I’m tellin’ you so

Published 2:00 am Saturday, September 12, 2015

For some reason, folks keep asking me why I don’t retire.

I’m not sure exactly what the implications are.

Perhaps, they think I’m too “senior” to be in the workplace or maybe they think my work is falling off. Or maybe they can just envision me in a grass skirt doing the hula hula in Hawaii.

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But whatever, I’ve started thinking about retirement.

I’ve always thought, at best, I would spend my “twilight” years surrounded by mountains, listening to bluegrass music and eating bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. At worst, I would be wearing a poodle skirt and waiting tables in a diner in southwest Georgia.

But, the loss of Dr. Doug Hawkins got me re-thinking retirement.

Reporters are like nosey neighbors and probably just about as irritating. We barge into the lives of neighbors and strangers asking them all manner of questions with the pretense of getting their answers right. We shove a camera in their faces not waiting for them put their best side forward.

If I figure right, I’ve been going in and out of doors all over Pike County for nearly 20 years. And, how blessed I’ve been that very few of the doors have been slammed in my face.

Working for the newspaper has given me opportunities to share in little snippets of the lives of so many people who have passed this way.

Had I been retired, I would never have had the pleasure of sitting under an old oak tree listening to Mr. Ovie Hughes tell his tall tales while chickens pecked at my feet or shared a pitcher of lemonade and a batch of teacakes with Elizabeth Law as we waited for the buzzards to come to roost.

I would never have been to Mr. Frank Stinson’s barbecue at the spring or to Bogum Senn’s moonshine still. And, in case you didn’t know, if moonshine burns bright blue, it’s good stuff.

I would never had watched Mr. Lee Gene Allen grind and sack corn at the old Prestwood Mill or sipped a cure-all from sassafras roots that Dr. Littleton had boiled for 20-minutes and steeped for 20 minutes.

If I had retired, I would have missed Captain Machado’s tales of the sea and a ride on Ira Thompson’s motorcycle. I would not have learned the art of stacking peanuts from Jim Frank Hughes or how to ‘not make’ dumplin’s from “Miss” Celia Wilson.

I would never have spent an afternoon at Rex Locklar’s store in Henderson. I would never have heard Hobo John Sherwood, say, “You just ain’t too smart, are you, girl” or Billy Gibson call to say, “Some days you get things just right.”

I would have missed Don Crapps coming to “fill me in” and Bobbie Swisher’s enthusiasm for storytelling and the goodness of Jewel Griffin’s white brownies. I would have missed David Holmes’ tail getting caught on fire — tux tail — when he crash-landed his “eggbeater” aircraft on the fairway at Troy Country Club.

Betty Wag taught me that it’s quite all right to get foot-stompin’ mad if you’re mad about the right things.

If I had retired, I would never have sat on the porch with Joe Ellis and watched the sun set through the red haze of a dusty peanut field. Nor would I have a “Dougie” hanging on the bedroom wall to remind me that life is fleeting so treasure each and every day and each and every one.

So, now there’s no reason to ask me why I don’t retire. I just told you.