This lesson should have been learned much earlier

Published 1:43 am Saturday, October 27, 2018

In Rev. Walter Albritton’s book, “God is Not Done with You,” he listed 10 things worth doing the rest of our lives. One especially spoke to me: “Tell your friends how much they mean to you.”

She was one of those special people—a woman who always had a smile on her face. Although I had met her through my job as a newspaper staff writer and did not know her very well, she made me feel as if I was her very special friend. Our association stemmed from the many activities she participated in and sitting a few pews away from each other at church on Sunday mornings.

I had made her picture at various civic, social and church events in which she was active and she often brought items to the newspaper for publication.

One day as she started to leave the office, she turned to me and invited me to attend a meeting as her guest. “Now I don’t want you to bring your camera. Leave it here at work. I want you to come and enjoy yourself,” she said.

Another time she showed up at the office holding a big bag of pecans. “They’re for you,” she said. “I hope you enjoy them.” I was surprised at her thoughtful gesture of friendship.

One day she came in with a large group of women. They had an appointment for a photograph to promote an up-coming event. One of them had been delayed, so we all stood outside, chatting while we waited. They had been associated with each other for years and knew each other well. The conversation that day was relaxed and happy, sprinkled with laughter.

Some time later after the photograph was published, she and I marveled at the composition. So many times when you make group pictures, at that very second, someone has a peculiar expression or somebody involuntarily closes their eyes. I took several shots and the darkroom person and I checked the negatives to select the best one for publication.

She was pleased. We agreed that something good had happened. As large as the group was, nobody had closed an eye or frowned that split second when the photograph was taken

I had no idea that was the last time I would see this special person who always greeted me with a smile and called me her friend.

Soon afterwards, I heard she was very sick. I was troubled and knew I needed to contact her. I kept thinking about her, but I did not telephone, send a card or visit. Any one of those would have taken little time, but I was busy with work and family and kept putting it off.

Then it was too late. I felt so guilty. It seems she did the giving. I did the taking. All I could do was hope she had known I cared. Rev. Albritton’s words taught me a lesson I wish I had learned years ago.




Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter.