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