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Doug Creamer Column: Good times

Doug Creamer writes a religion column twice a month for the SNAP.

I believe we are off to a good school year. On the first day of school, I got dressed and went outside and took a selfie standing on my front steps. I sent the picture to my mother with the caption, “Could it be my last first day of school?”

Even though I feel positive and excited about starting another school year, I am wondering if this will be my last. Some of my colleagues have been teasing me about when and if I will ever retire. I tell them only the Man upstairs knows.

There is a strong sense of optimism running through the school. For a seasoned vet like myself, I know we are in the honeymoon stage. Everyone is on their best behavior right now. I would like this to last for a while, but we all know that challenges will face us. That’s when we will find out if it is just a feeling or truly a new beginning to a great year.

One of the ways that I am refreshed each summer is by my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta to see some great friends. I made the trip the week before school started to give myself that final booster shot. I had a hard time sleeping the night before my trip up because I was so excited to be with my good friends.

We were expecting a high in the 90s here, but as I drove through Sparta the thermometer read the low 70s. I rolled my windows down and enjoyed the refreshing, cooler air. The views as I drove up the mountain and through town continue to take my breath away. The familiar sights were welcome to my spirit.

When I arrived at their house I was greeted by their black lab, Daisy. She was barking up a storm and keeping me away from their house. I honked the horn several times as there was no cell signal. Finally, my friend came out and chided me, “Come on, Doug, Daisy won’t bother you. Just put your hand out for her to sniff.” He was right, she let me pass. Daisy is an interesting dog. She won’t let anyone pet her except my friends, her mother, and me. Once Daisy got a few good sniffs, she was glued to me and wanting to be petted.

I arrived just before lunch and stayed until after supper. We spent the day talking and sharing our lives. We have a very open and honest relationship with each other. My friend’s wife has told me many times that I know some things about her husband that she doesn’t. We have been the best of friends for more than twenty years. Over the years we have shared our struggles and talked through problems.

This year our two biggest topics were health issues and me trying to decide when to pull the trigger and finally retire. The latter is a tough issue for me because I love being a teacher. It’s hard to decide to walk away from something I love. I have been assured by many teacher friends who have blazed that trail already that I will know when the time is right.

On the health front, we talked about the many health issues we are facing. We aren’t getting any younger and as my great-aunt used to tell me, “Old age does not come alone.” We aren’t old, but age is sneaking in and giving each of us health issues. It’s nice to have someone safe to talk with about such private issues and to realize that we are not alone as we struggle with them.

As I hugged my friends good-bye and got in the car to leave, I had to wipe a tear away as I love to be there and hate to leave. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the two of them standing on the porch. They snuggled and kissed, which made me smile. They remain close as ever in spite of the ups and downs in their lives. Their love burns strong, which is one of the reasons why I like to be there.

I want to encourage you to treasure your friends. Work to maintain the fire of that friendship. Life is full of good days and bad days; good friends will stand with you no matter what kind of day you are facing. You know that faith and prayer are the cornerstones of my life, but sometimes the love, hugs, listening ears, and understanding of good friends can be a source of strength to make it through life’s trials.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or doug@dougcreamer.com.