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Rattlesnakes of hope

Sometimes hope reaches up and grabs you in the strangest of places.

And when you realize it, all you can do is smile through the tears.

For me, it happened last Saturday night as I stood at the top of an escalator in Atlanta's airport waiting for my wife to step off a plane from Baltimore. I was 30 minutes or so early (I know, I was shocked too), which gave me plenty of time to people watch.

There was the couple next to me, speaking to each other in broken English. The wife cuddled a small baby, and a young girl sat there anxiously as they watched the planeloads of people pass by. Finally, the woman yelled, "MaMa!," and an older woman turned quickly. They hugged and kissed each others' face. The older woman, beaming with pride, bent down to look at the baby, stroking his face and dabbing the tears from her eyes.

A few minutes later, a little girl with ringlet hair screamed "DADDEEEEEEE!!!" as soon as she saw him step off the escalator. She bounced toward him with her mom and brother in tow. And her dad did what any dad would do in that situation: he gave his whole family a tear-filled hug.

And then there were the soldiers in their fatigues walking through the throngs of people - standing out in their camouflaged attire.

People will always tell you not to sweat the small stuff. I say, hogwash. It's the small stuff that makes life beautiful.

Take, for example, my memories of the Three Dollar Cafe in Buckhead. It's a block down from The Cheesecake Factory - where Miriam and I dined Sunday afternoon - and has long been one of my favorite spots to stop in Atlanta for great buffalo shrimp, perfect cold beverages and awesome live music.

Sunday afternoon, it was dark and quiet - obviously shuttered for quite a while. The front patio, picnic tables and makeshift stage were gone - as were the other distractions, like pool tables and video games. They had been replaced by weeds and a For Lease sign.

But the memories can't be leased. And I'll smile whenever I pass by.

The folks at The Mirror spend most of our time covering the news, not making it. Monday, that almost changed, thanks to a slithering sucker in front of our office.

Camellia City Lions Club Member Melba Watkins was heading into our new offices on Railroad Street to try to sell a few pancake supper tickets, but she never made it in. Laying at the front door, basking in the sun was a rattlesnake - three feet long and dragging nine rattles.

Ms. Watkins recruited a few folks for the battle, including Charles Johnson and intrepid McDuffie Mirror Staff Writer Kristopher Wells, who was armed with a broom. They cornered the snake under the newspaper box, and he was finally felled by a shovel wielded by a gentleman from Ivery's.

Thanks to everyone who helped solve our "problem." Now if I could just keep it out of the paper.

Web posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006

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