The first Mother’s Day without her

I’ve tried hard to keep grief out of my columns lately. There’s only so much melancholy and broken-heartedness readers can take when reading the weekly paper over a cup of coffee. But with this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but write a little about my own mom today.

This must be the place: You may be gone, but your impact remains

I remembered immediately.

Scrolling through the Facebook stream on Monday afternoon, I came across a post from a dear high school friend who had some sad news to share. A mutual friend of ours, from way back up on the Canadian border, in my native North Country, had suddenly and tragically passed away the night before.

Monteith remembered as man of the people

When speaking to the many people in Swain County and beyond who knew David Monteith either personally or professionally, they all used the same word to describe him — integrity.

Monteith leaves a lasting legacy in Swain

It was July or August of 1999, best I remember, and the Swain County Commissioners at that time were meeting in a cramped boardroom in the Administration Building. I’m not sure if anyone from a newspaper other than The Smoky Mountain Times covered these meetings, but we had published the first issue of our upstart newspaper in June of that year. As its only reporter at that time, I was finally getting around to one of Swain’s meetings.

I was a little out of sorts as I wandered in unannounced. I found an empty chair against the wall that was so close you could have touched the commissioners. They all greeted me as I told them who I was and what I was there for.

Two elk found dead on Jonathan Creek dairy farm

A technician with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission was out for a routine check of an elk fence installed at the Ralph Ross and Sons Dairy Farm on Jan. 31 when he spotted two young bull elk dead on the property.

A heavy but hopeful heart for the new year

Throughout my entire life, I’ve awoken on New Year’s Day energized to be more, do more, see more. This year was very different. I woke up wanting to do less, to simplify everything. I woke up feeling steadfast, reflective. 

My mom’s been by my side for 36 holiday seasons, so the first one without her felt strange and melancholy. Thinking back on the last couple of months, there are some bright spots like snuggling on the couch watching movies under the glow of the Christmas tree, making gingerbread houses with the whole family, and visiting my sister and niece in D.C. for a mommy and kid weekend. 

A story about coping with loss

Sometimes loss and death give little or no warning of their arrival. The doorbell rings at two in the morning, and we open the door to find a policeman waiting to say, “Sir, I’ve got some bad news.” We arrive home from a normal day at work and find our beloved spouse lying on the floor, fallen with a brain aneurysm. We go to a hospital expecting to bring home a healthy baby and instead find ourselves arranging a funeral. We go into work to a job we love and find ourselves leaving an hour later under guard and with a pink slip in our pocket. We find our beloved in the arms of another and wonder what the hell happened.

Pockets of happiness have become lifelines

For a week I’ve been thinking about what to write in this week’s column, and very little clarity came until today. Traditionally, I love writing about anything. A new business in town, my son’s homemade Halloween costume, a great book I’m reading, the crispness of orchard apples, an upcoming trip.

The before and the after — living with grief

There are only a handful of life experiences that result in a definitive before and after. I now know that losing a parent is one of those. 

My mom passed away on Sunday, Aug. 14, after a three-year battle with cancer. While she had been sick a long time, her death was unexpected and sudden. The week before she passed, she took my two little boys to the North Carolina Zoo. We knew she was getting worse, but she was fighting and still responding to some of her treatments. We thought she had much more time left in her. 

Moving mountains: A rare bright spot in the relentless fight against prescription pill abuse

fr narcanA life-saving antidote to reverse drug overdoses is finding widespread acceptance amid the prescription pain pill epidemic.

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