Happy New Year, y’all!
I recently read a biography of Humphrey Bogart, who has always been one of my favorite actors. I don’t know what made him appeal to so many people, but he did. In real life, he was charismatic as a tough guy with a funny sense of humor and a magnetic personality. "Casablanca" is one of my favorite movies. Bogart is the bad guy/hero who is as clearly defined as a person with integrity and conscience. These attributes might serve each of us well as we go into 2013.
This is a new year and I was thinking of things that one does at the beginning of a year. Last year was a hard year for my family. What should I do for this New Year? Should I set goals, resolutions? What do I want to accomplish? I certainly don't want to set myself up for failure with that old weight-loss goal again. Give up sugar? Yeah, you bet! Then I remembered the epitaph John Huston gave at Bogart’s funeral:
“He was endowed with the greatest gift a person can have: talent. The whole world came to recognize it.”
Certainly the whole world would agree that Bogart had talent. I don’t know, though, that the entire world has to recognize your talent. I think it is important that you recognize your special gifts. Give yourself a moment of introspection. What is your talent?
Some people have the kind of creativity that shines blatantly through every thing they do. No one can deny the talents of Snellville’s John Duke. He is an amazing artist. His work is on display at Cobblestone Gallery. Wayne Briscoe sings beautifully and can play almost any musical instrument.. Diana Digarmo certainly has talent and makes the most of her musical abilities. Kelly Coughlin, now a chef with a to-die-for lasagna recipe also has a lovely voice and wins many contests.
Nancy Snell and Lynda Royal, too, have beautiful voices. When Lynda, her mother and sister sang “Precious Memories,” I broke down. That was Daddy’s favorite song. Nancy sang “Amazing Grace” at Aunt Grace Snell’s funeral. (Aunt Grace was Nancy’s mother-in-law.) The clarity and sweetness of her voice wove through that church. Many of the most stoic were moved to tears at that moment.
Saralyn Kimsey taught art at South Gwinnett High School. She had great talent in art, of course, but her encouraging, supportive personality also had great impact on a lot of kids. It didn’t matter if they drew well or were color blind; they gained self-respect by being in the classes with this woman.
Chesta Drake (formerly Betts) taught Language Arts and was a Counselor at South Gwinnett High School. She touched so many lives. She came to my brother-in-law’s funeral and was swamped with former students who remembered her great humor and her respect for students. Mike Waters, who is a delightfully funny man and a true artist at remodeling houses, told me that Chesta was never flustered in class. Whatever happened, happened, and she just loved you and kept on going. Chesta is now exercising another talent as a stand up comedian.
Edwin Snell and Thomas Briscoe didn’t build bridges by themselves. They had a talent for finding the people who could do the best job. Thomas Briscoe had insight into the future. He helped bring industry to Gwinnett County.
But there are other talents that should be recognized. Penny Foote and Peggy Todd are extraordinary teachers of special needs students. Peggy helped to develop and organize the special needs Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible School programs at the Snellville Baptist Church. Penny Foote was named Teacher of the Year at South Gwinnett High School many times. She certainly was innovative, and she helped my son to recognize and develop his interests and gifts to become the unique individual that he is today.
How about the talents of John Sawyer, Jack Britt, Bobbie Johnson, Hugh Buchanan, Roy Massey, Bob Warman, Jean Swinney, Jean Richardson, to name just a few of the coaches from this area. You may have been able to throw a baseball at 90 miles an hour or catch a football instinctively, but these men and women, and other mentors like them, not only helped you hone that innate talent, they helped you to develop in other areas such as sportsmanship, teamwork, etc., to become the man or woman that you are.
Phillip DeMore was a pastor at Snellville Methodist Church for years. He could deliver a sermon that moved you. He found the talents of others and encouraged them to grow and display proudly that uniqueness.
Drs. Bill Connolly, Nancy Churchill, Kathryn Padgett, and the others on staff, including Uncle Herman, at Gwinnett Animal Hospital all have talents that have touched so many of us. They are vets that we trust with the lives of our family members. Certainly every pet I have had was a loved family member.
How about the nurse that knew just how to give your child that shot so it wouldn’t hurt so much? Think about the pediatrician that calmed you down when your baby was sick and made him all well? Dr. Deganian’s staff knew my voice over the phone. I never had to identify myself. ( That isn’t really a good thing, you know. But their response to it certainly was.)
Think of that dear school bus driver who took your child to the first day of school, settling him or her into the seat and saying, “Wave bye to Mama. Tell her, 'I’ll be OK. I’ll be home soon.'” It really helped, didn’t it? Bless Ann Gresham, who got our James through it all. And consider the teachers who took your children into their classrooms on the first day of school and made them feel comfortable and welcome. How about all those teachers who taught you to read, do math, draw a tree, work out a problem in your life? Those talented people in your life encouraged you to become the person you are.
What is your talent? Do you listen well to people and help them problem solve? Can you put a puzzle together, giving order not only to the pieces of a game, but also to the confused pieces of your life or someone else’s? Do you routinely share a smile that makes another person smile back? Do you compliment someone, just so they will feel a bit special on a gloomy, trying day? Isn’t that a talent?
Talent is what you make it. See visions in the clouds, because those visions are your talents. Each person has a talent. It doesn’t have to shout, "Here is what I do." It can whisper, “Here I am. Let me lend a hand. Let me be a sounding board. Here is a shoulder for you to cry on.”
So I set myself a goal. Not to lose weight, not to clean the house, but to recognize and acknowledge my talents and to help others find theirs. We are each endowed with the greatest gift a person can have: talent.