The Union Recorder

Columns

June 28, 2014

ROWLAND: Every life she has touched is better for it

MILLEDGEVILLE — I remember it as if it happened yesterday. The place was Tifton, Ga. The year was 1979. The month was January. The day escapes me.

I had just returned to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College for my second quarter. A not too altogether insignificant event given that I packed up my stuff in early December, bid the place good riddance, and swore never to return.

I'm not sure at all what it was about my first college experience that turned me off to higher education, but I was miserable. I don't think it was the being away from home so much as it was the fact that it took me the same three months to come to the realization that I was in complete control of my own destiny.

I came home for my first Christmas break and swore I'd never go back. Of course, I was wrong, and what happened next spanned the subsequent 14 years and four college degrees. Not too shabby for a kid who almost threw in the towel after the first quarter.

But it was what happened to me upon my return for the second quarter of my freshman year that changed my life.

I walked into Miss Florence Baxter's English 102 class a little frustrated over the fact that I'd let myself be talked into continuing my education, plopped my behind into a desk on the front row, and took a quick glance to my immediate left.

Now, I don't believe in love at first sight … well, at least not until I saw my grandson for the first time … but this had to be pretty close. I recognized her from the basketball team, wasn't sure of her name, but decided to keep my eye on her just the same.

And then it happened.  She spoke. Not to me, exactly, but to someone else in general. Just let me tell you that there is nothing sexier than a woman who can make the workman have three syllables. Country doesn't even begin to describe it. I'd heard about South Georgia accent, but here it was sitting right next to me.

Cupid's arrow shot right through my heart.

Turns out we had a lot in common. We each loved sports, had aspirations to teach school, and shared a competitive spirit. She had a knack for looking after things, and I desperately needed supervision.

We married three years later in the little chapel on the same campus where we first exchanged enchanted glances. Since that time, we have lived in two apartments and six different houses.

We raised two sons through the customary childhood diseases, a few bumps and bruises, and a couple of broken bones. We watched when they experienced their first broken hearts, and even endured a few broken hearts of our own.

She put up with my dreams and aspirations to be somebody. If I am somebody, it is because she supported me through the whole dream-chasing thing. We even caught a few, but what she taught me most about dream-chasing is that catching one isn't worth much without someone with which to share it.

She has suffered through every hair-brained scheme I have devised to get ahead. She trusted me when I didn't deserve it, stood by me when it seemed that no one else would, and picked me up every time life knocked me down.

We have laughed and cried; celebrated and mourned; screamed and hollered, and kissed and made up … my favorite part, I might add.

And she did it all expecting nothing in return. She is the definition of unconditional love. Every life she has touched is better for the experience.

And she has touched a ton of them.

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