The show isn't over until the swan sings - Clay Wilson

It's customary, I suppose, for a writer to make his so-called "swan song" column his last one before he leaves a particular publication.

But that just feels so final, and goodbyes are hard enough. Thus, I thought I'd go ahead and let folks know I'm leaving in this column, so that I can really go out with a bang in my last one next week.

The blues are calling me. Next Saturday, July 31, I will pull up stakes in my 30-year home state of Georgia and head to Memphis, Tenn. n the birthplace of the blues.

Actually, it's not so much the blues that are calling me as it is my sister and brother-in-law. They've been talking about me coming to live closer to them for several years now.

Until about a year-and-a-half ago that would have meant going to Wake Forest, N.C. I thought about it, but the timing just wasn't right back then.

At that time, having spent all my life in Gainesville and the first six years of my career in White County, the lure of Atlanta was drawing me. I searched for a job with a metro-area paper and landed this position with the Herald.

After two years here I've gotten the Atlanta-lust out of my system n or have at least subdued it to the point at which I could consider going somewhere else. So with my lease coming to an end and my relatives renewing their call for me to join them (now in Cordova, near Memphis), I decided to take the chance.

It's a big chance. For the first time since I graduated from college, I'll be moving somewhere without a job lined up. I want to stay in newspapers, but haven't been able to find a job in that field yet.

Still, I'm confident something will open up. One of my former editors keeps telling me I can be a tour guide at Graceland. Either he's just joking with me, or he doesn't have a very high opinion of my journalistic skills.

But enough about me; let's talk about you. And by "you" I mean Henry County.

I have greatly enjoyed my time here. In fact, I've had so much fun it's hard to believe it's been almost two years already.

Although Hall, my former home county, is growing, it seems to me the growth there has been steadier than it has been here in Henry. I don't recall that county ever being among the top 10 fastest growing in the nation, as Henry has since I've been here.

I don't have to tell those who have made their home here that Henry County has a lot going for it. It's still rural enough to have that southern charm, but suburban enough to offer a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment choices.

Plus, it's only about 30 minutes from a major city, with all the cultural and recreational opportunities that offers.

But, as cliched as it is to say, the county's greatest resource is its people. So many of those I've encountered here have exuded the grace, charm and hospitality for which the South is legendary.

I've been invited to strangers' houses, shared their food, heard their stories and just been treated as if I were part of the family. Such kindness helps to endear a place to someone's heart even more strongly than the physical surroundings.

I'd especially like to give a "shout-out" to the county's educators. After nearly two years of covering education here, I've seen how hard they work and have been amazed at the professionalism, commitment and concern for children that I've seen displayed time and time again.

And I know, again, that it's a clich?, but this county's children really are its future. And I'm hoping to return to Henry County someday n and to find it just as beautiful, exciting and friendly as when I left.

So that's it. That's my swan song. I'm not sure exactly where that term comes from, but I'm sure I can look on the Internet and find out.

Maybe that'll be the subject of my final column.

Clay Wilson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at cwilson@henryherald.com.