You gotta believe 

And maybe you’d like to share?

UAMS, in partnership with several others, is expanding National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” feature to Arkansas.

The ReCenter Program of the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is inviting Arkansans to submit essays on the topic, “This I Believe.” ReCenter is a new program of the Institute on Aging aimed at bringing an “intergenerational” audience to programs on traditional and non-traditional health issues. These will include essay writing, oral histories, stress management and strength training.

Riley Lipschitz, ReCenter’s director, says the creative process of writing essays and public dialogue about them promote “a healthier individual and a healthier community.” Essays should be 350 to 500 words and take about three minutes to read aloud. Those selected will be read weekly on KUAR/KLRE, beginning Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. The Arkansas Times will feature winning essays and all will be archived at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library.

Essays may be submitted through December. You may send them to www.kuar.org or call or write Riley Lipschitz, 501-952-6690 or rlipschitz@uams.edu.

The first essay to be aired on KUAR is by Gwen Moritz, editor of Arkansas Business. It is reprinted below.

You can go home again

I believe you can go home again. I believe it because I did it. In 1989, my husband of nine months and I left Little Rock, Ark., and moved to Nashville, Tenn.. We moved for opportunity: We believed — rightly — that Little Rock would soon have a glut of unemployed journalists. We found jobs in Nashville and set up housekeeping. We learned to be married and to be homeowners and to be parents. We were content in Nashville, but every few months I would ask Rob if he thought we would ever move back to Arkansas. We lived in Nashville for 10 years, and for most of that time I felt like I was just visiting. When we finally were offered a chance to come home again, it took months for us to make up our minds. I think we were scared. We weren’t mortgage-free, childless newlyweds anymore, and giving up what we had was risky. But we had never really planned to raise our children 350 miles from the grandparents who had grown 10 years older during our sojourn.

We moved back to Little Rock in the waning days of the Clinton administration and found the city shell-shocked from the Whitewater experience. But we also found the same warm people and the slower pace that we had missed. (Around here, “traffic jam” means you are traveling slower than the speed limit.) The lower cost of housing made house-buying fun. Our favorite pizza place was still turning out the perfect crust. The schools I attended as a child seem just as nurturing and wholesome 30 years later. Every Friday-night trip to a restaurant turns into a high school reunion, and a lot of those former classmates have gone away and come back, too. A couple of years after our return, the Parkinson’s disease that my father kept at bay for several years began to take its terrible toll. He ended up in a nursing home, but I was able to visit him almost every day until his death last November. During his illness, he told me — for the first time — that it had broken his heart when Rob and I moved to Nashville and that the day I called to say we were coming home was one of the happiest days of his life. Mine too. Charles Portis, author of “True Grit” and — my favorite — “The Dog of the South,” wrote, “A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t quite achieve escape velocity.” Charles Portis and I just happen to be from Arkansas. I believe the same is probably true no matter where you call home.

Reflections: I wrote a first draft of this about a year ago, when my father was in the last stages of Parkinson’s disease, but I didn’t submit it. He died in November, and I just let it sit until last week, when I submitted this revised version to NPR. Writing it was easy, but deciding to share it was harder, and I’m not sure why. I write columns for Arkansas Business regularly and record commentary for KUAR, but I usually don’t write about such personal subject.

You can write Gwen Moritz at gmoritz@abpg.com


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