Knott About Goodbye

Published 3:38 pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

For the last three weeks, I've been trying to write this column. Granted, I've also been attempting to finish-up several news articles and a feature story that are on my desk but the task seems never ending. However, this is supposed to be my last week of reporter duty so I'm determined to put this column to bed-in the journalistic sense-before I hit the sack, too.

My first thoughts weeks ago were to flip through a stash of articles and columns that I've written over the years and write about my favorites. I pulled out several huge notebooks overstuffed with Knott Muches and trudged through several file drawers of feature stories, news articles, and local government coverage. Obviously, I became overwhelmed. Not just from the volume of newsprint but also from the amazing opportunities I've experienced as a reporter covering one of the state's largest counties populated by some of the most interesting, innovative, and inherently genuine residents.

Covering the same area for over a quarter of a century has involved numerous changes and transitions. Case in point, I've seen this community go from one stop light to two, birth a new state park along the James River, welcome the Golden Arches, and energize a power plant.

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From building bateaus to building schools, I've been there and watched that. I've experienced an underwater blast used for testing submarine hulls and saw an old post office being hauled into the site of the now Historic Village at Lee Wayside.

I've covered countless unveilings of highway markers, portraits, and plaques while interviewing those who were persistent in their commitment to ensure a historic home, an encampment, and a birthplace would not be forgotten.

Traversing this county from border to border, I've interviewed some of the most enlightening and, yes, entertaining people that I could have ever imagined I would meet.

I've witnessed dedication and devotion in the truest sense of the words as I've talked with individuals and families who have endured illness, disfigurations, and the loss of loved ones. Standing in the smoldering ruins of churches and historic homes, I shared in the agony of such losses.

Conversely, I've shared amazing triumphs including that of young high school academics and athletes who earned full scholarships to college. I listened as an older adult learning to read joyfully shared her favorite verse from her Bible. And, I followed the journey of a retired Army colonel who was able to inspire a community to transform a former dumpster site on the grounds of the county's first secondary school for African American students into a multi-use community park.

Covering searches for missing children and older adults offered an insider's view of the immense dedication of law enforcement, fire and rescue volunteers, and search teams made up of members of the community. Yet, it also reinforced the fragility of life and relationships.

Sure, there have been far too many local government meetings to cover and way too much controversy but I've watched Buckingham prosper and grow as a result of both. And, along the way, I've grown and prospered, too.

When someone asked me where I was going to move to now that I was retiring, I was stunned by the question. First of all, it was as if I had moved here for my career-which certainly was not the case. That man-of-mine and I, both born and bred city slickers, moved here because we wanted to live in a rural community. We wanted to sink our roots deep into country living. His career allowed us to do so. My career, astonishingly, just evolved from a wannabe writer to a journalist. Make no doubt about it, Buckingham is home and this community is my extended family.

Now here comes the difficult part for me to write. Over the last few weeks, I have been so blessed by the embraces of gratitude I've received from so many of you. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to know that I have earned your respect and trust; and, that I have served a valued role in this community. And, that I've made you laugh, smirk, and even shed a tear or two with my Knott Muches.

Your comments have almost erased the memories of the countless long nights I've spent at this computer with my earphones plugged into my recorder listening to a section of a board of supervisors' or school board meeting for the third time to make sure I've got that quote down correctly.

Your expressions of appreciation have truly been the best retirement gift I could possibly receive. Yes, it is you, my readers and my colleagues, who have made this journey so incredible, and for that, I am truly grateful and I thank you. Now with that said and read, reckon there's any chance I've got second thoughts about retiring? KNOTT MUCH.