plenty of room for my daylilies to prosper. And they did.

Secondly, the house was a small bungalow with all main rooms on one level, and it had a half basement for protection in case of bad weather. My knees were beginning to give me trouble. I had used them for 72 years and they were a little worn. I did not want a home with stairs on several levels.

The furniture arrived the next day. My pride and heaviest piece was a 6-foot grand piano that I had purchased in Ohio. When I removed the ugly black paint, I discovered the wood was mahogany. The sound after some major repairs and tuning was mellow. Nothing I have ever owned has given me so much pleasure.

I cannot play as well today as when my piano first arrived because my fingers do tremble as I struggle with Parkinson's to control my body. Some days I win; some days, Parkinson's is victorious.

My daughter's family moved to Georgia few days after me. She had a nice home in eastern Flowery Branch. She quickly became familiar with her new town. But I had trouble with streets in Gainesville. I discovered that many streets have one name on one side of an intersection and a very different name on the other side.

Also Gainesville had incorporated many pieces of land from Hall County but little islands of the county were surrounded by city property. Some of these islands have been annexed, but I believe some of them still exist. A map of the entire city is on one side of my refrigerator. Even with its help, I get lost in parts of town that are new to me.

I searched for a new church home. Church music is an important value to me. I like a beautiful church with stained glass windows, an organ with some pipes showing and several choirs who can sing a variety of music from modern to classical, from Christian rock for young people, to African and Latin music for ethnic richness.

I visited three churches. My third choice met all my expectations and more. I admire a church with a vigorous outreach program for missions abroad and charities at home. I like to be mentally challenged by a pastor who can guide the study of our Bible, our God and ourselves. The congregation's friendly welcome should be obvious.

I joined First Presbyterian because I wanted to be part of that family of believers. I probably do not make much of a contribution, but I try to say "yes" when asked to do some task, especially if that is involved in helping others, like the Stephens Ministry does.

Desiring to learn more about daylilies, I joined the North Georgia Daylily Society which meets monthly in the Social Hall of First Baptist Church. On June 13, we held a show at the Lakeshore Mall to present newer daylilies to the public.

My most fun activities here involved membership in the Believers Band at First United Methodist Church. I hope to return in the fall. I had played saxophone in my high school marching band for four years, and the Fifth Army Air Corps band in Nagoya Japan, 1946-47. I played professionally in a dance band before military service.

I swim regularly as ordered by my friend Dr. Sumner. Two lifeguards at the pool spoil me. Ed and Cathleen save a large towel just for me. They think I am larger than most and need the extra yards of cloth to dry effectively. They are probably right.

Hospice, Lions Club, support groups for cancer and Parkinsons have enriched my life. I treasure what I have learned from all those persons I have met here. I would live nowhere else.

Tom Nichols is a retired college professor who lives in Gainesville. His column appears regularly and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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