Oct. 1, 1995, is such a day for the Conkey family. On that date 18 years ago we officially moved into the Eagle Watch community in Towne Lake. Joan and I had just returned from Toronto, Ontario, where we had just completed our church service mission and had just sold our home in the Druid Hills community in Atlanta.
Oct. 6 of each year is always a positive reminder of just how great our medical and drug communities are in extending the life of individuals. I live today because of those two powerful communities.
It was on Oct. 6, 1983, 30 years ago next Tuesday that my first of two open-heart surgeries was performed at the Emory University Hospital; it was Oct. 6, 1996, 13 years later that my second open-heart surgery was performed at the St. Joseph Hospital in Atlanta — ironically by the same surgeon but in two different hospitals.
Another memorable October event occurred in mid-October 1998, the year and month the Cherokee Tribune went from a two days per week publication to its current five days per week publication schedule, the year that then Cherokee Tribune editor Barbara Jacoby invited me to begin writing a local community op/ed column, my Observations column for the paper. That was over 750 columns ago. A wonderful 15-year journey.
Each of these October events has meaning to me individually, and to our family. We were warmly welcomed into the Eagle Watch community in 1995 soon after becoming involved in the Eagle Watch Home Owners Association. This community association, as editor of the HOA newsletter, led to my 15-year association with the Cherokee Tribune as an op/ed contributor, and this association led to being named to the county grand jury and to being named a member of the Cherokee County Library Board.
It also led to Joan becoming a charter member of the community book club, a membership she cherishes, which, ironically led to other associations, such as becoming a charter member of the local Red Hat club, and to her association with the Cherokee County elections office, first as a volunteer in Linda Parker’s precinct then later as manager of her own precinct, a long association that first began in 1997.
The good people we have met in these various associations has provided for both of us powerful memories of what can happen when good people join together to improve the community in which they live, while fully enjoying the good fruits of life.
With faith such a central part of our family life, we made sure that our church was represented in the county. It was, and we were quickly assimilated into our local church community.
But it was not just our faith in the medical community, or our faith in the drug community, or our faith in the healing power of God that has allowed me to continue living; it required that I have faith in myself, faith that I could become involved in my own healing process.
I did, with the help of my wife Joan, and our family members, and continue to be involved in this continuing healing process even today. My involvement required that I learn everything about caring for my physical body.
I bought and read books on nutrition, I searched the scriptures for council on nutrition, I created challenging exercise programs for myself even when confined to a hospital bed for months and to a wheelchair for years.
Then, after all this, we combined our faith in the healing power of God with our faith in the miraculous healing power and progress of the medical and drug communities that has allowed me to continue as productive a life as possible.
This combination has worked well for me, I continue to live, against great odds (nine heart attacks with two leading to open-heart surgeries) in a community, both local and county, that we both love, a county where a family member has moved, coming to partake of the goodness of the county — and to take care of her aging, but still involved parents.
Today I gratefully use this column to thank God, the medical and drug communities, the Cherokee Tribune, and the wonderful community we call Cherokee County for the gift of continued life afforded me and my family following our arrival on Oct. 1, 1995.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.