By M. Scott Morris
SALTILLO – One of the keys to happiness is knowing your limitations. Sheryl Blackburn said she has that covered.
“I want to do it all, but I can’t do it all. They asked me to be in the church choir, and I cannot sing,” she said. “They talk about a joyful noise, but that is not me. I don’t want to throw anyone off.”
The 66-year-old Saltillo resident will probably have a lazy day on Christmas, which is also her birthday. A restful day would be a change of pace for someone who’s often on the go.
“I don’t understand people who are bored,” she said.
If Blackburn isn’t riding her horse, Comanche, she might be working in her sewing room, or visiting a nursing home with her Comfort Creature dogs, or attending a board meeting at the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, or preparing for a second stint as chairwoman of Sanctuary Hospice House’s Celebration Village.
“I stay busy,” she said. “That’s how I like it.”
Blackburn grew up in the Delta, and worked as a home economist in Sunflower County until she transferred to Lee County in the early 1990s.
One of her first orders of business after retiring was to get a horse. She and her husband, Jacky, ride together, but they’re not exactly on the same page concerning trail rides. He prefers more adventurous terrain than she does.
“When I ride, I want to be very laid-back,” she said. “I like to chitchat.”
During pleasant weather, she’s happy to be outside with her horses or tending to her garden, but it’s a different story during cold months.
“If they were to lock me up inside my sewing room for the winter, I’d have fun,” she said. “I’d be like Br’er Rabbit, ‘Please don’t throw me in the sewing room.’”
In truth, it’s doubtful her schedule would ever allow such a scenario. She has places to be and people to see.
One of those places is Magnolia Manor, where she regularly takes two of her dogs, Jack and Trixie, to serve as therapy dogs with Comfort Creatures of North Mississippi.
She has two other dogs, Sassy and Emily, and there’s always a chance another could join the family.
“What my husband will do when I see a stray animal on the side of the road is he’ll speed up,” she said. “If I had my way, I would have a lot more animals than this.”
She got involved with the Humane Society several years ago after a visit to the GumTree Festival.
“They usually have a bunch of puppies there to adopt,” Blackburn said. “My friend was working that day. She took my name and telephone number, and that’s how it happened.”
She probably spends most of her volunteer time with the shelter, and it doesn’t take much to get her to explain the benefits of spaying and neutering pets. It’s a simple solution to a sad problem, she said.
“We will never be able to build a big enough shelter if we don’t spay and neuter dogs and cats,” she said.
If animals are her first passion, people aren’t far behind. A couple of years ago, she was chairwoman of Celebration Village.
“I was blessed that year. The right people were on the right committees, so they did their jobs beautifully. That’s the secret,” Blackburn said. “I can’t tell you how blessed I was.”
She could be asking for trouble, but she’s agreed to be 2014 chairwoman. She hopes volunteers once again will step up to help make the event a success.
And if that happens, don’t expect Blackburn to sing about it. She knows her limitations, after all.