Last week I was talking to Judge David Watkins. He was quite upset over the naming of the new Judicial Center and the fact that the late Judge John H. Ruffin Jr.'s name had been left off the building. In fact, he was so upset he refused to move his office into the new building until the name was corrected. I thought it was brave of him to protest in honor of his mentor and friend and told him so. He replied, "I believe in giving people their roses."
That statement made me think about all the people I should have thanked for helping me over the years. I still owe roses to one lady in particular.
When I was fresh out of college and a young field executive at the Central Savannah River Girl Scout Council, I had the great fortune to meet Sharon Caldwell. She took me under her wing. She helped me develop as a writer and encouraged me to be passionate about things that were important to me. Most importantly, I saw that she was a woman who was not afraid to speak out about the things she believed in. I admired that.
After a year as a field executive, Sharon encouraged me to apply for a position as the director of public relations for Girl Scouts. I was surprised when I got the job. It was Sharon who told me that your heart and your head will take you to unimaginable places and as long as you have faith you will get there. She gave me my first Bible (in my favorite color, pink). One day, Sharon said out of the blue, "Cher Best, you're an out-of-the-box thinker, use it. If it doesn't work, keep trying until you get it to work the way you want it to."
Sharon and I have maintained an almost-20-year friendship. I now work in radio and she is now the Rev. Sharon Caldwell. We've both come a long way, but I believe that if it had not been for her mentorship and respect I would be a different person.
I don't believe I have ever told her how much an influence she has been on my life. If there is someone like that in your life, make sure you tell them, call them, send an e-mail, perhaps even protest in their honor.
Incidentally, City Administrator Fred Russell says plans have been made to make the full name of the building the Augusta Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse. I plan to attend the reception that will honor Ruffin at 4 p.m. May 22 (tours begin at 2).
I also plan to give his gracious widow a rose.
As for the Rev. Caldwell, this is my small way of giving her roses. Thank you, my friend and mentor; these flowers are long overdue.