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A few weeks back, I fell down my front porch steps. That’s probably not an event worth mentioning, especially since I was sober.

I wasn’t being chased or chasing anyone. There was no ice. I took the Christmas wreath down from the front door and was walking back down the steps. My feet simply slid out from under me.

When you reach a certain age, falling hurts. A LOT. In my mind, I was falling in slow motion. I knew I was falling, and in that one or two seconds, I just prayed I didn’t hit my head or disfigure my ruggedly handsome face.

I didn’t land on anything soft. I landed on brick, and it was very painful. Luckily, I didn’t hurt anything but my pride. I wondered if any of my neighbors saw me fall and if they laughed.

I would have laughed. That’s just the kind of sense of humor I have.

I’ve thought a lot about that fall because — like other life events I read too much into — it represents something greater. A metaphor, if you will.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to fall so you know if you have what it takes to get back up again.”

It’s clunky, sure, but I’m still working on it. More than anything, I guess that’s the definition of resilience.

I’ve fallen into a lot of situations in my life that somehow worked out. People fall into friendships, relationships, marriages, etc. People fall in and out of love. They fall out with a friend or relative. Maybe you know someone who fell on hard times or owned something that fell apart.

And just like your feet sliding out from under you, sometimes you’re perplexed by how you fell into a situation.

I fell into a fruitful situation when I arrived at The News Courier in December 2010. It’s been a great run, though I’ve stumbled and fallen a few times along the way.

I’ve tried my damnedest to be fair to everyone, no matter what issue I wrote about. As I was telling someone recently, I figured if I had angered the same amount of people on both sides of an issue, I approached it fairly. That happened more often than not.

Some have accused me of sensationalism for the sake of newspaper sales. “Bad” news may travel faster and sell more than “good” news, but I would always prefer to report the good. The stories that will always stay with me won’t be the crimes, corruption or the guilty verdicts.

The stories about everyday Athenians and Limestone Countians who fell, picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and kept on going are the stories that move me. I love introducing readers to people who are the embodiment of resilience.

I’ll miss telling those stories, simply because there are hundreds I’ll never get around to. If you haven’t guessed by now, this is the last column I’ll write for The News Courier for the foreseeable future. I will wrap up my News Courier career next Friday.

I hadn’t even planned to write a “final” column, but Lora Scripps convinced me it was a good idea. I initially wanted to jump on a horse and ride off into the sunset as a small child yelled “Come back, Shane” somewhere in the distance. But I don’t ride a horse, and my name isn’t Shane.

I’m leaving the paper in capable hands. I may have been the newsroom captain, but I never claimed to be the best captain. I’m sure brighter days are ahead.

I do want to issue a sincere thanks to all the elected and appointed officials I’ve worked with over the years. If I named all of you, it would take up more room than my sentimental gibberish, and we all know my sentimental gibberish is more important.

I also want to thank my newsroom cohorts. Lora Scripps, Jean Cole, Jessica Barnett and Jeff Edwards excel at what they do. Maybe — just maybe — they learned a thing or two from me and I learned a thing or two from them.

I also want to thank my parents, who for years have told me how much better this paper is than their hometown paper. They’re probably only saying that because I’m the editor, but it’s still nice to hear.

I want to thank my wife for being supportive of my career. She’s lived through her share of rescheduled plans, missed dinners, late dinners and canceled getaways because I couldn’t pull myself away from the office long enough to enjoy life. She’s been there through high and low tide, and I can’t thank her enough.

Thank you to the members of our editorial and community advisory boards. Snacks and sodas aren’t much compensation for your valuable time and input, but they are sincerely appreciated.

Finally, there are a handful of people I won’t name, but I hope they know who they are. At least one of them claims to be the president of my fan club. One summoned me to his office right around Thanksgiving just to say he appreciated what I do. Another usually calls me once or twice a week to talk about all the interesting things going on. Her mom, Gertrude, is a charter member of my fan club. The last is a city councilman who is the embodiment of faith, strength and perseverance.

On the days I fall, these are the people who give me the strength and encouragement to get back up and keep going.

This community and this newspaper have much to look forward to in the months and years ahead. The growth won’t stop, and I have a feeling some pretty amazing things are in store.

Thank you, readers, for putting up with me all these years. I especially want to thank the ones who took the time to call, write or stop me on the street to provide positive or negative feedback. It’s good you care enough about the paper to do that.

I don’t really have any other parting words.

Wait, of course I do.

Adopt pets from shelters. Spay and neuter. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be kind to everyone. Vote your conscience. Support journalists. Read The News Courier.


Roll the credits.

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