After my husband of 28 years died in 1991, I was a ship without a rudder. When I made the difficult decision to leave my home of 20 years in South Hill for a job in Fredericksburg, I received an encouraging card from my older sister, Doris, showing a mountain scene with a rainbow in the distance over some pine trees. Superimposed over the trees was the verse, “When the going seems all uphill, just think of the view from the top.” I framed the card and instinctively knew that one day I would write a column titled “The View From the Top.” That column began here in April 1998, after I relocated to Richmond to help care for my parents. In 2000, the column became “Reflections,” after a magazine redesign.
Richmond magazine has undergone another redesign, this time with longtime editor-in-chief Susan Winiecki becoming associate publisher in April. I’ve often told Susan, who hired me, that if she changed roles, I’d be leaving as well. I got a boost in that direction recently when she told me about the magazine’s upcoming changes and that my column space was needed for expansion of arts, hard news and dining coverage. This piece draws to a close what a friend described as “one helluva run” for a magazine column. Over 16 years and three months, I’ve written 179 columns and never missed a deadline. Been late for some, but never missed one.
Thanks to Susan and the magazine’s numerous staff members, especially Carla Davis and Chad Anderson. They are superb editors and superb human beings. Some of my first sentences here: “This column will be about life and how some folks have lived it and how they have gotten strong in the broken places. I’ll address various subjects like veterans and the homeless.”
While doing that, I’ve also been privileged to celebrate my upbringing in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, paying homage to my stalwart parents, who taught me to love education, inspired me through example and always believed in me. This column has become synonymous with my heartbeat. I’m going to miss it terribly. I’d planned on taking a belly dancing class and writing about it. At least I’ve spared you that! I want to thank those who’ve entrusted me with their deepest personal stories, enriching my life and filling my heart to overflowing while doing so. I shall hold those memories tenderly in the night.
Thank you for the personal notes to me or letters to the editor. I received one such note from Carol Wray, an adviser for Clover Hill High School’s Interact Club, which is sponsored by the Brandermill Rotary Club. After I got wind of the school club’s efforts to quietly collect food and clothing for homeless students, I wrote about it. Wray’s note: “Thank you for writing about our students in need. Because of your article, we have had an outpouring of support. They say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ This is indeed revealed by the writing of your article. We are very grateful.” Wray’s note was accompanied by another card, signed by 26 Interact members. And, after I gave a copy of Reflections of a Purple Zebra (a book that’s a compilation of 60 of my previously published columns) to Neil November, my guiding light for years, Neil wrote, “I’m so proud of you. One day I’ll say, ‘I knew her when ….’ ” Those wonderful words, along with many others I’ve received, have soothed my soul and inspired me to write better. However, the greatest gift from writing this column has been having so many of you become priceless friends.
So, to you, my ever-faithful readers, I’ll bid goodbye from this page. I’ll pray for you and hope you do the same for me. I also hope that, whatever mountains you climb, your ascent will not be all uphill. And, may the view from the top be as beautiful as the ones you’ve shared with me for almost two decades.