Kesley Colbert
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I have to open my own Cokes now 

I thought this writing business for me was over forever… and then Pam Collins died. 

I don’t remember life without Pam. We were born nine days apart in 1947. She was telling me what to do when we were stacking those wooden blocks on top of each other in the nursery of the First Baptist Church. When we discovered Miss Katie celebrated with cake and ice cream if it was someone’s birthday in kindergarten, Pam quickly “conjured up” extra birthdays for each one of us during the year. 

We were the fattest class Miss Katie ever had. 

In elementary school, they seated us alphabetically. That put Pam right behind me. I got an earful of whatever she was thinking for six years running! She would sit uncomfortably close to me at the Park Theatre during the Saturday afternoon westerns. In junior high, she got in her head I ought to be dating her cousin, Charlotte Melton. She could be relentless!

High school separated us often into different classes, but she’d give me tips, warnings, and advice during homeroom, at lunch, and when we passed in the halls. We shared hopes and dreams about everything and nothing on those rock-hard park benches up on the square. 

She would call weeks in advance when we had a class reunion. She was determined that I would make the 500-mile trip back “to see everybody.” On many such occasions, she would designate me as the reunion speaker. 

We never dated one time. I never held her hand or kissed her. I don’t believe I hugged her neck till about our 25th-year class gathering. But make no mistake here, she was one of the best all-time girlfriends I ever had!

Her passing is a loss of unimaginable magnitude in my little world. 

People have been telling me for years that the worst part of growing old is the mental and physical slowdown. And, at 77, I understand exactly what they are saying. I don’t think as quickly as I used to. I can remember the face, but the name escapes me more often than it once did. I walk into a room and find myself wondering “Exactly why did I come in here?” 

I’m halfway through a movie before I realize I’ve seen this one before. I catch myself wondering if I am repeating a story…. 

The health industry does its best in a barrage of age-related commercials to alert us of our dire circumstances. As if we needed a reminder that all “might not be like it used to be” as we inevitably race toward those golden years. 

Good golly, money-seeking entrepreneurs are building homes just for us!

Recent events have made me look at this aging process in a bit of a different light. Sure, it’s tough not to function quite as sharply or as youthfully as we once did. But I’m not so sure anymore that that is our “worst dilemma” as the years pile up on us.

Pam is only the last in an ever-growing line for me. I still miss Buddy Wiggleton and he has been gone for several years. I want to call him when I think of something funny….

Gene Hale’s death hit me hard. And he wasn’t in our class. But his little brother Ricky was. My heart broke for Rick the minute I heard the news. Gene was a lifeguard at the swimming pool when I first started working there. How I looked up to him! And he always took the time to treat me like a real person. You’d be surprised how many older guys didn’t do that when I was coming along. 

Phil Chandler, Eddie Carden, and Iris Brashear were actually in the class ahead of me. Phil and Eddie played in a lot of our sandlot baseball games. And I remember Iris wearing her head majorette uniform and marching along with a smile as big as all outdoors. 

Graylene Lemonds left a great memory of us riding in the back of a pickup truck to the County Fair in Huntingdon. Reggie Lawrence, like so many of my departed friends, just seemed to be everywhere I was when we were growing up. I’ve told you before how Jane Hill would open those Coca-Cola bottles with her teeth. She, Pam, and the others were easy to love as we steamed full speed ahead into life. 

I think you’re catching my drift here. It can be disconcerting in so many ways to lose some of your faculties as you age. But you at least understand the process. You may not be prepared for it, but it comes with some degree of comprehension. 

The real “tough part of aging” is the gigantic hole in your heart from losing those people who you have never lived a minute of your life without!

Thank goodness we’ve got that old line from a Hank Williams’ song to hang on to, “Memory is one gift from God that death cannot destroy.” 



Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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