Banks County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 1, 2004


Column

By:Margie Richards
The Banks County News
September 1, 2004

Memories in a box
Looking back through old photos is like taking a trip back through your life.
How did people remember things, and when they happened, before photography?
Perhaps their lives were less cluttered than ours are today and memories were recalled by saying “Do you remember the year ‘so and so happened?’ — it was the year the creek dried up...,” or “it was the year it snowed on Christmas...”
Maybe they were more industrious than I, taking a few moments every day to jot down the things that happened and how they felt about them. I don’t know.
All I do know is that there are so many things, precious things, that would have gotten lost in the shuffle of my every day life if those old photos weren’t there to remind me.
There’s a reason photos are on my mind; I’ve been digging them out from closets, end tables, photo albums, photo boxes, desk drawers and other places I’d forgotten about over the past week or so, working on a photo album for my daughter, Miranda, for her 22nd birthday.
Just when I think I’ve found them all, more seem to surface. And it’s taken me a long time to go through them because along with all the baby pictures, birthday parties, school events, awards ceremonies, beauty pageants, vacations, graduations, reunions, etc. (Whew!) there are the other photos from my own life before I became a mother. I get lost in looking at all of it, remembering people, places and events I haven’t thought of recently, becoming forgetful of the reason I’m sorting through it all.
Some make me laugh, like my hairstyles and eyeglass frames over the years, others make me cry, like my mother’s face at my wedding, or the few pictures of my daddy, who didn’t like to be photographed, or the photos of so many other loved ones, many now no more than memories themselves.
Looking at myself in those photos, I wonder if I lined them up side by side, how much of the changes in myself (other than in wrinkles and pounds) I could chronicle.
What was I thinking about at the time such and such a photo was shot? What were the pressing problems of the day?
I can remember bits and pieces of things when I look at some of them, but for others, I have no idea; time has erased the cares of that day. What seemed so important at that time, so “life or death,” is inconsequential to me today.
So, I started thinking, what can these photos teach me about life, in general, and what lesson from them could I impart to the beautiful 22-year-old young woman who is my daughter?
I think one thing would be to always consider, when making big decisions, what will be important to you when the end of your life comes.
I think the photos themselves tell the story. It’s in the moments they capture — the smiles, the expressions, the joy and even the sorrow — these are the things we cherish, the things that will sum up what our life is, and maybe all it’s meant to be. I would tell her that maybe we’re measured and judged by the way we spent the time we were given.
So as I gather some of the memories of Miranda’s life, up to now, in photos in my hands, I will wish for her to use them to remember where she came from, who she is today and all she hopes for in the future.
I guess that’s why photos are the thing most of us go for first when trying to save our possessions from a tragedy. We can replace the TV, the furniture and the DVD player, but we can’t replace our box of memories.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.

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Column

By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
September 1, 2004

Spirit of charity should inspire us all
Oftentimes we see things that need to be done and just as the seed of charity begins to grow in our hearts, we come up with reasons why we can’t help this time; whether it is too little time or too little money, acts of charity are sparse.
Charity: an act or gift that benefits the public at large; a kind and lenient attitude toward people; a foundation created to promote the public good.
Keith Taylor often relied on the charity of his family and friends while he was going through school. Unexpected expenses like medical bills and car repairs would have gotten him in trouble if not for the help he received from those closest to him. Once he became gainfully employed as a professor of medieval British literature, it occurred to him there might be people in the United States faced with an unexpected bill and no one to turn to. He decided to do something so he started Modest Needs, an organization staffed with volunteers and funded by individuals to help those not already on welfare to stay self-sufficient by taking care of a bill that would otherwise mean the family would be evicted or lose their job. The average grant is $180 and the organization generally does not give more than $1,000 to any applicant. The organization does not accept money from corporations, foundations or state or federal governments because “that’s not what we’re about,” says Taylor. It is a group of charitable Americans helping others in need. Modest Needs receives about 300 requests a month from its website www.modestneeds.org. Taylor says that since 2002, Modest Needs has given $234,000 and saved its recipient families about $7.7 million in lost income. Who knows how many tax dollars have been saved through Taylor’s efforts and the charity of Americans toward strangers in need.
In the last month, a family in Washington had to choose between either making their house payments or getting health care for a serious illness. The family chose health care and, as a result, their house was set to go up for auction. The family needed just over $1,000 to stop the auction. Strangers from all over the country gave and the family’s home was saved. But what touched me the most was one woman’s response to the story. In June of this year, high medical expenses caused her home to be put up for auction. She wrote that after reading the Washington family’s story, she pledged the balance of her PayPal account, $14 and some odd cents, to help them keep their house, and she said she hasn’t slept so well in three months as she has since knowing she helped someone else avoid her fate.
Aid like that given by Modest Needs or by other community or faith-based charities is more effective and more beneficial than aid from taxpayers that must be filtered through the government at the local, state and federal levels. The Clothes Closet in Winder is one example. Individuals donate clothes, volunteers sell the clothes at a low-cost to the public and profits are used to help those in need. Individuals can help by donating their time one morning a month to staff the place or by donating clothes. Another local charity is Peace Place where battered women and their children can find shelter and help to get back on their feet and away from violence. They always have a list of things they need. There is an entire list of local opportunities to get involved and become charitable at the newspaper, you don’t have to pay with your pocketbook. Giving from the heart is so much more rewarding.
For his efforts, Taylor has learned a heartening lesson, that, when called upon, people do look after one another.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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