Like a fulfillment of a prophecy, when I got my high school yearbook, underneath my picture read, "The best way to do many things is to do one thing at a time."
As I read it for the first time I remember thinking, "What was the yearbook staff thinking? That was a dumb thing to put under my picture."
But apparently someone had a vision of my future and an understanding of me, far greater than I did of myself. Through the years that phrase has come back to haunt me many times over and, in some cases, repeating that mantra to myself has been my salvation, as was the case this last weekend.
Last Friday our slowing economy caught up with about a dozen employees of Swift Communications, the parent company of, among their many newspapers, The Record-Courier. I was one of the ones chosen to be laid off.
It took more than just a little while for the words "laid off" to sink in. Maybe those words haven't exactly become a reality to me yet. You see I never really considered what I did at the paper, for almost four years, a job. Most people don't love their jobs. They do what they do to earn a paycheck. For the most part, I did what I did because I loved it, as most people who work for newspapers do. Can't say I was great at it. I am sure, at times, I was my editor's greatest frustration when I repeated certain mistakes over and over again, but my heart was there just the same.
I guess the hardest thing will be the separation from a group of people that became family, not just co-workers. I will miss the laughter, the office banter and the simple sharing of daily life. I will also miss the daily connection of all the wonderful people I have come to know in the Valley and in south county.
In the time I have been there, you have all shared so much of my life and with so much caring. Sometimes I don't know how I would have made it through some of my personal hard times without all of you. You all supported me through the loss of a father-in-law, a much-loved aunt, then my father, my stepfather, and then the very worst, my husband, all within a few months of each other.
You helped me celebrate the joys of the birth of a grandson, you held my hand when my mother was sick and then grieved with me over the loss of my sister. And through it all, you allowed me to get a little emotionally scattered, then you were there to help me pull the shattered pieces together and keep going.
To Adele, you can flip the light switch all you want now and I won't have to glare at you. Joey, maybe they will get you a real office turtle someday but until then, take care of the one I left you. Victoria, keep on singing your songs, they come from your heart. Jaylene, Newport News has nothing on us. Sheila, because of you, I love the word "hilarious."
Susie, I still want to share in the new baby when it comes. Being a surrogate parent to a new baby filly or colt is an exciting time. Sharlene, you have filled some big shoes and done it so well. You're a great "People" person. Scott (Scooter), I will miss our break-time and don't let those chuckar get the best of you. Tony, just think of all the world's problems we have solved during our breaks out back - we done good.
Shannon, God bless you for making all of us look good by catching most of our mistakes with a lot of red ink and giving us photographs that don't require a single word of explanation. Barb, you have the rare gift of making everyone who walks in the door feel special.
Meg, you are a ray of sunshine even when you try to be grumpy and, by the way, you fail miserably at the grumpy part. Lauren, I have had the chance to watch you grow into a beautiful young woman. Alice, without you, the whole place would fall apart. To our new publisher, Don, welcome to a wonderful family.
And saving the very best for last. Thank you Kurt, I think I will miss you the most. You have tried to teach me so much and have been so patient. You have kept us all in good spirit. You are the glue that keeps a good family together.
I will keep on keepin' on doing Sweetwater Notes as a columnist and here is where one thing at a time is still my life's lesson. I will have more time to devote to the south county. I will have more time to spend with all of you. I will have more time to take care of my mother since she broke her hip. I may even have time to do some art work again. Hu-m-m-m, didn't I just say "one thing at a time"? OK, so I'm a slow learner.
Until next week...just keep on keepin' on.
-- Jonni Hill can be reached at JHILL47@aol.com.