But one thing is for sure. I have had influences from columnists who have written things that have touched me deeply. And if their writings touched me, they certainly have touched others.
So I want to talk about three columnists who have inspired me to think about the simple things in life and why they are so important.
For many years, I was —along with many, many people — a huge fan of Mr. Lewis Grizzard. If there is anything published that he ever wrote that I haven’t read, I don’t know about it.
I believe I have read every book and every column he ever wrote. Lewis Grizzard had a way of telling a story that would make you laugh hysterically. He also had the power in his words to make grown men cry.
His power with words came from the topics he wrote about. He wrote about his mama and his daddy many times. He wrote about the South.
He wrote about his beloved dog Catfish. He wrote about his heartbreak when Catfish died. And, many times, he wrote about his favorite team, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Now, although I am a solid Georgia Tech fan, I enjoyed all of the writings of Mr. Grizzard. It was impossible to not respect his loyalty to his team. And I doubt the Georgia Bulldogs ever had a greater fan.
When Lewis Grizzard died, he was younger than I am now. My parents actually have a framed poster of Catfish meeting Lewis at the Pearly Gates. His death bothered me. He had so much to say and so little time to say it. I somehow knew there would never be another like him.
In all of his writings, some things were made very clear. He loved God. He loved his mama and daddy. He loved his dog Catfish. And he loved his Georgia Bulldogs.
But most importantly, he loved them all in the simplest way. He didn’t make it complicated.
The Cherokee Tribune has two columnists who have also been an inspiration to me, for they write with the same simplistic love as did Mr. Grizzard.
Marguerite Cline and Rebecca Johnston also have a way with words that bring back memories of Cherokee County being a simpler time and place.
Whether it’s Mrs. Johnston writing about the beauty of her mother’s handwriting or Mrs. Cline’s ability to make us laugh when simply telling us of events in the lives of her children and grandchildren, they have a gift and are willing to share it.
Both of these ladies have led and do lead good lives. They have touched the lives of many not only through their writings, but also through the many charitable works that both continually do to make Cherokee County a better place.
I would never compare myself to either of them. They are pretty much everything I’m not.
So how did I get here? I got here only because Mrs. Johnston gave me an opportunity. And why do I do it? I only write these columns to thank the many people in Cherokee County for their contributions to my life as well as the community.
It’s easier for me to do here than in person. I’ve lost that trait somewhere along the way.
You see, I have this thought that one day I will be stricken with the same disease my daddy’s got. Maybe I won’t. And maybe I will. Only God knows.
But I don’t ever want my daughter, Lindsey, to have to wonder what was important in my life. I don’t want her to speculate as to how I feel about certain things. So if I do receive the same fate as Daddy has, she can at least read the things I have written and get a pretty good idea of what was in her daddy’s heart. That is why I do this.
I met a man on the street a few weeks ago that I did not know. He asked me if I was Chris Collett. I told him yes.
He said, “I just wanted to tell you that I enjoy reading your columns, but you’re no Lewis Grizzard.” Well, no kidding, I thought to myself.
But that won’t stop me from writing about the people that touched my life. Because it’s the people that make Cherokee County worth writing about.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.