What a year. The day is approaching when 2012 says adios, see ya later, au revoir or zài jiàn, and 2013 says hello. I always get reflective as a year passes. I wonder why Im still here while so many others have gone on. Im not complaining, of course. Im 61, and people who were my contemporaries, such as Pastor Larry Eason, 60, of Greater Little Rock Baptist, passed in January. My own pastor, Bishop Willie L. Reid Sr., 60, left us in May. I still hear his voice, actually his laugh, echo in the Faith Dome.
But there were others, more than a generation behind me, who left this world too soon. In February, a co-worker of my wifes at Central Georgia Technical College, Jackie Balkcom, passed at 46. And in November, another co-worker, Veta Coger, left this earth at 36. Im way too ignorant to make any sense of it all.
And there was a shock to the system when in the same year, former state senator, mayor and Bibb County Commission Chairman Tommy Olmstead (June), former commission Chairman Larry Justice (August) and Water Authority Chairman Frank Amerson (September) passed on.
There were others senior to me who were so important to this community, Albert and Chunk Reichert, two wonderful people who couldnt bear to live or die without each other. They passed six days apart. And there were those who left a lasting impact such as Judge J. Taylor Phillips (June), Lt. Gen. Robert Hails (March), Palmira Braswell (July), Robert Mighty Rock Roberts (June), Mark Smith (June), Oliver Bateman (Sept.), master educator Dr. Ulysses Byas (Aug.), Elijah Jones (Aug.) William Grant (Nov.) and Neva Fickling (Nov.).
Theres no way to mention everyone, we published 5,366 obituaries between Jan. 1 and Dec. 27. Each loved one was special, and those they left behind, I would suspect, are still grieving. When loved ones depart, they also leave behind anniversaries -- the first Christmas without them, the first birthday, etc. And there are times when we feel their presence. It could be something as simple as remembering how they walked or the way they turned a phrase.
The Telegraph family has lost loved ones, too. Beau Cabell, one of our great photographers, lost his mother, Susan, at age 98 (Sept.). Nancy Fiveash, in our finance department, lost her husband, Ray (Dec.), and our Chief Financial Officer Conna Hardy lost her father, Walter Henry Johnson Jr. (Sept.). Former employee Ric Thornton lost his dad, Richard (Sept.), Rachel Patton in sales also lost her father Shag Peavey on the last day of 2011, and our publisher George McCanless and his wife, Rebecca, lost her mother, Nancy, last December.
I think of my friends and colleagues on the Editorial Board who have gone on, Phil Dodson (January 2011) and Ed Corson (August 2011). Phil died while on his annual vacation to Florida and Ed just three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. I miss them all so much, not to mention Ron Woodgeard, who left us in September 2002 and John Krueger who was first to pass on in 2000. They left me with special gifts and responsibilities that I treasure. Barbara Stinson and I are all thats left, and she retired on me.
Why not just step onto the future and leave the past, some say. The people past are precisely why we are here today. Even those we may not have known had a sphere of influence that created the time and space we live in now.
We get caught up in a maelstrom of activity -- too involved with the politics of the day and our workaday schedules -- to think about people and appreciating them while they live. We think well get another chance, but too many times we look up and theyre gone and we havent said what we needed to say to them.
As we prepare for the frivolity of the coming days, stop and think a moment about the people and personalities in our lives and lets not forget those who helped us arrive at 2013.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via e-mail at email@example.com.