I just can't do this old dog-eat-dog. The rats keep winning the rat race.
-- Atlanta Rhythm Section
Every now and then, if you drop a line in the sea of negativity that Albany, Georgia, is sadly becoming, you might get lucky enough to catch a fresh breath of life-confirming sweetness that diminishes somewhat the ravings of those whose goal is to rain on any planned parade before the grand marshall's even blown his whistle.
I got just such a grace note the other day in a letter from Herald reader Paulette Hembree of Sylvester.
Ms. Paulette will turn 63 in November. She's legally blind -- though she can "still see OK out of one eye" -- but she lives alone and takes care of herself. (She divorced two husbands along the way.) When she's not painting and drawing -- activities she took up only a decade or so ago -- Ms. Paulette is often out with her daughter checking out antiques. Or she's at work on the songs and poems she's been writing all her life.
"I used to write them down and then just throw them away," she said of her original works. "I just wrote them for me. I started keeping up with my songs and poems a little while ago, though. Now I've got about 30 of them saved."
A member of Christian Union Church of God in Ashburn, many of Ms. Paulette's works are religious-themed. But she loves a good country song almost as much as she does her spirituals.
"I like the old country: George Jones, Conway Twitty, Buck Owens and folks like that," she told me during a phone call. That call was a follow-up to her letter, in which she wrote to me, "I know you love songs, so check out the one I wrote called 'Regrets.' "
I was taken with Ms. Paulette's use of familiar song titles in her original work, so I asked if I could share it with Herald readers.
I was born in the country near the Georgia line.
I was raised up singing "Your Cheating Heart" and "I Walk the Line."
After some Jack Daniel's and some "Red Red Wine,"
I'll be "Behind Closed Doors" with a "Borrowed Angel" one more time.
When morning comes and I see mama,
I'll be singing "When a Man Loves a Woman."
I'll look into her big brown eyes
And promise her we'll be "Together Again" until the end of time.
Somewhere in the middle of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and "Pop a Top Again,"
I was "Almost Persuaded" to do the right thing again.
Then I heard a quiet little voice say
"Hello Darlin' " and she smiles at me.
She said I'll be your "Honky Tonk Angel" and your "Rambling Rose."
You can be my "Ramblin' Man" and no one will ever know.
It's "Crying Time" again, Mama's gone.
She "Stood by Her Man" until God called her home.
Now I'm singing "I'm Sorry," and I'm all alone.
Forgive me, darling, I done you wrong.
Now that I'm older and my hair is gray.
I'm singing "Go Rest on the Mountain" and "I Saw God Today."
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.
I'll ride that "Big Black Train" to my home in the sky, and I'll finish singing "In the Sweet By 'n' By."
Ms. Paulette also shared her poem "Yesterday's Memories," but I'm going to selfishly keep that one for myself. In the meantime, somebody get in touch with Ole Possum ... he could be missing out on his next big hit.