Roy Exum: New Year’s Eve, 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I found myself wondering what if it had been the other way around yesterday. It certainly could have, you know. And the answer that I found to my self-imposed question gave me a pre-dawn glow as I smiled and turned the newspaper page early Monday morning.

You’ll remember that Robin Roberts, the popular co-host of “Good Morning America,” was blanketed with the prayers of a Christian nation in August when it was revealed she had MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease, and ever since millions of us have followed her stem-cell recovery closely in the hopes the treatments will work.

But Sunday, as we giggled over her early success at the 100-day mark and triumphed over the fact her doctors have allowed her dog to be reunited with her, Robin very properly and I might add very gracefully gave thanks to those who have helped her the most. "I am grateful for my entire family, my longtime girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together," she wrote on her Facebook page.

Yes, you read that right … Amber Laign, a massage therapist in the San Francisco Bay area, and Robin have been together for over ten years in a same-sex relationship. Robin also wrote, "Flashback 12/29/12....Hard to believe this was 1 year ago today ... when I reached a critical milestone of 100 days post transplant ...

“Reading this comforts me and I hope the same for you: 'If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present,'" she continued. "At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude."

* * *

The first thing I want to do on this last day of the year is to say how proud I am that, so help me, I cannot think of one person on my list of assorted friends who would dare ask that I take back a handful of personal prayers I have petitioned on behalf of Robin Roberts. I had no idea she was gay, or that she would “come out” on such a monumental day for a stem-cell recipient

But as I read my newspaper and sipped my coffee in the morning cold, I was stuck by the silent thought: What if we had known? I’m not exactly the Duck Commander when it comes to matters such as this but I suspect the public’s sympathy for an accomplished and poised television announcer might not have been quite what it was in August.

That is why, as a New Year arrives tonight, our resolution should be that we’ll continue to search for ways that all of us can walk this road of life together, holding hands with those who may be different from others when the way gets rocky and steep. As long as we will care about one another, we will always have a chance. And, by golly, I’m glad that dog who loves Robin finally got to come home on Sunday, too.

THE HEADLINE OF THE YEAR was on the front page of Monday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press. It read “Desjarlais: Look at my record, not my past.”

NINE-YEAR-OLD JOSHUA WADE underwent a simple endoscopy procedure at a Children’s Hospital in Colorado last week and everything went fine. Seems the little guy has reflux problems and a gluten-free diet will help. But as Joshua was being sedated for the procedure, his snuffed animal, “Wolfie” fell from his arms and Dr. Christine Hurtado noticed the well-worn comfort toy had a bad tear on a shoulder seam. When Josh came out of anesthesia, “Wolfie” was wearing a surgical mask, gloves on each hand, a bandage where a nimble-fingered surgeon had sewn the tear together, and a Band-Aid covering Wolfie’s IV site. Joshua is reporting “Wolfie” is “all better.”

VANDERBILT’S CODY STOTHERS has just been told he will receive a full scholarship to the prestigious medical school, which is pretty good for a baby who was born in an Arkansas prison and raised by a disabled grandmother. “We brought him home from prison on Christmas Eve,” his grandmother told reporters when the marvelous story was learned. It gets better: Two Vanderbilt professors, husband and wife Billy and Julie Hudson, started a program called Aspirnaut some years ago to help gifted kids in rural areas. The brainy Stothers, from tiny Sheridan, Ark., was asked to help younger kids work with a computer installed on a bus by Aspirnaut and now he will be a medical student taught by the Hudsons!

REMINDER OF THE YEAR: For years New Year’s Ever has been unofficially recognized throughout the world as “Amateur Night.” If you don’t need to be out, it is the one night of the year best spent at home. Local and state law enforcement officials will be out in abundance and, if you think a taxi is expensive, you haven’t paid attention to the check-in rates at area hoosegows.

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne.


On Old long syne my Jo,
On Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On Old long syne.

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