Writing a high school sports column that spans parts of five decades has its rewards, not the least of which has been the incredible bonding between this columnist and local coaches.
This became unmistakably evident when 14 coaches took time off their demanding schedules to visit me at Piedmont Medical Center and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital during the time I was recovering from a May 1 stroke.
When I include coaches who called me and signed get-well cards, the number climbs to 22. I won't mention them by name. They know who they are and I cherish my friendship with each and every one of them.
In addition to the genuine response from the coaches, the York Parks and Recreation staff signed a get-well card, each with a personal note.
Never miss a local story.
Relying on God, church, family and friends as an undeniable source of strength, my recovery is nearing 100 percent.
What a wonderful feeling I had the first time I watched my grandson, Jonathan, play Dixie Minors baseball and granddaughter, Kayla, play girls' softball this summer.
My son, Rusty, helps coach both teams. Way to go, Rusty.
My first interview since late April was with York Comprehensive High School basketball coach Paula Blackwell last week.
It feels good to get back to doing what I do.
The outpouring of affection from this community has been remarkable. So many people have said my name was on their prayer lists at church, including Abiding Presence Lutheran of which I am a charter member.
I began this column talking about the bonding experience. Let me tell you something about family bonding and faith by the grace of God.
My sister, Mabel Rhyne, died Thursday morning, June 26 at the Lutheran Home in Salisbury, N.C., after extended illness and suffering. Her son, Michael, died June 26, 2005 at the Lutheran Home, a victim of MS. Mabel's husband, the Rev. Alfred D. Rhyne, a prominent Lutheran minister in North Carolina, was buried on Michael's birthday in 2005.
I miss my sister dearly, having returned to York Monday. I also know that Mabel and Alfred's powerful bond with Michael extends beyond the grave to their Heavenly reward.
My bond with the coaches is pretty incredible, too. I feel blessed.