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by Stan Morris
I stepped off of the elevator on the second floor of NEA Baptist hospital Wednesday, September 19, 2018, and immediately made eye contact with a familiar face. Waiting for me outside of the intensive care unit was KAIT News Director Josh White.
“Are you here for someone else?” I asked.
He shook his head no. I broke down and hugged him as I cried into his shoulder. I could tell he was crying too but he kept a strong face. I needed that strength. Josh knew that and it was why he was there.
“No one should ever have to go through this,” he said.
He had not seen my mom. I showed him a photo and he physically jolted when he saw it. It was worse than anyone could have expected. I knew because I had experienced the same feeling as I walked into my mother’s emergency room Sunday evening. As I write this, we still do not have answers. Police are investigating it and are waiting for results from the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
Every single day since they learned of it, Josh, Hatton Weeks, the general manager, and anchor Diana Davis have been in constant contact with me. Over the years, I have had friendships with all three but it was Diana I called to tell when events happened. She’s always been a close friend and compassionate voice. When I asked Josh who told him, he smiled and said, “Who do you think?” I already knew.
Although most will only ever know her from being the long-time anchor for Region 8 News at Five and Region 8 News at Six in Jonesboro, I will always know her to be the most empathetic, caring person I’ve ever worked with or even known. Diana Davis is an inspiration to me. Diana visited mom at the hospital several times. They have been friends for years, too. Although many might know that I once worked at KAIT with these kind people, less may realize that it was my mom who first got me hired. Her cleaning company was responsible for the janitorial work at the television station. A part-time associate producer job opened and she put in a good word for me with the management.
And all these years later and after everything, they wanted me to know they were with me. Josh told me we would be competitors again on another day but they were supporting me throughout this.
I can’t explain what hearing that meant during the scariest moment of my life. I can’t tell you how much the calls and texts and visits have meant, either. The only way I can even word it is to say that it got me through the week from hell.
For that, I will forever be thankful.
Since then, Hatton, Josh, and Diana have checked in with me quite often. Josh, who is the boss of the news room, said they would only report what police told them to and wouldn’t pry. He was very thoughtful. Diana and Hatton have both each called and taken calls to offer extensive advice or in some cases, a comforting voice to a panicked son who desperately wanted answers and action. Even veteran producer Patricia Davis, also a former colleague, sent kind messages. The kind gestures from all four in the weeks immediately after were crucial. I don’t know how I could have made it through this period without their surprising and welcomed embrace.
I will be forever gracious to all of you for this. I am humbled and I thank you.