A homecoming tale

Kari Lynn Collins’ powerful column in the Iowa Park Leader is not only a beautiful tribute to that publication’s 50th anniversary—it is also a loving tribute to its founder and publisher, and her mother, Dolores Hamilton. 
Kari’s words struck many familiar chords with me this week, as I remembered the September 22 birthday of my mother and co-publisher, Nancy Ezzell, whose quiet wisdom and strength guided The Canadian Record for over six decades until her death in 2013. Truth be told, it still does.
Journalists like these are the real heart and soul of community journalism, and their lives and work a perfect testament to the importance of its survival. I couldn’t have said it any better than Kari did, so I’m turning this month’s column over to her.
Happy homecoming, Dolores!

By Kari Lynn Collins 
Iowa Park Leader

If you wondered how much love this newspaper has for this community, you don’t have to look any further than our founder and publisher, Dolores Hamilton.
This week already promised to be anything but dull. It’s homecoming week, a big deal for our schools, businesses and community, in general. And, it is our newspaper’s 50th anniversary. 
We’ve been preparing for homecoming since mid-summer. This is not our first Whoop-T-Do, as they say, but it is still a lot of work putting it together.
Last weekend, Mom travelled to Atlanta to her granddaughter’s wedding, and things didn’t quite go as planned. At Friday’s rehearsal dinner, a backyard deck did what backyard decks sometimes do to people who are carrying a plate of food — it invited her to lay down. In the process, it broke Mom’s upper femur.
She thought she just bruised it and waited until Saturday morning to go to the hospital for an X-Ray. This is when super Dolores was born. Upon finding out she had fractured the largest bone in her body and that surgery would most certainly be required, she told the surgeon she had a homecoming issue to put out next week, so he should probably just let her get on that plane and head home.
That is when he laughed.
Sunday morning, Dr. Ha Ha put three necessary screws in her femur. By the afternoon, Mom was telling the doctor he would be discharging her Monday, because you know, homecoming in Iowa Park.
What followed was the most motivated physical therapy patient on the planet doing a week’s worth of therapy in 12 hours.
On Monday, my sisters sent me a picture of my mother, who was meticulously dressed and ready to go home, waiting for the doctor. She was going to bust out, come hell or high water. And she did.
Miraculously, she flew home early Tuesday. As soon as she walked into her house with a walker she had not left with, she believed she needed to go to the office.
For the first time since Friday, she did not win the argument. We spent Tuesday afternoon at her dining room table, proof-reading copy for this week’s issue. I became intensely aware of her strength, resilience, and motivation as she treated a broken femur like a hangnail.
Had been me with a recently screwed up thigh bone, I would have been enjoying all the amenities an orthopedic hospital had to offer for as long as they would keep me. 
While Mom is more of a badger, I carry the DNA of a sloth and at times like this it really shows.
Also, Mom is managing her pain with extra-strength Tylenol, and I would be screaming for all the opioids, even though I am allergic.
Mom had her first surgery ever and will miss her first homecoming ever, all in the same week. Even she will admit she’s not quite ready to navigate Hawk Stadium, so she will be watching the Iowa Park Leader Facebook live, and listening to the game on Hawk Radio. I’ll be giving her some shoutouts during our Facebook live, so get ready.
The woman is tiny, but fierce. Don’t mess with her or her newspaper deadline, or her love for all things Iowa Park. 
She was determined not to miss this homecoming and this huge anniversary she and my dad held the vision for, and she didn’t.
I know I’m not the only one who admires that, and I also know this community loves her back.
We are honored to have been Iowa Park’s voice for the past 50 years, and we look forward as a family to the next 50.

Happy Anniversary to the Iowa Park Leader and Happy Homecoming to each of you, and a special happy homecoming to your leader and publisher.