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The chat is over, but goodbyes aren’t forever

POSTED: January 2, 2011 1:30 a.m.

For the past few years, we have gathered at this same spot for a weekly visit. I've looked at it as a friendly chat over the back fence.

But today, when the chat is over, I'll walk away and unlike the previous 374 weeks, I won't be back at the fence.

The new governor has called and I have answered. I'll be taking my place in the new administration.

It is with a touch of sadness that I go away, but there was somebody here before me and in the coming weeks, there will be somebody here to succeed me.

We've shared a few laughs and memories. You walked with me down a road tinged with sadness when I chronicled the illness and death of my only brother. I also took you with me when my baby girl graduated from high school.

We've spent a lot of time reliving my childhood. Some of you lived a similar life and have told me about it.

I've used this space to pay tribute to some special people, like Belle Martin, who passed away in 2004 at the age of 105. There was also Josh Wallace, who lived 12 years, but in a battle with leukemia showed the courage of the bravest adult.

I wrote about Dr. Sam Poole, a man who was truly a humanitarian, and Suzy Harris, a World War II veteran and nurse who convinced him that a tiny space at a homeless shelter could become a badly needed medical clinic.

I've never tried to be preachy, but a few glimpses of my faith showed through on a few occasions. I'm glad of that.

There have been columns about Andy Williams, who's singing career gains notoriety each Christmas, and Andy Thompson, a Red Cross worker who shuns notoriety when he helps folks who need help after a disaster.

I told you about a sweet man whose mind was ravaged by that cruel monster called Alzheimer's disease. He wasn't sure of the name of the beautiful lady who visited him every day, but his heart told him she would be a good wife. He couldn't remember that he had pledge his love to her years before, but his heart knew better.

I don't know if you'll miss me, but I will surely miss you. I'll miss when you walk up to me in the grocery store and tell me how something I wrote was particularly meaningful to you. I'll miss standing beside the open casket of your loved one and hearing you say, "Mama, sure loved reading your columns."

Dennis Stockton and Norman Baggs are the members of this newspaper's management team who took a chance on me back in 2003. I hope I've made them proud. On three occasions, my colleagues in the newspaper industry called me one of Georgia's best.

But the thing I most cherish from this experience is a collection of sweet handwritten notes from people who have been touched by something I said in this space.

I hope that whoever takes this space in the future, realizes the value of doing a little good every now and then. I hope they will have a little box of notes one day in the future.

Farewell for now. I hope to see you again one day at that familiar fence.

Harris Blackwood has been a columnist for The Times. This is his last column. Past columns can be found at www.gainesvilletimes.com. 



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