It may have been as much as a ream of paper that got trashed 14 years ago when I penned my first newspaper column. Before I submitted it, I asked fellow employees what they thought about me tendering a weekly story. As I would have expected, I received a bushel of reasons why I shouldn’t. “Why give your opinion to a company that buys ink by the barrel,” one employee said. But being the obstinate person that I was, I did it my way and have never regretted my decision. Once my column was published, the anxious game of waiting for good responses began.

When I received my first positive feedback, it was like someone fired a blank pistol at a starting gate. I was off and writing and happy for the opportunity to do it again and again. It was 2006, and I was living and working in the Volunteer State of Tennessee. The hardest thing for me was saying hi to my readers for the very first time. But now, I am finding it even harder to say farewell to my readers for the very first time.

The positive feedback I have received over the years has given me more excitement than my first successful bicycle ride. The decision to make this announcement hasn’t been easy, but the year 2020 hasn’t been easy either. Our world is in turmoil, but there is no need to throw in the towel because of hardship. There is no need to be discouraged because of the pain associated with change when change might be needed. But there is a need to be happy because everyone has an internal drive that keeps them moving forward.

When I relocated back to Georgia in 2011, I was very fortunate that a local newspaper picked up my column. But being a volunteer columnist wasn’t without its challenges. Keeping a regular work schedule, competing with syndicated columnists, drafting ideas, and trying to reach across all levels of thought taught me discipline and gave me insight.

I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to write this final message, although the words were not easy to find. It’s my sincere wish that no one is sad because it’s over but hope that many frowns turn into smiles because it happened. I don’t consider myself a has-been, I just consider myself a once-was.

A few people will read this with delight, and hopefully, a few will read it with sad thoughts. In the words attributed to Shakespeare’s Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” In my own very heartfelt words, good wishes to all.

This is not a goodbye, but a thank you to anyone who contributed in any way so that I could call myself a columnist. A goodbye means that someone’s departing, but goodbye to me means years of great memories. In the year 1570, the word goodbye was combined with other words and called godbwye. It was said as a farewell that meant, “God be with ye.” To express my feelings, I hope the year 1570 touches you like you have touched me.

I have made some great friends and many wonderful acquaintances over the years. My new friends never stepped in my way except when I was falling. They knew where I had been, showed faith in my future and liked me just the way that I was. Friendship is fondness that comes from shared respect and good will, and it’s a glue that can bind the world.

A ream is defined as 500 identical sheets of paper. It is my dream that each of you have more than 500 delightful weeks ahead. Thank you for giving me many miles of great memories and for reading my final column.

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Charlie Sewell lives in Cherokee County. His book “I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Reminiscences Filled With Twists of Devilment, Devotion and A Little Danger” is available on Amazon. Email him at IdratheryoucallmeCharlie@gmail.com.

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