• 61°

Sharon Randall: Best time of life

By Sharon Randall

Do me a favor. Take a minute and look back over your years. Never mind how long you’ve lived. Think about it.When was the best time of your life?

Skip childhood. It had its moments, good and bad, but when it was over, most of us were ready to move on.

I’ll begin with 18. At my high school graduation, I gave a speech thanking parents and teachers and classmates for all they’d taught me and the many kindnesses they’d shown me.

People said it was the best speech they’d ever heard, mostly because it was short.

That weekend, my friends and I drove with our chaperones (two of the most fun women ever) to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for a long weekend. We spent every day lying in the sun and every night dancing at the Pavillion.

Then we drove back to reality and I spent the summer working in the office of a mill where my mother and sister worked in the plant. I also got to model clothes for the company’s catalog. I weighed 115 pounds, wore fake eyelashes and felt like Cher.

That fall, thanks to a full scholarship, I was the first person in my family to go to college. I went to class, did my homework and stayed up late every night talking with other 18-year-olds about Civil Rights, Vietnam, soul music and what we wanted to do in life.

Eighteen was a very good year.

Two years later, I left college, flew to California, married a high school teacher/basketball coach and soon after, started a family. I had three babies in five years. Those were some of the hardest and happiest years of my life. I loved, more or less, every minute of them.

When my youngest started school, I took a job in the library of the local newspaper. I wrote some stories freelance and got promoted to a feature writer.

A few years later, I began writing a column. Pretty soon, it was syndicated, and I started hearing from people I’d never met, readers around the country, who said my stories were their stories, too.

I liked those years a lot.

Then my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer and began a four-year battle fighting for his life. There are gifts that come with hardship. We were blessed in countless ways. They were good years, but I would never want to relive them.

After my husband died, I woke up one morning to realize my children were grown and I was living alone in a four-bedroom house with five sets of dishes and nobody to feed.

I made a choice that day—one I’ve tried to make every day since then, for more than 20 years—to move forward with my life. To live in the present, not in the past or the future, but today.

I kept writing the column, did a lot of speaking around the country and traveled the world. I spent time with family and friends, and a lot of time alone. It was just what I needed.

But after seven years as a widow, I realized I wanted more.

So I married a man with whom I share not only my life, but sunsets and laughter and a big blended family that has grown to include nine of the world’s finest grandchildren.

The past two years—with the pandemic and its horrendous loss of life and jobs and joy, its social distancing and so many things we’ve missed—have been hard for all of us. Much harder for some than for others.

I won’t forget that. But in some ways, I’ll remember it as one of the best times of my life.

It has slowed me down and made me more thankful and mindful of what matters most.

And it has been such a gift to see friends and loved ones and others, near and far, rise up and make the best of it.

Just when it seems we’ve seen it all, life gets harder and we discover we are stronger than we ever dreamed we could be.

Here’s to the past and all it has taught us, and to making today, come what may, the best time of our lives…until tomorrow.

Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or sharonrandall.com.

Comments

Business

Umami Downtown aims to bring bold flavors to Main Street

Education

RSS Board of Education discusses latest draft of school justice partnership

China Grove

Touting experience, Don Bringle looks to retain seat on China Grove Town Council

Crime

Jury selection begins in trial of man charged with killing father

High School

High school football: Freeman a surprise weapon for Hornets

News

North Carolina’s $25 reward helped boost COVID vaccinations

BREAKING NEWS

RSS makes masks optional, plans to revisit decision in November

Elections

Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly GOP host U.S. Senate forum in Gold Hill for registered Republicans only

Crime

Juvenile shot Saturday expected to make full recovery

Crime

Blotter: Homeless man jailed after throwing rocks through woman’s front door

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan County elections supervisor speaks out after debate to replace him

Crime

Blotter: Kannapolis man charged with involuntary manslaughter

Ask Us

Ask Us: What are current enrollment numbers for Rowan-Salisbury Schools?

News

Airplane makes emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham Airport

News

Race-blind redistricting? Democrats incredulous at GOP maps

Local

‘Stories behind these squares’: Town of Cleveland unveils country’s barn quilt mural, trail

Local

Mayoral candidates Alexander, Heggins discuss ‘Fame,’ protesting, pandemic

Education

Supporters of former Knox assistant principal speak up after resignation

Local

Volunteers focus on South Ellis Street for 11th annual BlockWork program

Education

Accounting firm to present annual school district audit report Monday

Lifestyle

Rowan Rockhounds Composite Youth Mountain Bike Team meetings set

Faith

Faith briefs: Barbecue fundraiser, harvest festival set for Nov. 6

Business

A hidden gem on Highway 29, Fusion Salon celebrates more than 15 years in business

Education

Walser honored by Smart Start Rowan