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From the Publisher's Desk – Life's book has many chapters (Aug. 26, 2015, issue)

Curve after curve I drove the mountainous road, finding my entire body swaying with the direction of each as if it were part of the steering process. Straight stretch and curve, straight stretch and curve, they came in succession.
Music was playing on the radio and, all of a sudden, I came to the realization that I didn’t like the song playing. It was mid way through and I hadn’t even paid attention to realize until that moment. My mind was elsewhere. Also, how did I get this far along? I don’t remember that last stretch of road. Was my body on autopilot?
This was my encounter many times when I lived on Spivey after working late hours. I recently thought of my life in the very same manner. I wander through parts of life and then come to the realization of where I am and question how I got there. Meantime, I forgot to look at the beauty that I passed along the way.
Saturday, Mom and I went to visit a very special man in my life. I refer to him as my step-dad and have mentioned him in my columns before. He is only one year older than my mom, but his health has decreased faster over the years. When I first started going to see him on a regular basis, he was in good health.
I can remember watching his eyes flit around and I could see his mind working. I imagined he was processing what he should be doing instead of taking up time with me. Don’t get me wrong, he truly enjoyed me visiting, but is very much natured as I am. My list of things to do is always long and my time to get it done short. So, interruptions in the routine throw me into a slight panic.
As the years have passed, I have noticed his steps getting slower and slower. He calls me weekly to check on me and see how I am doing. In reality I should be the one checking on him. He also asks when I am coming over next. Usually I will say that I will try for this day or that. His response is “I would love to see you when you can, but I know you’re busy and that has to come first.”
When I do find the time and head to his home, I get excited inside. Despite his health, he has an amazing mind. It stimulates my thought process. In a two hour visit we might cover everything from word definitions, projects, politics, news, art, religion and more. It’s like we have bottled it all up inside. I learn new things and refresh on old. Every time I visit, he has a dessert of some type and a cup of coffee to offer.
His stories of the past are detailed with his sharp memory. He tells me of family and students he had in school while teaching and of life experiences he has gone through. The accounts are full of humor, mystery, sometimes spookiness and always charm.
We go from point to point in his expansive yard looking at plants, trees and the beauty he has created. We also go from point to point in his large, winding home and from point to point in topics. I guess you could say we cover a lot of ground.
Visits always start out at the side door with a hug, where we proceed to the kitchen table for discussion and dessert. At some point, his library full of interesting books is usually included in the visit.
I couldn’t have been more like him, if he had been my natural father.
Saturday’s visit he seemed slower. He used his cane to steady his feeble body and each step seemed like an effort. We sat in the house awhile, went out to pick apples from his various trees, stopped from place to place to sit on a bench and ended up back inside. I had to help him up when he stood and held his arm as we walked along.
His list of things to do is still just as great as ever. He has lots of time now to do plenty, but he doesn’t have the health or the stamina to get them done. That doesn’t stop him from naming at least a dozen things during a visit that he hopes to do, things to cook next time I am there, people to go see when we get time or things to accomplish this fall.
We have plans for me to go over and help him clean out his barn when it gets cooler. I’m not talking hay and equipment, but rather art supplies, folders, clip art and numerous items collected over years and years.
At one point Saturday, he and I were walking alone. I reminded him again how much I love him and got an even greater response of love back. “I don’t get much time to read anymore,” I told him. “But, every time I am with you, it is like picking up a good novel and excitedly reading another chapter filled with wonderful details of life.”
As mom and I drove away Saturday I said to her “What am I going to do when I don’t have him around?”
Life passes so quickly and someday we look up and wonder how we got where we are. I want to be aware of all the beauty along the way, make photographs of it and mental notes as well. Someday that will be the only story book I have left to revisit those marvelous memories.