It was around midnight 37 years ago when the phone call came. It was the Chaplin from Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina. He asked to speak to my mother or father. My mom took the call. The Chaplin tells her that around 7 p.m. (July 4th) there was a swimming accident and my brother was taken to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina where he was unconscious and on a respirator. Immediately my mom got my dad awake – she did everything she could to get her and my dad to Charlotte as soon as possible so they could be with their son.
My parents finally got a flight to Charlotte on July 5, but by the time they arrived at the hospital it was too late. Jeff had passed on. I answered the phone when my mom called home. She asked for my older brother who was in the barn taking care of the cows. I called out to him through the intercom system. He picked up the phone and I stayed on the line. As my mom told Bud that Jeff had passed away I dropped the phone, screaming out “why God, why”? I believed that God was going to spare Jeff’s life. I believed that Jeff would be okay – after-all, I spent hours in prayer after my parents left for Charlotte – how could God not have spared him. I remember my sister-in-law comforting me as I screamed and wailed. I was devastated.
Just a week before the accident Jeff was home on leave and showing me how to drive stick shift in his fancy little Triumph. Jeff wasn’t always so nice to me, we had our sibling squabbles, but in our later years, when I was a teenager and he was out of school, he became my protector. I forgave him for the mean things he did to me as his little sister – I grew to appreciate him and then he was gone.
Today, as in years past and as I grew older, I have more of an appreciation of the 4th of July. I now understand and appreciate the sacrifices military men and women have made. I do my best to recognize them on our nation’s birthday – it’s difficult though – because, when I think of this day and those who have sacrificed their lives, I can’t help to think of Jeff. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne & Special Operations Unit. He was part of the 82nd Airborne – he was on a 30 day leave, preparing to go to Fort Riley, Kansas. He loved jumping out of planes & helicopters – on his arm he had a tattoo saying “God is my reserve” with a parachute – meaning that God would save him if his parachute wouldn’t open and he had to pull his reserve. I miss my brother with all my heart – I wonder what he would be like as a 58 year old man. Would he have children, be a grandfather? So many things I wonder about him if he were alive today.
It’s been almost a week since the first day of summer and before we get too far into it I want to write about the wonderful spring we’ve had here in south central PA and where I’m at today. This past winter didn’t bring us much snow, but we had a fair amount of rain in April and early May which helped to make everything lush and green. I can’t remember the last time the area has been so beautiful and spring so delightful. This spring has certainly made it easy for me to appreciate the vastness of God’s blessing
Amongst all the goodness this spring has brought me there have definitely been some challenges as well not related to mother nature. Without going into much detail regarding those challenges I just want to say that with each hurdle I was determined to look for the positive and to remain focused on the end result. Over the years I learned how much negativity sucks energy and is non-productive. Since I was layed off from my day job last summer I vowed to be positive and to fight any force of negativity. I vowed to find the good, the best in everything. It hasn’t always been easy and I still have my moments where I feel like giving up, however, by being able to enjoy the wondrous blessings of nature and its simplicity I’ve been able to deal with difficulties.
Through the difficulties I am reminded often of my years growing up on a farm and how when I had challenges I would take walks along the fence row until I got to the meadow where I enjoyed the seeing the milkweeds and the cat-of-nine tails that grew in the stream. I remember walking through the fields of clover trying not to step on bumble bees as they flew from one purple clover flower to another. So, today as an adult returning to nature as my healer or therapist is only natural.
One thing I’ve been doing a lot of this spring is capturing nature through photography in various forms . At first my reason for taking the photos were so I could preserve moments of my life since I didn’t have the time to write, but now capturing the moments in nature has because more about the beauty and appreciating the simple things in life.
Having material things have never been a top priority with me. For me it’s been more about the needs of people, particularly family and friends. At 15 I lost my brother and that had a major impact on my life and how I see things now. I remember my roots and the roots of my ancestors. I know that nothing is guaranteed in life. I have asked myself, if I were to lose all things material how would I handle that? And my answer s this this – as long as I have family, friends, and good memories than I have more than money can buy.
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Good Morning and Happy Easter.
(a rambling of memories past and religious holidays)
Easter Past and My Mom
On this day I am reminded of the Easters I attended church with my mom. I remember the congregation singing “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known”, The Old Rugged Cross, He Lives and many other songs that are subject to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – since that is what Easter is about in the Christian faith.
I remember coming home after church to the smell of baked ham. Soon there would be white mashed potatoes, ham gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and corn to accompany the ham on the table. Mom’s fresh homemade pies for dessert. This is how I remember Easter – with of course the traditional Easter basket stuffed with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, marshmallow peeps and bunnies, and colored eggs.
For Christians, Easter is a time to fully and consciously reflect on God’s love and what it means – God gave his only son to take on the sins of the world so that others can have eternal life.
I’m not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person and it is holidays like Easter when I am reminded of my mom and her desire for her children to learn about faith. It was my grandmother, my mother’s mother-in-law, who taught my mom about faith. If it weren’t for my mother and grandmother I don’t think I would have the spiritual foundation I have today. I don’t think I would understand the sacredness of religious holidays no matter what the religion, with that said – Happy Passover (a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites release from slavery under Egypt – a mass Exodus that was led by Moses) which started at sundown this past Friday.
Easter Present and My Mom
Last night I went to see my mom in a nursing facility. She was diagnosed with dementia several years ago. This past fall, as a family, we decided it was best to place her where she can receive 24 hour care. My mom no longer realizes what day of the week, month or year it is – not even that it is Easter – knowing that makes me sad, however, what keeps me moving forward is knowing what Easter meant to her in the past. I gave her a card last night that said, “Walking with Jesus makes the very best company”. She read the card to me and then looked up at me, smiling, her blue eyes sparkling and said – “walking with Jesus”. I love my mom and even though she may not always know who I am, I know who she is and thankful for all the precious moments I’ve shared with her and continue to share with her.
One of my mom’s favorite songs to sing was the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ – so in honor of my mom here is the song in video form with lyrics – sung by Sandi Patti
I’ve never been a Penn State fan and have paid little attention to Penn State’s record. Anytime I wanted to know how Penn State did in a game, I asked my husband. When the news broke this past weekend about Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing young boys, I was appalled, saddened, and angered. Sandusky was the assistant coach to Penn State until 1999 when he took early retirement.
During Sandusky’s time at Penn State, he started a program for at risk children, The Second Mile. The children were from unstable homes or single parent homes. These are the type of children pedophiles prey on. They are taken under the wing of the pedophile where they are given attention and made to feel important. Soon the young boys’ lives are abruptly compromised when the pedophile begins to touch them inappropriately. Apparently, in 2002, this is what one graduate student witnessed Sandusky do in a shower with a young boy inside the Lasch Football Building located on the University Park campus.
Terribly distraught over what he witnessed the graduate student turned to Coach Joe Paterno and in turn Paterno told his supervisors, Gary Schultz (Senior VP of Finance & Business) and to Tom Curley (Athletic Coach); Paterno was not legally obligated to do anything further. Schultz and Curley stated in the Grand Jury report that they handled the matter by telling Sandusky he can no longer bring children on the University Park campus. Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, was also made aware of the situation and that it was taken care of. No report was made to the University Park Police, PA State Police, or state and local child services.
So, should have Joe Paterno done more when he realized that the “powers that be” was going to sweep it under the rug and go on like it never happened? In my opinion, this is the “good ole’ boy network” at its best.
Joe Paterno, known as JoePa to most Penn State fans, is a sports icon. He has been Penn State’s head coach since 1966. He was recently named as the winningest Division I coach in NCAA history. He has been a role model for all who played for him, still playing and for young boys who hope to play for Penn State Nittany Lions. So, how can something so scandalous be connected to such an icon and possibly be remembered most for what he didn’t do?
For me, Joe Paterno should have done more. This wasn’t about winning a college bowl game or press conferences stating how a game could have/should have been played better. This was and is about children at the hands of a man (well known to Paterno) who preyed on the most vulnerable. This is about a situation that could have and should have been stopped a lot sooner, which would have prevented others from becoming victims.
Paterno had the opportunity to do something that was bigger than winning seasonal football games and bowl games. He could have saved young boys from the hands of a pedophile. He could have saved young boys from feeling uncomfortable when a man they looked up to touched them inappropriately. In my opinion, that is what would have made Paterno a REAL hero and role model.