Banks County Opinions...

November 14, 2001


By Angie Gary
The Banks County News
November 14, 2001

Just call me Aunt Angie
Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is exciting and hectic. There is the shower and all the preparation that goes into it. Then there is planning for, shopping for and decorating the nursery. Not to mention shopping for all of those cute little clothes.
With all of the excitement and chaos surrounding the preparation for a new baby, it's easy to forget that another person will soon be joining the family­a real, live, breathing person who will claim a part of your heart and not let go.
Family and friends gathered at the hospital early Monday morning to await the arrival of the newest member of our family. It still didn't seem real that in just a few hours I would be holding my nephew. For the first time ever, I would be an aunt.
We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. and I thought we would have a baby by lunch. My sister, Amanda, and baby Jake apparently had other plans. Around lunchtime, after receiving the epidural, my sister decided to take a nap. For several hours, she peacefully snoozed while we all nervously looked at her, walked the halls and answered phone calls from family and friends. The news was the same for hours, "She's asleep. Call back later," or "Still no baby."
When she did wake up and get to work, it really didn't take long at all. The only ones in the delivery room were Amanda, her husband, Jacob, the doctor and two nurses. The rest of us were gathered in the hallway with our ears to the door. I'm sure it was a funny sight to see six adults with their ears pressed to a door. We were trying our best to hear something, but with all of the noise in the hallway, we didn't get much. It was a special moment for the two families-Amanda's and Jacob's as they joined together to await the arrival of the baby that would join them together.
One of the special family members there was Hazel Carter, who was with Mama at the hospital the night Amanda was born. She arrived early Monday morning and was with us until late that night. Amanda and I have always considered her a grandmother and she has been there for the special moments in our lives.
When Jake was born, a nurse stuck her head out the door and said, "Angie, come on in." As the "official family photographer," I was the first in to capture all of the special moments of the new arrival for the family. I was so busy trying not to miss anything or see anything that would make me faint, that I didn't get a good look at my little nephew. You really can take four rolls of photographs without really looking at what is in front of you.
After the photographs were taken and all of the family members and friends had come into the room to get their first glimpse at the new baby, I got to hold him. I haven't held many babies and have never held a newborn. He seemed sotiny, even though eight pounds and six ounces isn't considered a small baby. He still seemed small to me.
I smiled down at the tiny baby, wrapped in a blanket and with a cloth cap on his head, and said, "I'm Aunt Angie." He smiled. He really did (no, I wasn't just tired). I'm sure that special moment is just the first of many more we will share as he grows up. The fun has just started and I can't wait to see the man he grows up to be.
Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News.


By Kerri Graffius
The Banks County News
November 14, 2001

Slap a name tag on the new kid in town
Why must introductions be so formal? As a kid on the first day of school, everyone had to stand up and introduce themselves to the class. We had to state our name, age, where we were born and maybe something that made us a little different from the other 24 kids saying the same thing throughout the day.
"My name is Kerri Graffius, I'm 23-years-old-year, I was born in Sugarland, Texas., which is outside of Houston, and I put syrup on my macaroni and cheese."
It's amazing how years after those days of stating your name before all of those kids that already knew you, society still wants to put you into those categories that are so easy for quick reference.
Case in point, by the time I got to high school, people would no longer simply ask "What's your name?" they wanted to know "what" you were. For high school kids, that classification meant one of several potential categories: jock, brain, grunge (for those kids in school throughout the 1990s), nerd, prep, sorority-wannabe, etc. In Texas, we even had the "Kickers" for the hard-core cowboys with hats, boots and the signature "hubcap" belt buckle fastened to their tight-fitting jeans.
It was acceptable in high school to classify everyone into one of those categories (or something similar) when image was everything. Face it, when you think of someone from high school you automatically think back to "what" that person was during those years of immaturity and shallowness.
So what was I like in high school? Kinda preppy, a little brainy and pretty nerdy.
When I moved to Georgia my sophomore year of high school, I was known as the quiet, studious short girl who (when she talked) had a distinctive Midwestern accent. Truth was, I didn't want to be in Columbus, Georgia-I had never even heard of the place until I was told at the end of my freshman year that we would be moving there from our quaint suburban town.
After all, I was going to move back to Texas. That's where I grew up and that's where I was gonna stay, not in Georgia where I can't understand half of the things people say.
I soon realized, however, that I had to break out of my shell and make the most of Georgia. I befriended another girl from out of the state (and country) who was stuck in the same situation I was in and I became heavily involved in extracurricular activities. By my senior year, I was that kid who was involved in every club, organization and honor society that I could get into with the yearbook photos to prove it.
Yet, by the time I arrived at college, I noticed that people don't really care "what" you are, they want to know "who" you are. As noble as that sounds, it really isn't.
The "who" they want to know about in college is the "who" as in, "'Who' are you dating?","'Who' are your parents?",and most importantly "'Who' do you know and 'who' knows you?"
I suppose we needed that redefined system of classification while attending a college with more than 30,000 students, such as UGA. We needed to figure out how we were all connected to one another at that vast and intimidating university. Better yet, we needed the inside scoop on everything that was going on around us just to survive those four years.
In the few weeks that I've been working in Jackson County, I've been amazed at how everyone truly knows each other-something that I thought never really existed any longer in these times. When I tell people the name of my boyfriend, a graduate of Jackson County Comprehensive High School nearly five years ago, not only do they know "who" he is, but they know surprisingly more about him.
"Oh, James, yeah I know him. We were on the sameLlittle League team together in the fourth grade. How's his brother doing? Is his mom still at the same school? Tell him I said 'hi,' I haven't seen him in about eight years."
My god, as a big city girl, I don't know if I should be amazed by those kinds of comments or scared to death.
I suppose it's just my defense mechanism from growing up in cities where anonymity in the suburbs, on public transportation and excessively large schools can be a good thing.
For what it's worth, living in a smaller town seems to bring more comforts than can be afforded by a metropolis. Since moving to the Peach State nearly eight years ago, I've come to realize that Georgia has had more to offer than Houston could have provided me. It's simply a matter of slapping on a new name tag and waiting for what happens next.
Kerri Graffius is a reporter for Main Street Newspapers. Her email address is:


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