A front-page story in last week’s Progress-Argus made me cry. Yes. There is great sadness in the world: violence, illogical anger and hatred. But this time I was crying tears of joy.

Some might say I am sentimental, and I will not argue. Sentimentality is a luxury that I cherish. I have not yet hardened my heart into cynicism and negativity. I still feel events and words with all of my body. Chills and tears mean I am experiencing life. I can be a stoic when necessary, but why not give in to moments of passion and joy?

Moreover, this time my tears came from my head, as well as my emotions.

I read the front-page story about Ameris Bank donating $25,000 to WellStar Sylvan Grove Hospital, and I cried. It was not, “Oh, isn’t that sweet!” It is not so unusual that a local business supports projects with which I am involved: United Bank helped sponsor the Fine Arts Festival this past weekend. Jones Petroleum and Central Georgia EMC support the Summer Reading Program at the Library. I could list more and more. I am glad that local businesses believe that plowing some of their profits back into the community is good business.

And I will admit that a few of my tears were tears of relief that Ameris appears to want to be a partner in the work of building a better Jackson and Butts County.

But I didn’t have to analyze my feelings or make lists to know immediately the main reason for my tears. Well, the two main reasons: Gratitude and history.

First, I was crying because I am thankful for Sylvan Grove Hospital, and I believe in it. The institution and the people working on its behalf have served me well. When pneumonia knocked me senseless, two nights at Sylvan Grove with clean sheets, fluids and soft-voiced nurses restored me to my energetic self.

Once, I fell down my own stairs and broke my leg in six places. One of our hospital’s best services is its emergency care and triage mandate. The systems are in place for stabilizing and sending people for more specific care if needed. I was lucky on that unlucky Sunday morning that a recent intern in orthopedics was the weekend doctor on duty. He examined my leg, gave me a shot, and then while calm workers cheerfully held me down, he pulled broken bones back into place. Everyone ignored my screams. The doctor may have given me another shot, because I remember very little of the ambulance ride to a prominent Atlanta surgeon’s hospital, nor the surgery that followed.

Lately, in my old age, I am enamored of Sylvan Grove’s rehabilitation center and the staff there. I have devoted full columns to that skilled and knowledgeable staff and how they managed to turn a puny weakling with a useless arm into a gardener and housekeeper again.

I admire the volunteers (the former Hospital Auxiliary). I have raised my voice at the Love Light Tree and attended luncheons and bought cookbooks. I will attend their Sparkle and Shine Gala on June 1, to help raise money for their worthy projects.

I am thankful for the unique historic, natural name: Sylvan Grove. I love the big oaks, the landscaping, the very pictures on the wall. Sylvan Grove is not just a convenient place to have blood tests or x-rays, it is a warm place. And even adding WellStar doesn’t destroy the beauty of the name: WellStar Sylvan Grove.

My second reason for crying was that all of a sudden I saw the fingers and the threads that over the years have woven us all together. I saw the hospital of today carrying on the work of the past. I saw a ladder that connected legislators from across the United States to write and pass the Hill-Burton Act that funded rural hospitals. I saw the leaders of Jackson in 1960, who worked to get the hospital here, who planned a referendum to match one-third of the federal grant. I was aware that the community supported the referendum. I saw the directors and early doctors. The faces made me smile.

The names are a list of Jackson’s everyday heroes, each doing his or her little part: Anna Dawn Edwards gave the land for the building; county commissioners who were probably criticized, and hospital authority members who were certainly criticized: J.T. Beckham, Dr. Wright Hicks, Katherine Haisten, C.B. Brown, Dr. Jack Newman, Pliny Weaver, Pete Malone, Byrd Garland ... many, many more.

And now we can add Bruce Bartholomew and Denise Turner to the list of good guys who have supported our hospital over the years.

According to Wikipedia, “Sentimentality originally indicated the reliance on feelings as a guide to truth, but in current usage the term commonly connotes a reliance on shallow, uncomplicated emotions at the expense of reason.”

So, since I have good reasons for my tears, I cannot be accused of sentimentality.

Cheryl Hilderbrand is a Jackson writer and educator. Email her at cmhild@bellsouth.net.

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