There are good sides and bad sides to being retired. You get to travel more and in doing so you often miss things that would have been part of your regular routine when you were still working every day.
One of things that Mary Lou and I miss is our regular attendance at the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Donalsonville, which has been our church family for the past 38 years. It is not all bad because we get to experience worship in different ways in different locations, but we still miss the security and comfort of being in our longtime church home.
This past weekend we missed a special part of the service at FPC that honored two very exceptional women who have both been part of that church for over 80 years. The only way I know to make up for not being present is to tell you about them in this week’s column.
They are sisters. They are lifelong members of FPC. They have been our friends for the 43 years that we have lived in Donalsonville and Seminole County.
Martha Register and Dot Nickoley are special in so many ways. They have greeted me with a smile as long as I have known them. They are intellectually curious. They love to travel. They always believe we can be better, as a community, a church and an individual.
They both were educators extraordinaire. They took their jobs seriously, pushing and challenging students to be better. They did the same with their fellow teachers as they both moved into administration.
Martha and Dot, along with their husbands who have both gone on to their heavenly reward, raised some amazing kids. I know them all and they all seized their opportunity to explore the world and make it a better place. That is what their mothers taught them to do and they did it well.
Only two of the six children between them actually live in areas that are covered by the newspapers that carry my column. Dr. Ashley Register has been an important part of the medical community in Cairo for many years. Brinson Register left his mark on the educational system of Seminole County, where he just retired as Superintendent of Schools.
Without naming them all, every child of these two ladies have left their mark on the world. Can there be a more meaningful legacy for women who spent their lives teaching, both their kids and others? Actually, yes.
So many other children were also touched by the lives of these two teachers. Many who will read this column will remember the ways their lives were impacted by Miss Dot and Miss Martha.
However, you do not have to be a child to be taught. I served as an Elder with both Dot and Martha. Their faith is rock solid and they used their teaching skills to spread the good word in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for many years. In fact, they always responded to any call for help or assistance in the church’s programing.
I could go on and on about the good works of Martha Register and Dot Nickoley. Faithful. Dedicated. Friendly. Curious. Family. Friend.
Friend. Perhaps that is what I can speak to most directly. Despite all of the many honors that have come their way and despite the many good works they have shared in their lives, I treasure most the friendship that Mary Lou and I were blessed to enjoy with these two sisters.
Dot and Martha are two incredible women who allowed us to share part of their amazing journey by being our friends. Good solid friends who prayed for us, shared with us and provided us with some of the most honest and frank conversations during our long time here.
Like many others that know Dot Nickoley and Martha Register, we could not be there to celebrate their long and faithful time as members of FPC specifically and our greater community in general. I am sure all who know them recognize them as sisters … but they are so much more.
They have touched the lives of so many and in doing so have made this part of our world a better place.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org