We got a new-to-us Jeep (to replace an older Jeep that was pretty worn out) as our Christmas present to ourselves, and as much as I love the way I can no longer smell exhaust fumes, an added bonus is that it picks up my favorite Nashville radio station – all the way in Owensboro, KY!

650 AM, WSM radio that broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry, plays country music that still sounds like country music. Cash, Jennings, Cline, and those who make music in their style are all welcome. If I am out early, I even get to hear Bill Cody, longtime DJ and resident of my hometown, on his morning show.

In recent weeks, I haven’t spent as much time driving around as I usually do. In fact, because of chemo weeks and a snow week (over 10 inches!), I figure that it’s been almost a month since I was last in the car by myself. Being somewhat homebound, and being dependent on others to take me places, is one of the lessons I am learning during this season.

But when I am able to get out by myself, I crank up whatever is on the radio, and the playlist never fails to remind me of high school, growing up in small-town middle Tennessee, listening to the local county radio station, singing along with these old songs when they were a lot less old.

One of the last times I had the opportunity to be by myself in the car, Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” came on, and blame it on the chemo or the joy of being by myself, I shed a few tears thinking about my high school years, my friends from back then, and some happy memories.

I haven’t stayed very close with many of my high school friends. I moved away almost 16 years ago, and in that pre-Facebook time, I wasn’t very good at keeping in touch. But in recent days, several old friends and former teachers have been so kind, giving me words of encouragement when I needed them, letting me know that they are praying for us on difficult days, and being some great cheerleaders from a distance.

So, I just want to take a minute to say “thanks.” Thanks to our little town and small school for being a good place to grown up, thanks for giving me the foundation to go out and spread my wings, and thanks for reminding me that we can still care for one another across the miles.

And when I am finally able to get out and drive around, I’ll crank up the radio and remember.