I am thankful that Arlin “Peanut” Smith picked me to play on his baseball team several years in a row despite the fact that I had absolutely zero talent to work with. I guess he did it because he grew up with my daddy, but I am still thankful.
I am thankful that my daughter Lindsey has never let the fact I was never in her life like I should have been as an excuse to get in trouble. She is two classes away from graduating from Reinhardt and works full time. She has basically done this on her own.
I am thankful that Sheriff Roger Garrison pushed me to go to school and get my education when I had done very little on my own in pursuing higher education. Because of this I now have a graduate degree. He then pushed me to go to the FBI National Academy as I slightly resisted. Those three months became three of the best in my life.
I am thankful to Jerry Cooper for giving me a chance to broaden my career path when there were others he could have chosen. He took a chance on me knowing that professionally I am wound a little tightly.
I am thankful that Mama took me to school every morning because I was too lazy to get up and ride the bus. She shouldn’t have but she did it anyway.
I am thankful for my friends from childhood, Alan Johnson, Brian Groves, and Lance Saxon. I guess the fact that our dads were friends played a major factor in it.
But nevertheless, I was always treated like family and spent many hours in their homes. Even though I don’t see them much anymore, the memories I have of those times can’t be taken away.
I am thankful that while at North Canton Elementary, an African-American student named Clarence Durham chose to be my good friend. His friendship was close and showed me that there was no reason for racism other than ignorance. His friendship will go down in the chronicles of my life as one of the most important.
I am thankful to Ronnie Smith for paddling me and not expelling me in high school for fighting. Oh, it hurt and it hurt badly. But it didn’t follow me for the rest of my life. I am also thankful that Mrs. Moss and Mrs. Dobson didn’t seem to get any enjoyment out of witnessing the weekly paddlings.
I am thankful that Daddy tried to introduce me to his passions of fishing and hunting even though I showed no interest or gratitude to him for trying. It must have been frustrating for him but he just let it go.
I am thankful to Pat Garrison for not calling my parents when I showed up at their house one night sick from drinking too much. Although she did run the loudest vacuum cleaner on the planet all around me to make the sickness worse, she didn’t tell. Who else vacuums at midnight?
I am thankful for Kathy Johnson who has always been there when needed for the friends of her children. There has to be a special place in heaven for people like her. But I want to follow that up by saying I hope she doesn’t go to that special place for many years to come.
I am thankful that my parents didn’t disown me throughout the years for the embarrassment I’ve caused them. Lesser parents no doubt would have at least considered disowning me. But they never did. I am a living testament that parents will love their children no matter how bad they are.
Most importantly, I thank the Good Lord above for reaching down from heaven and saving me when I was just a boy. More times than not, I have not lived the life He would like me to lead. Yet every time I need Him, He answers.
You know we can’t go back and undo all the wrongs we do in our lives.
We can only go forward. So to borrow the title of a song by Tim McGraw, I want to be “Better Than I Used To Be.” Happy Thanksgiving!
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.