He and his wife Dana have done a wonderful job of raising their children and yet find time to give to the community.
The column spoke about the raising Edwin was blessed to have by his parents, Dr. Edwin and Jackie Swords.
After the column was published, Mrs. Swords passed away on June 11. She was 92. Edwin and his sisters, Debra and Denise, suffered the loss of their beloved mother.
The three siblings lost their father, Doc Senior, on Dec. 10. He was 92.
Now I can’t begin to tell you how the Swords children are feeling right now, but feel sure that they are devastated by losing both of their parents in the space of only a few months.
I guess there are some that will tell them how fortunate they were to have their parents as long as they did. And they were.
But knowing that doesn’t take away their pain.
It still must hurt.
Doc Swords worked as a dentist in Canton since 1951. He built his business through hard work and personality. You see, Doc Swords was very successful. But if you saw him out and about town and didn’t know who he was, I doubt you would have known of his success. He was never the type to flaunt it.
When he wasn’t working hard at the dentist office, he worked hard at home. And he and Mrs. Swords instilled that same work ethic into their children.
I have so many memories of being in their home and being treated like one of the family.
There is no telling how many times Doc Senior or Mrs. Swords would come outside on my arrival and protect me from getting attacked by their Dobermans.
I wouldn’t even roll the window down until they came outside. Edwin wouldn’t normally come out. I am pretty sure that he took great joy in watching me try to make it from my car to the door without getting bit.
I can’t remember a time that I was there that Doc Senior wasn’t out working in the yard.
Sure, he could have hired someone to get that kind of work done.
But that wasn’t him. Doing that would have sent the wrong message to his children.
To say Doc Senior retired several years ago is somewhat misleading. He may have stopped working on teeth but he didn’t stop going to the office. Because his life’s work wasn’t about the bottom line, it was about his patients that were his friends. What a beautiful lesson to us all.
Before Mrs. Swords passed away in June, Edwin told me several times how hurtful it was to see his mother suffering with dementia. I had the opportunity to also talk with Doc Senior at the nursing home where Mrs. Swords was a part-time resident.
He would talk to me about his soulmate in that quiet and gentle tone he had.
He missed her then even though she was still alive physically. I somewhat understood his dilemma.
Doc Senior could have stopped living along with his spouse but he didn’t. He enjoyed walking. He enjoyed talking.
And in 2012 at the age of 91, he was the oldest participant to finish the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. This was another message that he sent to his children; never stop living or give up on your dreams.
I can’t say I know how many years Doc and Mrs. Swords were married. But since they had great-grandchildren it would stand to reason the number is far more than my age of 51.
That in itself is far less common than it used to be. I am sure even through their success, they had their trials. But their love for each other far outweighed anything that might have tried to pry them apart.
So Edwin, Debra, Denise and the rest of the family, I don’t know how you feel.
But I do know this. That while your parents taught you life’s lessons through the way they lived in front of you, they taught others like me also.
And I would have to say the most important lesson Doc Senior taught me was that no matter how successful you are, don’t let that determine who you are. He didn’t.
Just six months after losing the love of his life, Doc Senior’s heartbreak ended.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.