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the occasions lady and

A Mountain of Memories
by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Guest

If given the choice, I’m pretty sure that I would rather dig a ditch than move.

By the time this issue is published, we will have hopefully completed the third move of the Occasions Publishing Group office in 15-plus years. Although we are only moving across Main Street this time, it has taken a couple of months to prepare. Since early March, our staff has helped organize, box, label and haul items from one side of the street to the other. With the assistance of friends and family, Rodney has quitely taken on far more than his share of the workload.

Most of my time has been spent sorting through a sea of magazines, attempting to make sure we have at least a few copies of each issue. It is an emotional task to sort through most of your life’s work. Not only does each issue evoke memories of people who were interviewed or photographed, it is also tied to a certain time in my life. For example, at least three issues of Occasions remind me of attempting to go to press while dealing with kidney stones, including one issue that I proofread from a hospital bed. Others bring back fun memories of working with staff members to get creative cover shots in the middle of Main Street or of more difficult days when we battled extreme heat, gusting winds or freezing temperatures for just the right shot.

What surprises me most of all, however, is how much my kids have grown since we published the first issue in August 2003. Editor’s letters, photos and columns sprinkled throughout past issues remind me of how much they have changed.

Adam was 11 when Occasions debuted. Today, he is finishing his third year of medical school at UAMS. When we talked tonight, he told me he had helped deliver twin boys by C-section as part of his current rotation.

Emma turned 7 the same month Occasions debuted and was just discovering a love for the performing arts. Today, she teaches drama to more than 700 students at Jonesboro’s Visual and Performing Arts School.

Sophie, who was just 1 year old at the time, was still sleeping in a crib when I began putting the first issue together in a spare bedroom in our home. Today, she is wrapping up her junior year at Jonesboro High School. She is the last bird in the nest, and her senior year is quickly approaching.

I don’t ever want to move again, but digging through a mountain of memories this month has given me a reason to stop, reflect and be thankful. I am blessed to be their mom and to have had the opportunity to watch them grow. I am also thankful for a husband who understands that when your anniversary, press day and moving day collide, you just try to survive now and celebrate later.