Peper column Mr. Eddie (copy)

Mr. Eddie greets one of the visitors to Roper Hospital's Medical Office Building. File/Warren Peper/Provided

Well, another year has come and gone and it’s yet another unsuccessful relationship for me with the folks at the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

All of 2017, I constantly received emails telling me how much they wanted to make me a millionaire. I had even spent more than a few moments planning how I could possibly spend $5,000 a week for life. I even had justified in my mind how less expensive it might be to make me a winner as opposed to someone much younger. After all, just how many more weeks do I have left?

For those of you biding your time this first day of 2018 and wondering why you stayed up so late or why the dog kept barking at the fireworks outside last night, we’ll keep things light and conversational.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through my emails hoping to assess which columns sparked the most response in the last year. I enjoy hearing from those of you who feel inclined to respond. I also try to personally reply to every person who sends a note.

Some topics of the column last year included typewriters, trains and tomatoes. We even discussed memories of homemade ice cream. I told you how important it was for every child to develop a relationship with the lunchroom lady along with the ongoing connection Guerin’s Pharmacy has with its customers in Summerville.

Column countdown

The three columns that produced the most responses dealt with recovery, relief and reassurance. Your comments often echoed those same sentiments.

The third most responses followed a column dealing with "My Hometown." It recalled how we recovered from Hugo’s visit in 1989 versus how others in Houston, Florida and elsewhere were reeling from 2017 hurricanes. I spoke of intermittently sobbing while gathering limbs and debris and requesting a local radio station play Bruce Springsteen’s plaintiff melody "My Hometown."

Toni McHugh wrote, “'My Hometown' was a very moving piece. I am sharing with friends and family.”

Gwen Fish remembered, “There was not a pine tree or telephone pole in either direction.”

The second-largest reaction was to a local man’s effort to help people in Puerto Rico because he employed workers with family members who were suffering after Hurricane Irma. Many of you were touched and wanted to help. Your generous support allowed him to return in mid-December to finish building an old woman’s house with concrete blocks.

Rita Lucas commented, “Your column makes me laugh, think outside the box, and make me cry. I shed tears today and want to help.”

The man who spearheaded this cause, Deitrick Stelljes, was extremely grateful for the donations.

The envelope, please

The column that elicited more emails than any other profiled a man who smiles, greets and welcomes people in a parking lot. It was Mr. Eddie’s story that prompted so many of you to respond. He is the parking attendant outside Roper Hospital’s cancer treatment facility.

Henry Siegling said, “While taking my wife for treatments ... always looked forward to his upbeat attitude and smile.”

Jeffrey Pearson applauded Mr. Eddie for “being a natural at putting everyone at ease just when they may need it the most.”

Here’s something I learned just a few days ago. All the while Eddie Jameson was smiling and greeting and uplifting those in the parking lot before and after their cancer treatments, Mr. Eddie was struggling privately with his own health concerns.

I can only hope 2018 allows all of us to pursue life with the same energy and hopefulness he exhibits daily.

The various aspects of recovery, relief and reassurance didn’t just surface on our radar by happenstance. Those column subjects might just provide us with enough to help ourselves and each other as we journey into another year.

Happy New Year everybody!