March 4, 2014

My Point Is...Anniversary of a less bumpy road

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As we get older, more and more dates on the calendar can be marked as special dates or days in our lives.

Today, March 3, is yet another example.

In January, a column entitled “A Very Special Day” described my four-year mark of being back on staff at The Sentinel-Echo. That day is an unforgettable date because it is also my daughter’s birthday — the day my life changed in many ways.

Today, March 3, is another such day.

Today marks the 20-year anniversary of my return to my hometown. Many things have come and gone during the two decades back in London. My children successfully completed high school and have moved on to their adult lives. I have had experiences and met people that have left a lasting impact on my life. I was fortunate enough to spend the remaining four years of my mother’s life with her on a day-to-day basis and I married my husband of now 15-plus years. With over 13 years’ experience as “Nana,” the title becomes more and more treasured with each passing day.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I packed up that Ryder truck and drove to London, bringing hope of a new beginning for myself and my family in the town where I always called home.

Choosing March 3 as the day to return home was a deliberate and emotional decision on my part.

Just one year prior on the same day, my Uncle Fred left his Earthly legacy with his family and friends. It was the first passing of an immediate family member in over 18 years and left us all devastated.

For many years, Uncle Fred and Aunt Norma’s three children and myself were the only grandchildren in the family. The four of us were aged exactly two years apart, and my holidays and summers revolved around my first cousins’ presence. Easter, Decoration, Thanksgiving and Christmas were all about having them there. Many summers were spent at their Ohio home — playing tether ball, swimming in the creek and at Whitaker’s Lake, watching Batman on TV, exploring the woods behind their house and visiting with family and neighbors.  There were camping trips to Burnside in the fold-up camper we kids named “Frederick,” as well as summer trips to King’s Island and the Cincinnati Zoo. It was the greatest thrill to drive through downtown Cincinnati with my head hanging out the window and inhaling the smell of factories and distilleries rather than the pungent cow manure and garden bug dust that defined my usual country life.

Choosing the day my uncle died for my move back to London was symbolic in several ways. It was my way of remembering my journey back to my roots, just as Uncle Fred was returned to his just a year earlier. It was a “homecoming” of sorts, but one with bittersweet memories. The 20 years since my return are definitely one of the most positive and productive of my life. The journey here has not been without its share of heartaches and trials, but the road has definitely been less bumpy than the one traveled before.

There are problems as with any town or any family, but when the overall goal is for the betterment of the whole rather than the individual, the possibilities are endless.

To quote a line from my favorite movie, “There’s no place like home.”