I had a grandiose plan of penning a long ode to the Myrtle Beach/Conway community right before I left South Carolina. However, moving out of our house gobbled more of our time than expected and the simultaneous mainstream explosion of the Coronavirus froze my typing fingers for a few days.
With that said, although I won’t go north of 1,500 words, I did want to say goodbye to the community and some of the special people/places that made the last 5.5 years so enjoyable.
Sure, Myrtle Beach receives a certain reputation as a tourist town. But is that really a bad thing? I was never at a loss for things to do with major entertainment complexes, refreshing water parks, endless places to eat, some of the most insane putt putt courses you will ever see, and a beautiful body of water called THE BEACH all within 10 minutes of our house. Oh yeah, the gorgeous weather was also a perk.
But there was more to the community than fun activities and a favorable climate. Look past Broadway at the Beach or the Boardwalk and you will find passionate local people who take care of one another and do their best to make the Grand Strand a family-friendly place to live. I ingrained myself in the community and I can’t say thanks enough to everyone who welcomed me and treated me so well. Tonight I want to especially extend my gratitude to six different groups.
Sid’s Family – Not just “Sid’s family” but my family, I owe more than I can express to my in-laws, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, and niece. They accepted me into the Mathis clan and made me feel right at home. From Sunday meals to vacations to holidays to milestones in our lives, I am so appreciative of all the memories and so honored to be part of the family. I miss all of them dearly, but I have a real soft spot in my heart for Russell and Harrison, my niece and nephew. They are terrific and mature kids who never ceased to impress me. Love you all!!!
St. Andrew Catholic Church – What a special place. The best times in my entire life have taken place at the corner of 37th Avenue and Kings Highway. Within those walls I have tied the knot with Sidney, held both my children as they were baptized, and watched as my wife was welcomed into the Catholic Church. I have learned so much from amazing priests such as Msg. James LeBlanc and Fr. Roger Morgan, met our spiritual mentors (Tim and Kathy McCormick), and became part of a holy and charitable organization (Knights of Columbus). I absolutely grew closer to God at St. Andrew.
Iron Legacy Gym – Before I started working out at what was then called Gold’s Gym, I didn’t really think the people at an exercise facility could be family. For nearly three years I worked out at the tucked away gem on Jason Boulevard and quickly realized that this gym was different. The vibe was positive, the gym-goers were considerate, and the owners were the kindest and most humble people you will ever meet. The endorphins I generated from my exercise were not the only thing that got my day off to a good start––it was also the greetings and conversations I would have with owners Nancy and Tedd Capp. I already miss Iron Legacy.
Sloan’s Best Friend – The hardest part about moving, besides leaving Sid’s family, is leaving Sloan’s best friend, Jacqueline. Throughout most of their young lives they have had a special, genuine bond. Nothing brought me more joy than watching them play together, especially that first moment when they would run full speed and clasp their arms around each other in the sweetest hug you will ever witness. I will also really miss Jacqueline’s mom and my former CCU colleague, Susannah. Besides family, I don’t know if there was anyone who treated Sloan better than her. Susannah also did many thoughtful acts for Sid and I…she is truly a great friend.
Oxford Children’s Academy – When searching for a daycare, we were looking for a center that was convenient for us and comfortable for Sloan. Little did we know that we would get so much more than that at Oxford Children’s Academy. Sloan’s daycare expedited her cognitive development and improved her social skills. She was able to enjoy each day with her best friend (Jacqueline) by her side and Sid and I also got to socialize with our friends during pick ups and drop offs. Best of all, OCA cared about us!! They showed nothing but concern when Beau was in the NICU and a few weeks after Sloan’s last day the owner came over to give us gifts on behalf of OCA. If we find a daycare that is half as good as OCA in Washington, we will be in good hands.
Carolina Center for Advanced Dentistry – A dentist office, really? For someone who is not a big fan of the dentist, I felt fortunate to hit the jackpot with Carolina Center for Advanced Dentistry. I suffer from gum disease so that means I have to make a lot of trips to the dentist for treatments and additional cleanings. Because of this, I got to know the staff really well. The ladies in the office were always so kind and accommodating and the dentists were all down to earth. But the best part about going there was my hygienist, Vanessa. She is so talented at what she does and always made me comfortable, even during treatments that could be painful. We became friends and I literally looked forward to going to the dentist…something I never would have said before.
Stay classy, Myrtle Beach. I can’t wait to visit again and reunite with the people and places that mean so much to me. Don’t Blink.