Reflecting on my personal column milestone

This is my 100th column. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, a column being number eight-nine or 512 really hasn’t a whole lot of significance, not exactly “shut the front door” worthy.
But it certainly means something to me.
First, it makes me feel a deep sense of gratitude to Jim Cumming for giving me the opportunity to record on paper those thoughts and memories that tumble around in my head.
Remembering is a pastime that I engage in with tremendous fervour. I don’t think remembering is the same thing as nostalgia, though I suppose they are cousins, distant or otherwise.
I’ve been accused of being a bit of a nostalgic fool. But though my memory may smooth the rough edges off the past, I’m quite aware of the hardship and heartbreak of what once was; I just tend to take along with me those memories that celebrate the joy, both big and small.
Franklin P. Adams, a well-known American columnist, once said, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”
Adams could be right, I suppose, but as my mother’s memory became muddled with Alzheimer’s, it was the past that remained razor sharp in her memory—the last to fade away.
I was glad of that; glad that she could feel safe in the past with what was, for a time before the disease extinguished that, too.
The very best part of remembering in my column is that it has inspired readers to write to me, to share their stories—stories that sometimes intersect mine and other stories that are parallel.
Receiving these messages has been my very lucky circumstance. I have saved each and every message and I read them—all of them—from time to time, especially on those days when I doubt my value or feel too great a distance from my past.
I am inspired and amazed that individuals whom I may or may not know take the time to write to me.
In the midst of the warm, caring messages, there also have been messages that correct my grammar, who disagree with my commentary and my politics. I have saved those, too, and I’m glad for the noticing of my inability to grasp the proper use of lie and lay, affect and effect, and I’m sure many others.
Disagreeing with my stance on animal care, farming practices, and supporting local business, meanwhile, means they read what I wrote and though they may still disagree, they thought about their own opinions and mine—and perhaps tweaked and adjusted their stance before firming it up.
I love to write. I love the sound of my pencil on the paper, the loops and circles of my script. And when it becomes almost illegible as my hand tries to keep up with my brain, I smile knowing I’ve hit on some good stuff, that process of getting it down on paper.
I am so lucky to be in a position to honour those things in life that matter to me and to many residents of Fort Frances, both past and present. Glad is how I feel about remembering those moments that stand out from the ordinary.
I get to laugh about the hiccups, the burps, and the bumbles in life that make us shake our heads and feel quite human.
And I get to write to a community who counted my father as one of its sons, a community whose texture and depth and laughter was better for my father being on the roll call.
I get to write to a community that always will be home to me—the farm on the Rainy River where Crozier and Roddick collide will never change in my memory.
People will continue to drop by for toboggan parties and hot chocolate, corn roasts and scavenger hunts, sing-songs with my mother at the piano, her knees bouncing and her head thrown back in sheer delight.
And my father always will be out cultivating the front field of our farm with his John Deere 70; his therapy when life got too complicated, too confusing.
So, thank you for joining me on Wednesdays in the Fort Frances Times. Thank you, Cumming family, for this opportunity and for your stalwart and collective determination as a family to remain an independent newspaper—a formidable achievement in this economy, in this age of technology.
The Fort Frances Times is like a lighthouse, sending its beam out into the darkness to guide us all home.
See you next week.
wendistewart@live.ca

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