We all have done things, or have failed to do things, that we wind up regretting. Oftentimes we make rash decisions that we ultimately wish we’d reconsidered more carefully.
Thanks to some sweet former neighbors of ours — Guy and Judy Gardner — they successfully applied for, and dedicated, a 2 mile stretch of our roadway to the Adopt-a-Highway program almost two decades ago.
If you’re unfamiliar with the statewide program the DOT incepted in 1998, it was established after the general public voiced concern over dangerous debris and trash accumulating along our roadways. According to its website, the litter campaign has saved taxpayers millions of dollars annually in cleanup expenses since its establishment.
For years, the Gardners selflessly spearheaded our local mission and in doing so, paid homage to my Daddy who had passed away in 2001. Two DOT signs in his memory were proudly displayed at both corridors to our road. Years later, when the Gardners announced their plans to relocate, another friendly couple stepped in to take the helm.
Charlie and Snooks Campbell immediately volunteered to continue its progress, watching over the cleanup efforts in our neighborhood. After Snooks passed away and Charlie was selling the residence, the fate of our Adopt-a-Highway mission was hanging in the balance. Charlie reached out to recurring participants and local residents, offering all of us the opportunity to maintain its efforts.
Unfortunately, it was a hectic time in our lives. You know how life happens and “busyness” settles in. In retrospect, that shouldn’t be an excuse.
With our kids involved in church activities, school functions, challenge sports, travel ball teams, dance, guitar, violin, piano — you name it — we were never home. Adding to our complicated schedules, our full-time jobs would keep us away 10 hours a day, my husband running his own business, always on call, coupled with my covering evening board meetings and emergency situations, and providing weekend and holiday coverage for certain events. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe our complex calendar of events.
I always felt remorse for not being able, or willing, to take over the reigns of that roadside campaign. For years, that feeling of contrition resonated each time we’d pass another stretch of highway devoted to the program. Oftentimes I’d have to look away, or lower my head in shame, in penitence for what I considered was letting my Daddy down. The first time we reached the rural road where the signs had been dismantled, I secretly wept.
Trying to make amends, I made a vow that one day we’d reapply for, and reinstate, our local cleanup. One day, I kept thinking, we’d have that sign in memory of my Daddy implemented once again.
Just this past week, that fateful mantra became a little closer to fruition. DOT officials responded to my fervent request, sending me the greatly anticipated application packet.
Just this past week — after reaching out to many of our neighbors — our quest for reestablishment has inched its way closer. All of the sweet residents have not only pledged their support, but they’ve courageously volunteered to take part in keeping our roadside cleaner.
Thankfully, that “one day” is almost here.
You could say this isn’t as much a highway dedication as it is heading on to that road to reconciliation.
Kim Lambert is a former reporter with The Daily Record and former editor of The Angier Independent.