Could it be I’m mel­low­ing with age? At least one friend thinks so

The Standard Journal - - POLICE & FIRE - CHRIS COL­LETT Chris Col­lett is a life­long res­i­dent of Can­ton.

Afew weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Melinda Cox, sent me a mes­sage af­ter read­ing some­thing I had writ­ten. She told me that the tone of my col­umns has changed. In her opin­ion, my words are start­ing to show a softer side of me. She also said it is a side that I have tried hard to hide for a long time. The most im­por­tant thing she said was that she has prayed that I will one day open my heart and let some­one in.

It was im­pos­si­ble to not be touched by such a beau­ti­ful mes­sage of prayer and hope. Melinda is some­one I re­spect and have re­spected since the day I met her. Many of you may know her and not even re­al­ize it. She works for the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles. She has given many a child their driv­ing test in Can­ton when the State Pa­trol Post was on Ma­ri­etta High­way. Be­ing a mother her­self, I know every one of those chil­dren felt at ease in her pres­ence.

Since Melinda now lives and works in Blue Ridge, I don’t see her any­more. Our only con­tact is the oc­ca­sional phone call and so­cial me­dia mes­sage. Her job wasn’t the rea­son for my re­spect. It was her deeply seeded be­lief sys­tem in God. She doesn’t just be­lieve. She ap­plies the Good Book to her life and her job as a mother. So, I trust her opin­ion and there is no doubt she has prayed for me. God knows I have needed it, still need it and will need it in the fu­ture.

Af­ter watch­ing Mama sit at the nurs­ing home with Daddy for six to eight hours a day for five years, I’ve said that I have never known love like that. I am also guilty of say­ing that I don’t want any­one do­ing that for me in the same sit­u­a­tion. I’ve told Mama and Lind­sey that if I get Alzheimer’s, like ev­ery­one else in the Col­lett fam­ily, just put me in a nurs­ing home and limit any vis­i­tors to a two-hour win­dow each week. Just make sure I have a tele­vi­sion and re­frig­er­a­tor.

Think­ing like that is wrong on many lev­els. First off, just maybe if I take care of my health the best I can, the cy­cle of Alzheimer’s can be bro­ken with me. Sec­ondly, all the mem­o­ries I have with Daddy in the nurs­ing home aren’t bad ones. He and I had many talks alone while sit­ting on the porch. He couldn’t re­spond like he once did. Nev­er­the­less, I knew he was lis­ten­ing. He would nod or pat my hand and let me know he was tak­ing it all in. Many peo­ple who have lost some­one to Alzheimer’s will tell you that it is like los­ing the per­son twice. In one sense that is true. Af­ter five years of watch­ing Daddy in a nurs­ing home, you think you’re ready when they die. You aren’t. Earl Darby told me one day be­fore Daddy died that I may think I’m ready, but I’m not. He was right. I found out the hard way.

Ju­nior Bobo lost his wife Deb­o­rah at the young age of 69 af­ter she lost her bat­tle with Alzheimer’s. I had the priv­i­lege of hav­ing a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with Mr. Bobo a few days af­ter the funeral. Since I have known Mr. Bobo for many years, I know him to be a pri­vate and quiet per­son. Out of my deep­est re­spect for him, I won’t di­vulge the con­tents of our con­ver­sa­tion. How­ever, I will share this with you. He is heart­bro­ken and un­der­stands the ter­ri­ble ef­fects of Alzheimer’s. Ju­nior doesn’t say a lot. So, when he does, it pays to lis­ten. I will for­ever trea­sure that con­ver­sa­tion with a man I re­spect.

Some of my life­long friends still have both their par­ents with them. What a bless­ing that is. I had the honor of play­ing golf with James Groves about a week ago. He and Daddy were friends for life. His son Brian and I will also be friends for life. James shot 80 that day, which is lower than his age. Very few peo­ple ever shoot a score below their age. Mr. Groves did. It was an honor to watch.

I ap­pre­ci­ate Melinda. She’s a lov­ing friend. I even ap­pre­ci­ate the lady who wrote me to say ev­ery­thing I write is stupid. Life’s too short to hate. Maybe Melinda’s prayers are be­ing an­swered. Stay tuned.

Col­lett

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