“Wake the neighbors! Get the word out! Come on, crank up the music, climb a mountain and shout! This is life we’ve been given, made to be lived out … so live out loud.”
I’ll get right to the point. Friday, Aug. 4, is my last day at the newspaper.
I am not going to another job, at least for now. I’m calling it “temporary retirement.” I’d love it to be full fledged retirement but we are not independently wealthy and have many plans still on the table. I had promised myself to take the rest of 2017 to do whatever it is I need to do before I look for the next paying adventure then life got in the way. Moving on…
I came to the Tri County Leader 11 years ago. I know! I can’t believe it has been that long either. Time flies when you’re having fun. Well, most of the time.
It was August 2006 when my friend Mary Ann Coney called to tell me that they were hiring a new editor and would also be hiring a reporter. I prepared a resume and dropped it off at the office. Mary Ann said she would get it to the publisher.
In the mean time I got a call from Mr. Splinter at Holloway. They needed a sixth grade science teacher, long-term sub. The person who was lined up to take the class until the teacher returned from maternity leave had something come up and wasn’t going to be able to as planned.
I had no idea if I would be considered qualified for the reporter job. I had a degree in journalism and a secondary teaching certification but no newspaper experience at all. With that in the back of my mind I told Mr. Splinter I would take the long-term position. It would be a quick turnaround to get with the teacher and get my brain into sixth-grade science mode.
The next day the publisher called and asked if I could come to the office for an interview. I explained that I had just accepted the sub assignment but he still wanted to talk to me. After a bit of conversation and some questions from him and from me, he asked if I would still consider taking the job and starting slowly until I was finished at the school. I said yes. Of course I said yes. I say yes way too often.
What started as a part-time job went to full-time plus some before very long. I think most of you know the rest of that story.
When our editor Don decided he was ready to semi-retire I was asked to take on the position of editor. How could it be that different from what I was already doing, or so I thought. Instead of helping him attend the city and school meetings and then write the stories, they were all my babies now. Don was writing sports, which is his love, and he continues to do an awesome job of that.
I can’t even begin to count the hours I’ve spent in the most uncomfortable chairs ever during city council, planning and zoning and school board meetings. I listened to rants, roses and everything in between. As brilliant as the financial people with these groups are I still never made it past five minutes into the report before my eyes began to roll back but when it was over they were always willing to explain it on my level.
To those in our city government and our schools, I thank you for the work you do. I know it is a paying gig but you earn every penny and more. I know you typically only hear from those who are unhappy with something that you may or may not have control over. I thank you for opening up to me and to the public when the questions and the answers were hard (most of time any way.) I will miss your wisdom and your wit. While we won’t see one another as often, please know that the friendships made over the years are in my heart forever.
The same goes for the city council members, commission members and school trustees. Unpaid monetarily, I know you do what you do because you love Whitehouse and Troup, the citizens and students. Thank you.
For the thousands of children, young people, students I’ve had the pleasure of showcasing over the years, continue to make your best better and never forget where you come from.
To the churches, organizations and such, you do great work for our wonderful communities and I thank you for your tireless efforts. Keep up the good work.
And last but not least to my faithful readers - you are a dying breed. As sound bites and instant news clip every second of our day, you want more. You want to know what’s happening in your cities, your communities. You thrive on the good news as well as the bad. I hope I have provided you with the news you wanted to read for information, the news you wanted to read about our students and their accomplishments and that I’ve made you cry and I’ve made you laugh. In my opinion if I did that, my job was well done.
I cannot begin to tell you all how much I will miss typing these words each Tuesday morning with you in mind. They were mostly wrapped around something going on in my life but many of us share much of the same steps in life. Maybe I’ll start a blog. I don’t know how that works but I can learn.
As I said in the beginning, I do not know what the future holds for me but I know the one who does. I just need to be still and listen to Him for a while.
I’m leaving this week with more song lyrics and scripture.
East Texas native Chris Tomlin wrote a song a few years ago titled “I lift my hands.” More than ever, I feel the words of that song in my heart.
“I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God
You are faithful, God, forever.”
One version of the Bible starts the scripture with “Be still.” I like that but I think I’ll close with this one.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
(Contact Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org)