People in small towns whisper, point fingers, take a little thing and make it a big thing. The higher the profile, the bigger the target. No one escapes scrutiny and judgment, however petty it may be. Every wart is available for inspection and snickering.

No one around here points a finger at Reed Carter and says he has clay feet and is a big phony. No, instead, they say Reed Carter is as real as a heartbeat. What you see is what you get.

And no one in this area would be surprised to find out about that gold heart amulet which holds Cathy's ashes.

After Cathy died and was cremated, Mike bought a metal gold heart for Reed, one big enough to cover the palm of his hand. Inside the heart Reed placed his mom's ashes. Every June 17, on Cathy's birthday, Reed stands on a beach and throws a pinch into the Pacific Ocean.

"I tell her I love her," Carter said. "I tell her everything I do is for her. I tell her I want her to be proud of me."

Carter keeps that golden heart in the glove box of his 2000 black Toyota Tacoma. It goes everywhere with him. Before every football game he's ever played, Carter is excused and goes off to a room by himself. He then has that conversation with his mother, the one he wished he had five years ago.

To those who know Reed Carter, they would tell him this.

You don't have to do that anymore, Reed. She knows. We all do.

You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or

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