Indeed, it takes a village

I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to those stupid little personality quizzes that you find on the internet.

I’m sure you know the ones I mean. They can be found prominently on websites like BuzzFeed, and they help you determine important things like the minor character you would be on the popular TV show “Friends.”

I know. It’s a vapid hobby, and I should be doing better things with my time, but here we are … and again, I’m using my column as a confessional.

Anyway, I came across one a few weeks ago that posed some rather interesting and deep questions. One of them was about the people you’ve encountered in your life that have really left a mark. The quiz got me to thinking, and I realized the old adage of “it takes a village” is very true. I’ve been blessed with quite the cast of characters in my 30 years.

Of course, the cast starts with my parents, and they really deserve a special shout out. They’re exceptional, salt-of-the-earth people, and one of them has a double celebration this week. My dad, Roger, turned 62 on Wednesday, and he also officially marked his retirement. This time, I think retirement will hold for him, too.

You see, he’s done this charade of “retiring” before. After 28 years with the Brookhaven Police Department, he retired with the rank of captain in 2008, and he was supposedly done working for anyone but himself at that time. He was back at work within a few months because he was bored. He’s that type of guy.

Anyway, he spent another 12 years working for a company called Primos as their master hunting call tuner. He’s been in their national ads before, and he’s quite talented, but he was ready to call it quits and come home. He has a lot of projects to do, including finishing the house he’s building. That’s been in the works for many years, and now he’ll have the time to finish it. I’ll share some pictures of it sometime, but just know it’s beautiful.

I could go on and on about my dad, who’s also a U.S. Army Military Police veteran and an all-around awesome dude. The same word – “awesome” – holds true for my mom, too, who is also in her second “tour of duty” with work. She retired after more than 25 years as a social worker with the Mississippi Department of Human Services, but her love of people drew her back into the profession. She’s still a social worker, and she helps people on a daily basis with life-altering matters.

Like I said, I have awesome parents, and it’s totally OK to be jealous. They’ve been outstanding role models and influences.

There are so many others in my life’s cast of characters who deserve recognition, and I’ve talked to you before about how close I was to my grandparents. There are also the many folks who influenced my education and career, such as Tammie Brewer, who helped me get a start in the newspaper business way back in 2005. I was a pimply faced, smart-mouthed kid, and she saw something in me. I had no idea I’d still be in newspapers 15 years later, but Tammie deserves a lot of credit for that start. Thank you.

Who else? Oh, the list could go on and on, but there’s not enough ink and paper to print the names of all of the people who’ve guided me along the way. However, I’ll never forget the folks I’ve encountered, the ones who helped shape my life, even in the smallest of ways. I’m talking about the people who did the major things – like, you know, raising me – and also the folks who were just kind when I needed it the most. Kindness goes a long way, and I remember a lot of big smiles and nice words.

Those positive encounters far outweigh any negative ones I’ve experienced, and I cherish them all.

I encourage you to spend some time this week thinking about your village. If you haven’t properly told someone thank you for the way they’ve influenced you, give them a call or write them a letter. The Postal Service needs our support more than ever, and a heartfelt letter warms the insides like nothing else.

I promise, it won’t be a vapid exercise like a dumb BuzzFeed quiz, and it’ll light up someone’s day. The world needs that joy, and you do, too.

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