March 25, 2011 9:26:00 AM
Throughout my career there had been opportunities for positions in Mississippi and Alabama. With the stigma and myths of small Southern towns we had never considered any of them. Then in 2006 when we were ready to leave Florida my human resource Director and friend told me of an opportunity with my company at MUW.
On sheer faith and the encouragement and prodding of my friend I came to look at Columbus. From the first moment I drove onto the campus of MUW I knew this was somewhere I would enjoy being. As I met with individuals from the university and drove through this beautiful town, it only made it clearer this could be home.
After accepting my new position, we began the process of moving to Columbus, and in May of 2007, we purchased our home on Southside and moved in a few months later. From the first day we realized we were in a very caring town. We started right in working on landscaping and were always joking that if we wanted to work for six hours we planned to be in the yard for 12 because of all the individuals who would stop and welcome us to the neighborhood.
We immediately found ourselves busy with invites to dinners, local events and exploring this beautiful area. For two years our lives were so happy enjoying our new-found friends, being active in the community and exploring surrounding areas. Then in 2009 my partner was diagnosed with cancer and I in 2010. Again our thoughts were clouded with stigmas of small town hospitals. We thought we would be traveling to either, Birmingham, Tupelo or Tuscaloosa for treatment.
Once again Columbus would prove that those stigmas and myths were just that, myths. From the first day of our illnesses we felt we received the best medical care possible along with being shown nothing but compassion, understanding, caring and warmth from everyone we had contact with during those difficult times. The outpouring of support and love gave us the strength we needed.
From friends mowing our lawn, to watching our pets, to keeping food in our kitchen and the ear to listen or the shoulder to cry on, we could never have asked to be in a better place. I survived my illness and recovered fully but God''s plan was not the same for my partner.
On March 17, 2011, with friends by his side, James passed away. I had always known we touched many lives but it has amazed and overwhelmed even me at the depth of the impact he made in his life and how that impact is being shared openly with all who knew him.
I had been asked if I was going go leave Columbus after James'' death and my response has been I would be a fool to leave an area where there''s so many caring individuals and support for me during a time when I need it the most. Why would I want to go somewhere where I knew nobody in a time when I need them by my side?
I and I hope others will share our story so maybe someone else will take that leap of faith and will have the chance to experience the warmth of Southern hospitality as we did. I do want to especially thank my family, friends and neighbors, First Presbyterian Church, Mississippi University for Women, Sodexo, the entire staffs of Baptist Memorial GT, the Whitecar Cancer Center, Dr. Jerry Stennet and Dr. Robert H. Jones Jr and especially Brenda Waldrop and her staff of Gentiva Hospice for the kindness, support and compassion all have shown during a very difficult time. God bless you all.