Hear Me Roar
November 2019 Issue
Photography by Mike Force Photography
From: South Glastonbury, CT
Lives on: St. Simons Island
Debbie, how did you meet your husband, Scott? What stirred your move to St. Simons Island in 2016? We met during my freshman year at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. I was pursuing an elementary education degree and looking for Mr. Right. I spotted a tall handsome boy from Brunswick, GA., during orientation and that was that.
We married after graduation and three years later left New England for the University of Georgia and grad school. Scott started working for The Coca-Cola Company after an internship there, and we moved to Atlanta. I found alternative ways of using my education degree in manufacturing, multimedia, distribution and even at the GAP with positions that allowed me to do corporate training, write operations manuals, conduct new hire orientation, and even accounting. When my babies came, I never hesitated to stay at home with them.
I worked for Fulton County Schools as a school assistant, substitute and front desk receptionist when our children entered elementary school and essentially went to work with them. Tyler (now 25) and Hannah (22) both graduated from UGA with degrees in public relations like their daddy. They live in Atlanta and Athens, have neat jobs with PR agencies and are successfully adulting!
My first trip to Saint Simons Island was in 1994. The five-hour drive from Atlanta was easily forgotten as we rolled down the windows and breathed the salty air. We returned almost every year after that with dreams of island living. After 25 years with Coke, Scott retired, and we moved to Saint Simons to start this next chapter together.
Scott is now a professor at the College of Coastal Georgia sharing his years of corporate experience. We love our home, the relaxed slower pace of the island, the beautiful year-round climate and all our new friends.
What are your creative and community outlets? My mother made most of our clothes when we were little, and by the time we reached middle school, sewing outfits for special occasions were projects we looked forward to. Over the years I’ve enjoyed sewing home fashions and for a time had a small business creating window treatments, pillows, nursery items and bedding.
Gardening is a joy, and I prefer working in the yard to going to the gym. I have fun figuring out what does best in St. Simons soil. I joined Cassina Garden Club for a year meeting some wonderful women who share my love of gardening and event planning.
Volunteering is my source of friendship; it fills my calendar and makes me happy. I serve on the School Council at Goodyear Elementary and plan a Trunk or Treat every fall through Saint Simons Community Church. I help with the Sunday services to welcome newcomers, and with “Beloved,” a program for single moms and their children.
How have you been blessed? I was raised in a small Connecticut town with wonderful parents and a younger sister Pam, shared the past 32 years with my wonderful husband Scott, have two amazing children—truly a charmed life. Four years ago I experienced complications with a kidney stone that led to sepsis, a heart attack, four days in ICU, weeks of IV antibiotics and a year of recovery. I might not have survived if Scott had not found me when he did, or the doctors had not diagnosed my infection in time.
That was a close call and it made me pay more attention to things I had taken for granted. Every single day is a precious gift. I try, though I often fail, to be intentional about loving more, giving more, smiling more, sharing more, doing more. In the season of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for even the smallest of God’s many blessings because they are so abundant!
What would you be doing if money was no object? Whether we are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, or time, there are so many opportunities to help others. It’s easy to get comfortable in our own lives and carry on with our busy schedules. Unfortunately, there are real needs in our schools, with foster children, single moms, the homeless—the list is long. We can help with our hearts and hands, and we can make a difference with our pocketbooks. My friend Doug at St. Simons Community Church says, “If we knew more, we would do more.” I like to think this is true. If money was no object, I would find more ways to communicate those needs and organize others to help in our own backyard.
Over the years at the Williamson family Thanksgivings:
> Have everyone to our home, dine-out, or invited over to family/friends… I would rather do the dishes than the cooking, and I confess I have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey from raw to table. If I’m in charge of dinner, we either eat out or order in. Not to say I can’t cook, I just don’t like to cook.
> Stuffing or Dressing? In Connecticut we called it stuffing and added apples, onions and celery to the recipe. I still make it today and like to bake it in a muffin pan for everyone to enjoy their own stuffing muffin.
> Bake from scratch or… A Baker I am not. I do occasionally “break” cookies (the kind you get at the supermarket and break apart before baking) and have been known to fancy-up a cookie mix with extra chips or dried fruit.
> Prepare a slew of side-dishes or… While I love every item on the traditional Thanksgiving menu, we took a break from green bean casserole and sweet potatoes for a few years. We served fun appetizers, turkey, and dessert with no complaints from anybody!
Now in a new life chapter, you call yourself part of the “sandwich” generation… I’m a newcomer to empty-nesting and a part of me is lost. They still need me occasionally, and I enjoy that. Recently, the daily responsibilities of being mommy have been replaced with my renewed role as daughter. When I moved south in 1990, I said goodbye to my family, knowing I would only see them on vacations and special occasions. Two years ago my parents relocated here from New Hampshire and now live at Marsh’s Edge Retirement Community. They are literally around the corner. Having them close by is a pleasure and life chapter I never assumed possible. I am available to join them for dinner, or Trivia on each week. I am thankful I’m available to help them with whatever they may need, and just be “on call.”
I’m Roaring about Blessings and Delights…
I love this Andy Stanley quote: “Our greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
My story isn’t full of impressive titles or accolades. I have not been the CEO of a company or the Director of an organization. I’m also not one to roar about much, but I am thankful for the blessings in this life, happy with the choices I’ve made, and most proud of the children I raised. I get excited seeing them making their mark in the lives of their friends, their community and the impact they are already having on this world. Being a MOM is one of my treasured blessings and delights in life.