The Farewell Party was the best party ever. My friends laid out a collage of Monuments under glass. There was a buffet table laden with lots of fantastic food they had cooked themselves, from soup to pasta and shrimp salad to meatballs, fruit, cheesecake and brownies. And more. People wrote their sentiments in a handmade book Jeanne created. Music was playing and two coffee urns percolated.
By 1:30 people were wandering in. I said hello and lots of hugs and soon people helped themselves at the buffet and we all sat down. Animated happy conversation for the next hour. People said nice things to me in clusters of knots of groups.
At 2:30 Alex played a song on his guitar and then came the remarks which were extremely nice. People got up to the microphone and talked. 'You have integrity. 'You were fair and honest. 'You were always there to help. 'You inspired us. 'You changed the town.' I was astounded and overwhelmed sitting still as a rock in front of all those people not knowing what to make of it. I hope I looked appropriately appreciative...mostly I was shocked.
Then they presented me with gifts, an engraved jewelry box, a cross pen, Tuscan CD, southern style napkins, 2 dozen roses. Then I spoke, saying a few words and thanking them.
I can't express how wonderful the day was. That so many people worked so hard to put on a farewell party for me was such a tremendous gift, and something I'll never forget. But the greatest gift of all is that people said they now feel empowered, able and willing to speak up, and know how and where to get the information they need. That's the best, and was the whole point of us starting The Monument. I am truly grateful for the so very many people who helped with The Monument ... it really was a labor of love to bring a good newspaper into the world and help it grow, and with it, a community grew, too.
Gray is filled with so many wonderful people, we truly are a community of givers and great good souls. I'm the one who feels lucky to have been here.