By Nina Keenam
Editor’s note: We are happy to welcome columnist Nina Keenam to Atmore News. Her column will be a regular feature on our opinion page.
This column began one afternoon when I sat down and wrote about turning my husband’s underwear pink. I had unknowingly tossed something pink that faded in my washing machine. I got up the nerve the next day to show the column to The Andalusia Star-News editor who surprised me by printing it. Although my late husband, an army ROTC instructor at Andalusia High School at the time, was happy for my by-line, he was not thrilled when one of his students asked him if he was wearing his pink underwear.
The column ran when I wrote on inspiration for several months. When a new editor joined the Star-News, he requested it weekly. Since that time, I have continued to write it every week. I receive my inspiration (Now and then I refer to it as perspiration when I get writer’s block) from various people, places and things. Sometimes an unintentional overheard conversation sparks a column idea. For more than 20 years, I wrote about our experiences at annual dulcimer festivals my husband and I attended. When I accompanied him to various ministerial workshops, etc., I often gleaned columns from them. After we bought our first RV, I began writing about our camping experiences. Sometimes when I hear or experience something heartwarming, I find it food for a column. My grandchildren were great column subjects. Even now, I sometimes reminisce about my children’s childhoods.
My husband spent 20 years in the military. My son, daughter, and I joined him in Germany. We were there during the Cuban Crisis and when the Berlin Wall was erected. Fortunately, my mother kept the letters I wrote during the 32 months the children and I were there. I sometimes refer to them to refresh my memory for a column.
Life with my soldier husband was never dull. I remember seeing a war movie with a friend when I was a teenager. We left the theatre wiping tears from our eyes, touched by what we saw. “I’ll never marry a soldier,” I declared. Years later, I did exactly what I said I wouldn’t. One February day, I stood before a minister beside a handsome man in uniform and repeated my marriage vows.
I never suspected that several years after his army retirement, he would answer God’s call to ministry. I became a minister’s wife. When he decided to pursue the ministry full time, he was appointed to a new congregation in Lillian, Ala. –another move. For 13 years he led the congregation in building a sanctuary, fellowship hall, and parsonage.
After his last retirement, he experienced gradual loss of his eyesight. With special software that magnified and read his copy to him and with my help now and then, he wrote five books. He brought a new man in my life – his main character, Reverend Alabaster Armstrong – and furnished me with other column subjects.
I look forward to sharing my columns with Atmore News readers. I welcome your comments.
Nina Keenam may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.