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Jack of All Trades: Goodbye, farewell and amen, Athens

On Tuesday night, I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, as I’ve never maintained a well-regimented sleep schedule throughout my senior year. I’ve watched the sunrise and heard the morning birds sing more times than I care to admit because I’m often too stubborn to fall asleep.

But in the midst of that impromptu all-nighter, I watched a television episode that struck a chord in my head. It was the series finale of M*A*S*H, entitled “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.” 

The episode is a two-hour long sendoff that serves as a final farewell between the characters on the show. Many were set to return home, while others left for greener pastures. But every single one had to say goodbye to a group of people they’ve bonded with for life over the span of a few short years.

As I rewatched the finale, one particular quote stuck with me. As the main character, Hawkeye, prepares to leave camp in a helicopter, he pulls his best friend B.J. Hunnicutt aside and says something that I never truly appreciated until I rewatched the episode. 

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe we will see each other again, but just in case we don’t, I want you to know how much you’ve meant to me. I’ll never be able to shake you.”

That quote, and the episode as whole, hit me at a time when I needed it.

Graduation has been a pervasive thought in my mind over the past year. I initially tried to push it down and enjoy the scant time I had left in this remarkable little college town in the Appalachian foothills. But Father Time remains undefeated. My stint at Ohio University is nearing its end, and I, like those who came before me, will have to make my way beyond here.

Do I feel slighted? A little. COVID-19 robbed me of the middle years of college. I lost four “normal” semesters to a global pandemic that redefined how life had to function. I passed many of my classes from the confines of my bedroom and covered sporting events in socially-distanced press boxes.

But that doesn’t mean those four semesters were empty padding. In fact, they were lined with some of the best memories I’ve made both with The Post and outside of it.

In that time, I traveled across the Midwest — and occasionally beyond — covering Ohio football and men’s basketball. I even spent a few days in Indiana last year covering Ohio’s run in the NCAA Tournament. The friend group I’ve made while in Athens has evolved into a found family. Many of my friends became editors at The Post

Sure, there have been missteps and frustrations along the way. Sometimes my four-year march felt more akin to a disoriented stumble. But the good that came from my stay in Athens far outweighed the bad. No question.

There’s too much to do in what little time I have left, and there’s plenty of traditions I’ll miss. I’d rattle off a book’s worth of memories if I had all day. I’ll miss the weekend bar crawls that, without fail, end on the dance floor of Stephen’s. I’ll miss my friends that are moving onto bigger and better things. Most of all, I’ll miss Athens for making it all possible.

So, yes, I will likely see Athens again. Homecoming exists for a reason, after all. And there’s little doubt that I’ll run into my friends and fellow Bobcats along the way. 

But just in case I don’t, I wanted to extend my thanks to this special college town.

I’ll never be able to shake you, Athens. Thank you for everything.

Jack Gleckler is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and is the sports editor of The Post. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Jack? Tweet him @thejackgleckler.

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