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Finding Family in Wilson County

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By AMELIA MORRISON HIPPSAmelia Morrison Hipps - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Jim Hipps dancing with Amelia’s mother, Claudette Morrison on Amelia and Jim’s wedding day.Jim Hipps dancing with Amelia’s mother, Claudette Morrison on Amelia and Jim’s wedding day.When Becky and Angel asked me in December to write this column for Wilson Living Magazine, I had a much different idea in mind, but much has changed in my life since then.

However, as I’ve learned over the past year, there’s probably a very good reason that my initial idea never made it to ink on paper. I may not yet know what that reason is, but I’ve learned to trust even more fully that Someone greater than me does.

My move to Lebanon from Statesboro, Ga., in May 2006 was an answer to many prayers. Things were rocky at the television station in Savannah where my husband Jim worked. My father’s health was beginning to ebb, and being an only child, I needed to be closer than a six-hour drive away.

Today, as I write this, almost seven years have passed since I first arrived, and I can see God’s hand in the move even more clearly than I did then – especially during this past year – when He introduced me to the family I didn’t know I had in Wilson County.

Jim and Amelia’s four-legged children: Sir Robert Redbone, John Coal, Onyx Jasmine and Trixie AnneJim and Amelia’s four-legged children: Sir Robert Redbone, John Coal, Onyx Jasmine and Trixie Anne.A year ago in January, I left The Lebanon Democrat, something I never dreamed would happen when I arrived. I had planned to stay there until I either retired or died at my desk.

However, in the summer of 2011, it became apparent that my Daddy’s time on earth was ending after three consecutive months of hospital visits. His heart was beginning to fail in earnest.

By the end of that year, I knew that my parents would need me by their side more often than I could be there if I stayed at the newspaper. Not because Publisher Joe Adams would not be as accommodating as he could be, but because the demands of today’s newspaper industry would not allow the amount of time away I would need.

So, to give me the flexibility I needed, Jim and I started Capitol Newswatch, LLC, a news service providing coverage of the Tennessee General Assembly to rural, community-based newspapers throughout the state.

Amelia’s beloved dad, CottonAmelia’s beloved dad, CottonWe knew, going in, that money would be tight, that wants would be put on the back burner, but we had faith that God would supply our needs.

Jim, who is officially retired, has three part-time jobs, so that helped meet our needs. He works as a crossing guard at Tuckers Crossroads Elementary School, as a drug test administrator and as a counselor for the Anger Management and Domestic Violence classes at the Wilson County Probation Office. He’s also an author with a new novel, “Tenacious Bulldogs,” and is writing the second one in the trilogy.

Throughout 2012, God always fulfilled our needs. When the General Assembly session ended, doors opened that allowed me to manage a couple of local political races. And in many ways, I learned more during that short time about who my true friends are than throughout my years at the paper. Politics not only makes strange bedfellows, but sometimes it also weeds out the chaff from the grain!

Today, while Capitol Newswatch is undergoing some changes, opportunities for freelance work continue to come my way – even if it takes a little more digging on my part – and our needs continue to be met.

By now, you’re probably wondering, “What does all this have to do with finding a ‘Piece of the Good Life’ in Wilson County?” It has to do with the people of Wilson County, and the friends we’ve made and those who have become members of the family we didn’t know we had.

In January, the knowledge that we have family here became as clear as the ice Jim slipped on that month. Within a five-day period, Jim broke his shoulder and upper arm and my Daddy died. It was during this time, our friends in Wilson County became living testimonies to the following words of an anonymous author: “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and love you no matter.”

Jim and Amelia on their wedding dayJim and Amelia on their wedding dayThere is no way I could ever list in this space the names of everyone who called to offer help, who said prayers of support, or who sent cards or flowers. But to each of you, I say, “Thank you, and we love you. You lifted us up when we were down, and for that, words of gratitude are inadequate.”

But a special thanks goes out to four people who have become like the sisters and brothers that Jim and I, who are both only children, never had. All four of them have lost their fathers; a couple both parents, so they knew first-hand the pain I was in when Daddy died.

Jeannie Mitzenberg is the sister I never had, who whenever we had to go to Chickamauga, would come by and check on our four, four-legged children; who came without question late at night when Daddy died to hold me and let me cry, who helped us get packed and not forget the necessities; and who came every day, despite being in physical pain herself, to give one of our dogs his medicine and collect our mail.

Former Sheriff Terry Ashe is the big brother I never had. He calls regularly just to check on Jim and me, and asks what he can do to help – even if it’s something as simple as hauling off the trash.

Pete Mecher has become like a younger brother to Jim. Despite having slipped on the ice the same day Jim did and breaking his ankle in two places which required surgery, he regularly calls or texts Jim to check on us, and makes my husband laugh with his jokes or stories.

And Marie Corhern is my little sister. She called within minutes of learning that Daddy had died and made me laugh when I needed it through her text messages.

When I arrived in Wilson County in May 2006, it was an answer to many prayers regarding employment and being closer to my parents. Today, God has enriched our lives with these individuals and the others too numerous to mention, each of whom are now members of the family we didn’t know we had, and are our “Piece of the Good Life” in Wilson County.

Amelia Morrison Hipps is a freelance writer, editor and publication designer who lives on Trousdale Ferry Pike with her husband and four dogs.
Wilson Living Magazine is proud to now have Amelia as a Wilson Living contributor. Look for her work in future issues.

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