My father was killed in a car wreck in 1980. Though I've lived over half my life without him, one thing I've learned is that a daddy's girl never stops missing her daddy.
Some things will always remind me of him. I can't look at a newly tilled garden without recalling his love for anything he could grow. He delighted in the first mess of spring peas cooked up with a handful of tiny new potatoes. He grew enough Kentucky half-runner beans to supply the entire neighborhood.
His green thumb wasn't passed on to his only child. I recently killed a pot of rosemary. I suspect it's easier to kill kudzu.
Anything to do with Alaska makes me think of my dad. He was fascinated with our 50th state. He collected books, maps, brochures, anything to do with Seward's Folly. He and my mother planned to travel there someday. Someday never came.
Most of all, I can never pass a Georgia Power Co. truck without thinking of James Hamrick. Whenever I see a bucket truck on the side of the road, I still half expect to spot him among the group of workers in white hard hats.
He worked for Georgia Power for 32 years. The gold watch he'd been given for his 30th company anniversary was in the envelope of belongings I picked up at the hospital after he died.
These days, it's popular to see each job as a steppingstone to something better and to never linger too long with any one organization, but my dad was old school. He loved Georgia Power Co. and he loved his co-workers. And they loved him. During his hospitalization, there was scarcely a moment when there wasn't at least one GPC co-worker in the waiting room.
His crew members were his pallbearers.
Those memories flooded back when I read about 25 year-old Kylan Warren of Ellijay. He was a GPC lineman working in Milton on July 15 when crew members who were trying to install a new power line pole accidentally drilled into a natural gas line. The resulting fire shot up over the treetops.
Kylan was 30 feet up in a bucket at the time and had to jump out in a desperate attempt to escape the flames. He suffered burns over 80 percent of his body.
Co-workers quickly organized a benefit motorcycle ride from the Company headquarters in Atlanta to Kylan's hometown of Ellijay.
Tragedy piled on top of tragedy when one of the organizers, Mike Hyde, was involved in a deadly accident while returning from a trip to plan the event. He lost control of his motorcycle on Interstate 575. His wife, Charlene, who was riding on the back, was killed. Doctors had to amputate one of Mike's legs below the knee.
Shortly before the benefit ride was to begin on Aug. 14, word came that Kylan had succumbed to his injuries. He leaves behind his parents, a sister and his wife, Keshia. They had been married for six weeks when his accident occurred.
The benefit ride became a memorial one. More than 300 riders participated.
Kylan was GPC to the core. On the CaringBridge site that had been set up to keep friends and family updated on his condition, someone posted a few of his wedding pictures.
His groom's cake was in the shape of the red GPC triangle with a lightning bolt through the center.
I have no doubt that Kylan's Georgia Power family will be right there beside his parents and young wife as they all struggle to make sense of a life without him.
And what about the rest of us? How often to we think of the Kylan Warrens of the world when we flick on our light switches, never doubting that they'll always turn on? How often do we think to thank utility crews as they struggle through snowstorms, ice and tornado debris to restore our service? How often to we think of the risks they take each and every day as they do their work?
These people have harnessed the power of lightning and that comes with unimaginable dangers.
Do me a favor. The next time you see a Georgia Power Co. crew, tap your horn or blink your lights. They've lost a brother and still they keep on doing their heroes' jobs.
They deserve our admiration. They deserve our support. They deserve our thanks.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.