A decade full of memories

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2020

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Some believe that when a person advances in age, the time has arrived to pump the brakes on life and slow down.

Those who believe that apparently didn’t go through a decade like yours truly just experienced.

2010-to-2019 saw cheers and tears for this aging editor. But life is a like a roller coaster ride, and the recently closed decade was exactly that between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2019.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way.

The saddest day of the decade for me came on April 21, 2012 at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. It was there that my sister – Cynthia “Cindy” Marie Bryant Vinson – bravely ended her seven-year fight against a disease that also claimed our mother, Blanche Joyner Bryant eight years earlier.

Cindy was only 62 at the time of her death. She was so full of life and love….raising two children while taking care of the needs of her husband, Robert “Rock” Vinson, during his five-year battle vs. ALS. Rock died in 1999 at the age of 49.

What I miss the most about my sister – other than her tales of shopping and trip excursions – is exchanging cards on our respective birthdays. We always tried to outdo each other, exchanging jabs about our age. I could always “one-up” her since she was four years older than me.

Less than one year later (March 18, 2013 to be exact) I lost a man who was a second father to me. Glenn (“Stumpy”) Johnson was my late mom’s first cousin and was our next door neighbor (around the curve) when I was growing up.

Stumpy’s daughter, Debby, son, Glenn Jr. (better known as Bunky) all grew up together on Pinetops Road. We would share trips to the beach, Gaston Lake, White Lake, and to Stumpy’s favorite fishing hole at Lake Santee-Cooper in South Carolina.

I can still envision Stumpy today….sitting in his lounge chair at his home; a UNC cap on his head, and rooting for his beloved Tarheels.

And there’s one other man that I sorely miss. Lee Swink was my wife’s brother-in-law. He was the ultimate handyman….could repair and make new again anything he put his hands on. He was also a master gun-maker; his long barreled shotguns were the envy of those he competed against at turkey shoots all across northeastern North Carolina.

Lee lost his battle with cancer on June 24, 2017.

And now for the good news of my decade, the majority of which occurred in 2013.

In early June of that year, my brother, Tommy, (who performed most of the work) myself and my wife completed renovations to my homeplace, allowing me to once again call Northampton County as home.

On June 22 of that year, I was honored to walk my “little girl” – Danielle Rae Bryant – down the aisle at Colerain Baptist Church to become Mrs. Brandon Harrell. Their wedding date coincided with my 60th birthday. She had my blessings with that as I told her after I’m dead and gone, June 22 will still stand as a day of celebration.

And before the curtain closed on 2013 (Nov. 19 to be exact), I stood near the door of a labor and delivery room at Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital and cried tears of joy upon hearing my grandson, Brody Ray Harrell, take his first breath. That was perhaps the most emotional experience of my 66 years on this Earth.

Before the end of the decade, I celebrated the births of other family members: Laura Bryant, Braelyn and Emma Chamblee, Tommy Vinson, Sophie and Charlie Varel, Carter Bright, Logan Bryant, and Emmitt Martin.

There were, of course, other highlights that came during the recently closed decade, but I’m out of space for this week’s column.

Here’s hoping for all to experience lasting memories as we enter the 2020 decade.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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