Her question to me made me think about life and death. I thought about the many tombstones I have looked at that give the date of birth and the date of death separated by a dash. Then I thought about a song that addresses the dash between the two dates. I can’t remember if it’s a gospel song or a country one. Sometimes those two genres are only separated by a fine line.
My answer to her was that we all come in to this world with nothing and we will all leave with nothing. The most important thing is the dash on the tombstone.
My columns are about my dash. They are about things I have seen or done that have stayed with me for some reason. I can’t remember much about yesterday. But the things I write about are seared in my mind.
One particular event occurred sometime during the 1980s. I was attending Chalcedonia Baptist Church at the time.
A young boy named Jacob Carnes had been saved and was to be baptized. Jacob is the son of the late Ricky Carnes. His mother, Jeffrey, is still living, along with his older brother, Richie.
The church decided, since the weather was warm, instead of filling the baptizing pool for one baptizing, it would be a good idea to hold the service on the banks of the Etowah River close to Ball Ground.
Before the baptizing, there was a brief rain shower that did nothing to dampen the spirit of the moment. If anything, it added to the spirituality of the moment. Little Jacob was taken down into the river after the rain and baptized in front of a quite large crowd. There was a peace and calmness on and about the river on this day.
His mama and daddy were happy on this day. We all were but none more than them.
Jacob’s moment will forever be a part of my dash. It will be a part of his dash along with the dash of everyone else that was in attendance.
Richie and Jacob are now both married and have children of their own. I don’t see them as often as I once did. But they are good folks who will forever be a part of my dash.
I often tend to write about people who have done good things for the community. I sometimes write about people that you read about in the news.
However, other than Richie becoming a doctor of education, I don’t read about them in the news on a weekly basis.
Saying that, they are the kind of men that you can call in the middle of the night and they will come running without question and without expecting anything in return. They are the kind of men who truly make Cherokee County a great place to live. They are the kind of men who deserve to be written about. They deserve it not because of their position in the community, but because their word is their word.
I hope they share the story of Jacob’s baptizing with their children. Not everyone reading this has ever had the privilege of witnessing something so special, especially in the middle of our river, the Etowah.
For years, many people have confused Richie and me because of our looks. I have always hated that for Richie. Most would think that Richie would like to crawl in a hole every time that has happened.
You see, Richie lives a good life with this unconditional love for everyone he knows. He can’t even be coaxed into acting ugly. Me, on the other hand, I somehow missed that lesson somewhere along the way.
But even when he has been called Chris, he just smiles and goes on.
The boys have grown into fine young men. I know their mama is proud of them. And as Ricky was a free spirit, he gave them boys something to make the most out of their dash. He gave them love for family and love for life.
They both have surpassed me in many ways. But I know that they are only a phone call away. That’s something.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.