Category Archives: college

Life and Death: Basketball and Christmas

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A unique and special idea for those children who are disabled, with illnesses and

cancer is to celebrate Christmas in July.  There was a Hallmark movie, called,

“November Christmas” that also follows the concept that “Life is too short. . .”

From babies to a specific college freshman basketball player named Lauren, who

have dealt with cancer and deadly diseases and illnesses, we are sending out our

heartfelt wishes for healing and relief of pain. Wishes for families to keep up the

valiant work in making their lives comfortable and meaningful. This post is not

meant to depress readers, but to show how much others are willing to extend

themselves to make special ones ~ young people’s lives~  dreams come to fruition.

 

Brian Rutledge has property set up in Ohio, where he has “Santa’s Hideaway Hollow.”

His friend, from Mecca, Ohio, B. B. Simons arrived in July with his own rendition of

the Tow Mater, (the red truck which has a country accent), in the children’s animated

films from “Cars.” His Tow Mater had a large furry white beard that caught children’s

eyes. Their hearts and hopes to see Santa, fulfilled by Brian’s large-framed Santa,

dispensing not only “Ho Ho Ho’s” but a grand and festive meal, ice cream treats and

other wonderful holiday ‘treats,’ such as red tubular ‘balloon hats,’ with white tubular

‘beards,’ blown by one of the numerous volunteer elves.  Children wore these, along

with visiting a ‘nails and beauty’ salon, where colorful nails with glitter were ones

that little girls and boys displayed.

The red clad volunteer ‘elves’ arrived on horseback, in golf carts and other means of

transportation for this event, where three large tour buses with over 300 hundred

people, families and children unloaded. Some were shy, some were outgoing and

dancing to the beat at the drum circle, where a parent of two special children who

include one with  battling sickle cell anemia and hydrocephalus were there.

Toys and gifts given by donations from others, are specifically labeled, since Santa

Brian remembers the children who have come here a few times, along with messages

sent ahead from guests’ adult members, making sure the gifts fit the little ones’

requests. Santa’s Workshop is filled with wonder and excitement by all who enter.

 

The song, “It’s a Small World” (After All), reflects the true meaning of this place and

the holiday spirit.

 

There is a young college freshman basketball player, named Lauren Hill, who has been

battling a serious case of terminal cancer, found in an inoperable mass in her brain.

She came to Ohio’s Mt. St. Joseph University, fully intending to be a basketball ‘force

to reckon with,’ but her aggressive cancer has caused the NCAA to give permission

and there is a special game to watch, nationally played on Fox Sports today. It is held

at 2 p.m. so put Lauren and her team in your thoughts and prayers. The Cincinnati

location of Xavier College basketball courts, with Hiram University versus Lauren’s

team causes me to hold my breath and heart in a pinch. I just felt so much emotion,

reading this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday November 2, 2014.

The part that grabbed me and would not let me stop from writing this post, was the

doctors and family did not even expect Lauren to be able to wait for  the originally

scheduled November 15, 2014 game. Special arrangements between her Coach, Dan

Benjamin, and Hiram’s girls’ basketball Coach Emily Hays, plus the permission of

the NCAA meant this is like a ‘last wish granted’ to Lauren.  Everyone working to

make this ‘happen’ deserve: “Thanks!”

 

Go Mt. St. Joseph University Girls’ Basketball!

 

For those who are professionals in hospitals and doctors’ offices, all those who teach

and touch these young peoples lives, through paid positions and volunteering, all

are ones who get a ‘Big Thank You’ for making a difference in these families’ lives.

The ones who leave money to Hospice and “Make A Wish” foundation, along with

cancer research programs, also are in our hearts and minds.

 

Life, death, Christmas and basketball…

 

July 24, 1987: An Insurmountable Achievement

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A young girl, who was overweight and sometimes ridiculed, went off

to college. Even there, she did not get concerned about her rising

weight, her expanding waist line. Her health was failing, due to long

hours of studying and limited extra time to walk, exercise or worry

about her diet.

It was not until she reached the age of 40, that this wonderful woman

decided to take action! She started hiking and going on natural trails.

She made plans to achieve more miles, and she started to make progress

in her renewal of energy and her health revived, too.

At age 66, she climbed the highest peak in Continental United States,

Mt. Whitney.

How motivating!

How exciting!

What an exhilarating ride this story is taking!

You will be so much more inspired, when you get to the true climax

of this story. I am very proud of this woman! I wrote this all by myself

hoping to build to where you will hear waves of roaring instruments

or trumpets blasting…

This is the anniversary of her biggest climb:

A woman named Hulda Crooks climbed Mt. Fiji, in Japan when she was

91 years of age on July 24, 1987!

Way to go, Hulda!

I would like the songs, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Climb

Every Mountain” to be included in your heads while reading the final

chapter of her life.

Hulda Crooks reached the age of 101, dying in 1997.

What would have happened to her life, had she not reached the place

she could hardly walk or breathe?

It makes all of my little complaints and ‘molehills’ seem quite small!

All Kinds of “Fixes”

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In their third album, “X & Y,” songs and lyrics by Coldplay, there

is a lovely song called, “Fix You.” The British rock group was

founded in 1996. Two college friends, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland,

started together having met at University College, London, England.

Their group, also, includes Guy Berryman and Will Champion.

The breakdown of the musical group, Coldplay’s talents goes like this:

Guy Berryman is on acoustical guitar, Jonny Buckland plays percussion

instruments, Chris Martin is talented on the piano and Will Champion

plays the piano, also. They have contributed to the writing of many

of the group’s songs together.

The song, “Fix You,” has a slow, sweet pace with some sadness in the

lyrics. It is about someone who is broken, who doesn’t ‘know their worth.’

The singer is expressing the desire to fix that person. I find it a song

that ‘haunts’ me.

I almost included this song in my “Homeward Reflections” post. I felt

that my poem, partly inspired by the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Homeward

Bound,” could have been a ‘bookend’ to “Fix You.” (The album, “X & Y,”

came out in June, 2005 in the UK and Europe.)

Only the lyrics held me back. . .

I was a little bit disturbed by the implied arrogance of the title.

Also, the idea that someone felt capable of ‘fixing’ anyone other than

themself.

Probably, I was a little brought ‘down’ by my own personal inner feelings

of having possibly chosen, in past relationships, ‘broken people.’ Some

sense of inadequacy naturally derived from several failed marriages.

Was I saddened because this made me examine these feelings again?

Am I one who likes to play God and “fix” others?

I wanted that post to be positive and upbeat, so I left the Coldplay

song, “Fix You,” out of the post.

While talking to others, since that ‘home’ post, I found they thought

that I may be misinterpreting the words of the song.

I am also intrigued with analyzing the different ways that we use the

words, “fix,” “fixing/fixin’s,” and “fixed.” I have upon reflection,

decided I don’t like the lyrics, but still absolutely adore the song

by Coldplay’s artists, Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland (and others) in the

lyrics’ credits.

My favorite parts are the beginning stanzas and the repeated (3 x)

refrains.

Here are those ‘pieces’ and help me to understand what “fix you,” means

in this song:

“Fix You

“When you try your best,

but you don’t succeed.

When you get what you want,

but not what you need.

When you feel so tired,

but you cannot sleep.

Stuck in reverse…”

(“Tears” stanza)…

(“You’ll never know what you’re worth” stanza)…

Refrain:

“Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you.”

The definition of “fix” includes the ideas of

Repair,

Mend,

Prepare,

Make whole,

and many more definitions.

In my favorite part of looking at a word, I like to engage in ‘word play.’

It helps me to think in terms of lists of uses of “fix,” “fixing,” “fixin’s”

and “fixed.”

This may be challenging to understand if you are used to another language!

This also may confuse you, but variations of the word, “fix,” can be shown

in both negative and positive connotations.

POSITIVE uses of the words that have a root word of “fix:”

1. “fixer-upper” house- one that someone would purchase, make it better by

putting their hard efforts into. It is usually a first home, but sometimes

fixed up to become a rental or ‘turn around’ home. (Real Estate.)

2. “Fix-o-dent” can be quite helpful to keep elderly (and toothless) persons’

dentures in place. (Personal Hygiene.)

3. “fixin’s”- In the south, sometimes in the ‘hills’ people consider this

the delicious side dishes that go with the main meal. Cracker Barrel had

a section with this label for quite some time.

I especially like the expression, “all the fixin’s.” (Food Preparation.)

4. “fix up”- When you are getting fixed up to go out, your appearance

usually is improved!

Example: “My, you certainly look ‘fixed up’ for the party!”

Other variations can include, fixing one’s hair, makeup, and adjusting

your clothing.

Example: “She ‘fixed’ the length of her dress to cover her knees.”

5. “fix”- To prepare a dish or dinner.

Example: “My friend ‘fixes’ a great lasagna!”

6. “fix”- To set up a date, match-make a friend.

Example: “I ‘fixed’ my brother up with my high school friend.”

7. “fix”- To mend or repair, in the way of making whole.

Examples:

a. “I will do whatever it takes to ‘fix this’ and make you feel

comfortable.”

b. “He told her that he would ‘fix’ their relationship by building

her trust.”

8. “fix” or “fixed”- To have won the lottery or inherit money. Be ‘set.’

Example: “That family if ‘fixed’ for life!”

9. “fix” or “fixed”- To be focused on a goal. (Personal Development.)

Example: “He was ‘fixed’ on the Prize.”

10. “fix” or “fixed”- Body parts replaced or repaired. (Personal

Appearance.)

Examples:

a. “She had her eyes ‘fixed’ by laser surgery.”

b. “The famous actor had his facial structure ‘fixed’ after

the accident, through plastic surgery.”

11. “fixed”- A short term used when an animal is neutered,

spayed or castrated.

Example: “I had my dog ‘fixed.’

12. “fixin'”- When one is planning to be married or do an action,

they may express this as, “I’m fixin’ to get hitched!” (Slang.)

My personal bias, interpreting this definition, is that we should

have animals fixed, if we are to help with preventing over-

population of animals. Breeders are allowed to interpret this

usage as negative, since they may wish to produce champions or

make money selling ‘pure breds.’

NEGATIVE uses of the words derived from the root word, “Fix:”

1. “fix”- A person may use this word when ‘in a jam,'(or bind) or

otherwise need someone to bail himself/herself out of a bad situation.

Example: “I’m in a fix.” (Personal Behavior.)

2. “fix”- To repair something broken, attach two parts together with glue,

other things that “need to be fixed.” (The positive result of fixing,

done well, is its counterpart, the whole item.)

3. “fix”- To comply with a teacher or employer’s request to “Fix this.”

This means a mistake or problems lie in the presentation. (The positive

result of fixing this, may mean a better grade or a raise!)

4. “fix”- Need to have a drug, caffeine, sugar, tobacco or other mood

enhancer.

Example: “I need my caffeine ‘fix’ or I won’t be very productive.”

(Slang term, “I need a fix,” can be very negative…)

5. “fix”- This takes on a sinister meaning, in politics, hidden agendas

and mobster movies.

Example: “You better ‘fix’ this!”

(Interpersonal Relations.)

6. “fix”- In certain situations, meaning to change or ‘throw’

something.

Examples:

a. “The fight was ‘fixed.’

b. “School test scores have been found to be ‘fixed’ and may have to be

retaken.”

c. “The player ‘threw’ the game by fixing the bets based on a losing

score.”

7. “fix”- In slang or colloquial usage, can mean revenge or vengeful

thoughts or behaviors.

Example: “That’ll ‘fix’ her!” (Personal Behavior.)

8. “fix”- To adjust an item of clothing that needs to be.

Examples:

a. “Fix your fly!”

b. “Her bra straps would not stay up, so she had to continually

‘fix’ them.”

Both examples are easily turned into positives, when the person

adjusts their clothing item! (Personal Appearance.)

As far as the song, “Fix You,” goes, I feel that no one should think

they are solely responsible for another person’s decisions. I found

this out, through Al-Anon and also, marriage counseling. Accepting

and adjusting to the choices your partner makes, will help you to

stay together. Only when you feel that you cannot do so, then if

the other person doesn’t want to change and adapt to your ways,

then you may need counseling or separation, to reflect on whether

or not it is worth changing for the other person.

Certain phrasings don’t go over well with me, since I feel that in

most relationships the couple needs to work together to make decisions.

I prefer Kahlil Gibran’s image of two cypress trees, neither in each

other’s shadow. Here is a passage from the 1923 book, “The Prophet.”

This is how to be part of a couple, in marriage:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you…”

(Several passages follow)…

“And stand together, yet not too near…”

“The oak and the cypress grow

Not in each other’s shadow.”

When you leave a comment, please let me know if you think the intention of

this song, is positive or negative. Is it just me that worries about an

unspoken sense of negative control of the other’s being?

Peace, hope and safe travels

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I had just got off the phone from talking to my good and oldest

friend, Patrice, (that I still stay in touch with), who was preparing

for her annual trip to Charlevoix, Michigan. We both say sometimes

we should just call it, “Camelot.” Bill and I traveled up there once, to

see her sister’s renovated Castle Farms. The town is beautiful, with

Lake Charlevoix and the special houses that look like mushrooms are

there, too. The Castle is so breathtakingly Princess-like I complained

when we had to leave!

We did venture North ward to the Upper Peninsula, the locks, great

waterfalls, the towering evergreens, and Lake Michigan, too. I did

stop complaining, I think I was just missing my Patrice, who is

a source of comfort and joy. We saw all kinds of other fantastic

sights!

Pat had packed up her bags, shipped her papers and medications

up to Charlevoix, had completed a few different doctors’ visits,

and was relaxing. Pat’s sister, Linda, would be coming to take

them to the airport and she patiently listened to my nervous

energy and anxiousness about my Mom. She gave me comfort that

she had put my Mom on their church’s Prayer Chain, earlier in

the week.

We sang a little bit of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” to cheer us both up.

She’s ready to leave soon. My car is packed, ready to go. Stopping

to call her before I go post this story about Mom and plans made.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina, this has become Pat’s yearly routine.

She has only once come back to Long Beach to find roof damage, no

serious side effects that could be compared to the year the hurricane

disaster hit the gulf coast.

since she hates and fears the potential

She has always, ever since I met her freshman year in college,

imparted heavenly peaceful feelings to me. She is my ‘Zen.’

Patrice was my first and only “Maid of Honor.” We’ve shared

a lot and has known my Mom since 1978. Both her parents died,

while she went to live down there, taking care of her Mom first,

then her Dad. Living in their retirement home, now.

She gave me a lot of reassurances and reminders of how ‘spunky’

and ‘strong-willed’ my mother is. I am prepared to see her in a few

short hours.

Mom had been a little strange, had hurt her leg, twisting it a

little as she got out of the “Whistle Stop” restaurant booth.

My brother and I had decided to see what the place that had taken

over the old Cahoon Winery would look like, what their food would

be like and found the atmosphere and the prime rib dinners very

satisfying. Mom did not recognize it, due to its internal changes

but the outside, she had exclaimed,

“Dad painted this in acrylics, didn’t he?”

It was one of the many paintings my Dad had decorated the house

with, before my brother started to paint ‘real art.’

My brothers had said the twist that had produced pain and a

slight limp, would be ‘just fine,’ only a muscle strain and

not even a bruise on Easter, when I was with her in the

bathroom, looking at Mom’s leg.

I had sent cards, reminding her to use a heating pad. I had

added another suggestion to alternate with a bag of frozen peas,

and ‘Make sure you elevate it!’

When I had to leave on Easter, she had reassured me that she would

be okay and I hugged and kissed her. I always am torn between seeing

my grandchildren and children, and the possibility that Mom may be

not as well the next time I go up there.

As I was leaving, she told me she was not used to putting her feet up

to relax on her sofa. There is a nice, soft ottoman that is part of

her living room set.

Then, recently, I was filled with some trepidation, when my brother

called during a work day. He had left a message saying he had called

an ambulance, met my Mom at the hospital.

She ended up staying the three days, that allows to have her Medicaid

‘kick in,’ along with having a battery of tests. Not many medications,

not really any results.

They did not understand why she was ‘lethargic’ and rather

‘non-responsive’ but once the I.V’s kicked in, she had ‘rallied,’

was renewed and ‘herself’ again.

I should be grateful for small mercies, knowing that she could have

had something more seriously wrong. There is a knot by her knee,

that is healing. She will have ten days of therapy, visiting in

her senior living apartment.

I talked to Mom for an hour this week, she shared with me a sort of

funny explanation. She knew my brother was coming to get her for

dinner, she had fallen asleep taking a nap. She was wearing a t-shirt

and underwear. When the knock at the door came, she had called out,

“Who’s there?”

My brother had answered, so she thought the quickest way to get to the

door was to ‘crawl.’ This is her explanation of what she did.

Yup, Mom crawled to the door to greet my brother, on her knees.

That ‘set off alarms, in my mind,’ too!

My brother said,

“It’s locked, Mom!”

She replied,

“I’m on my way, just a minute!”

She stretched and unlocked the door, remaining on all fours.

He looked at her, then looked at her dog, Nicki, who was sitting

beside her.

I am sure this was quite a shock to his system!

Nicki usually is nervous when people come in, ‘whimpering.’ Even

familiar people and family members. Mom moved to a chair, climbing

on it to sit down.

Anyway, with much reassurances that she was fine, he called

downstairs and found that my very polite mother had received

three days in a row, calls from the front desk, asking if

she was ‘all right.’

Each time, my Mom had said “I’m fine, thank you,” hanging up.

They did not ask why she didn’t go to the dining room nor did

they offer to send her up a dinner. This will be discussed in

the later part of June, when my brother can be there, along

with staff and the social worker. The ‘protocol’ was told to

us, that if someone did not come to the dining room, (without

cancelling their dinner, as sometimes people do to eat out with

their family) they would send someone up to check on them.

This is why my brother my Mom had appeared lethargic, almost

comatose and delusional! She probably had eaten a tablespoon of

peanut butter and endless cups of coffee. She is not one to

convince easily to use the microwaveable meals and other food

items that we put in her refrigerator.

By the way, Mom’s little dog is staying with her ‘sister’ who

is a half dachshund and half beagle, nine years younger, her big

brother, Hamlet, who is a golden retriever and her huge sister,

Fiona, who is a Newfoundland, at my brother and sister in law’s

house, across the street.

My brother and sister in law, are heading this weekend to Bethany

Beach, Maryland. They will be taking the big dogs, Hamlet and Fiona,

leaving the little ones, Nicki (my Mom’s shih tzu) and her other

one, she had to give up to move into the senior apt., Bella for

my brother to watch, take care of and feed. I look forward to his

coming over after he works, plays volleyball or tennis, along with

his other activities. I picked up a few movies, older ones for Mom

and I to watch and action ones where the three of us will watch.

I am filled with less trepidation, just sadness, because I am

not sure how Mom will “be” over the weekend. I had sent a couple

of “Get Well” cards this week. Unless she made it to the mail box

she knows from my big letters on her white board on the kitchen

wall and her calendar over the sink, “Robin will be here for

Memorial Day weekend, on May 23- May 26.”

I saved the rather amusing “Mom’s version of what happened before

she got taken in the ambulance” for you to possibly chuckle at!

In her recounting of the crazy, cuckoo, some would say, “Did you

lose some of your marbles?” moments, I gathered that she was not,

in the least, embarrassed about her state of undress, when greeting

my brother.

By showing a fine sense of humor, she had told me, ‘right off

the bat:’

“Hello, Robin! I am fine, I was in the hospital and got a few

meals along with tests. I hate to tell you this, but I would

not have passed the ‘dining room dress code’ the other day,

when your brother came to get me to take me out to dinner! I

had no pants on!”

Last summer, the signs to enter the dining room had first said,

“No shorts allowed in the Dining Room.”

I had inquired of the seating hostess, “Why did this happen? Surely,

no one would wear ‘short shorts’ in the dining room.”

I had ‘capri shorts’ on which ‘passed inspection’ for dining that

summer evening.

She had leaned over and whispered to me,

“A few gentlemen came to the dining room wearing boxer shorts!”

She had added in a rather horrified tone,

“And one’s overlapped fly, didn’t exactly overlap!”

Later last summer, 2013, apparently someone had come in their

bathrobe to dinner!

A new sign had been posted upon my next monthly visit:

“Proper Attire Required in the Dining Room.

NO shorts.

No pajamas, robes, boxer shorts or otherwise

bed clothes allowed.

Men and women must wear pants.”

I laughed (back then) when it had become such a wild and long

list, almost like the silly Jean Kerr’s “Please Don’t Eat the

Daisies” book where she had forgotten to tell the children in

the New York apartment that request.

I had stopped worrying about my Mom’s mental state when she made

that joke about proper dining room apparel. But, when she said

she wanted to ‘do all the things we usually do, like go to the

grocery store and eat out, at least twice!’ I had become rather

concerned. Hopefully, she and her walker will be just fine and

we will have a grand old time up in Cleveland, ‘tooling around

like we usually do!’

Hope you all have a happy Memorial Day!

Hope there are lots of good times with family or friends.

A few moments of meditation and memories for loved ones, too.

Enjoy your three-day weekend!

May it be safe and peaceful.

Something different from loneliness

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A life cut tragically short, by a car accident, holds meaning

and longevity. Marina Keegan, age 22, had just graduated only

five short days earlier from Yale University. Her promising

career had been jump started being hired by the magazine, “The

New Yorker.” She was soon to be considered a staff writer.

Marina’s family collected, posthumously, stories, essays and her

journal entries that ranged from serious subjects to silly ones.

Marina’s imagination created enough ‘life’s work,’ to publish in

a book called, “The Opposite of Loneliness.” (It has nine short

stories and nine essays.)

If you wish to read about her May 26, 2012 accident where she

and a young man’s car ‘rolled on Route 6,’ you can find an article

on the internet. Marina was from the town of Wayland, Massachusetts.

The article was posted in the “Cape Cod Today” newspaper. The book

has a forward written by one of Marina’s Yale professors, Anne

Fadiman.

One of Marina’s profound thoughts on the subject of her book,

(which I hope that in the after life one knows that you are

a published author!) was that the English language doesn’t

exactly have a word that is the opposite of loneliness.

While Marina was alive she showed her buoyancy and happiness

to others surrounding her. She mentioned that there was

enjoyment in togetherness. There are other facets in this

collection that sound ‘wiser than her age.’ Her question

that resonated with me was:

“What inhabits the place in your ‘soul’ that is the complete

opposite of loneliness?”

This book is worthy of reading and inspiring to see what

Marina’s thoughts were. Also, to imagine all the words still

left to be said, had she lived past her 22nd year. It seemed to

me, if one could picture a bulletin board with a collage of

pictures that represented her thoughts, it would be very exciting

and beautiful. It would have love and heartbreak, whales and

music. She had written a play that Yale actors had performed in

called, “Utility Monster.” She was in the middle of writing a

musical.

The job that was waiting for her at “The New Yorker,” indicates

what a fine student and someone who must have made a quite a

remarkable first impression.

Marina’s family should take comfort that she must have felt some

of her dreams had come to fruition. There must have been excitement

and a sense of anticipation at that ‘first job’ after college.

Another part of the book made me feel that no one should count

on having a tomorrow. Think big! Think outside the box! My

thoughts kept coming back to Marina would have made an excellent

author to read, her stories and essays are vibrant and meaningful.

Her volumes of thoughts, hand written in notebooks and journals

show her commitment to writing. Her mind lived in ‘worlds’ where

others may never have tread.

Makes me appreciate that I still am here.

We all should remember how short and fleeting our lives are.

Time is flying by, our clocks possibly already ‘set’ to the

last minute we will have a chance to say something, in our

words and through our writings.

In a short 3 line poem that in is the Preface of Marina’s

book, these words are given:

“Bygones

Do you wanna’ leave soon?

No, I want enough time to be in love with everything.

And, I cry because everything is so beautiful

And so short.”

A World Set Apart

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First impressions, in my profession as an Early Intervention Specialist,

included the homes we visited, the families we met, the therapists’

teamwork, and how to integrate appropriate lessons for babies from

age 3 months up until they turned 3 years old.

I was hired to perform the role of ‘facilitator’ or teacher. I enjoyed

every minute of those two years, from Fall, 1999 up until Fall, 2002.

I was busily transferring and evolving from my four years of being

an Activities Director into an EI Specialist. I was taking under-

graduate courses at Columbus State University, learning what were

the principle educational practices, strategies and current techniques.

Although a parent of three ‘typically developing’ children, helped

to prepare me, I had never been a teacher of this particular age level.

When I met Hunter, it was August, 1999. I was still in the “Orientation

mode” of my new job. His mother was going through a divorce, attractive,

living in a beautiful home where her daughter, April, was all things

‘girly,’ including ballet, My Little Ponies and her Princess-themed

decorations in her bedroom. April was like a ‘ray of sunshine’ for both

her mother and brother. She immediately made a positive impression on

us, by showering a lot of love and hugs on her baby brother. Hunter

would not smile or watch her, but he seemed to kick more while she was

in his presence. (Not developing ‘eye contact’ is a primary sign of

Autism.)

Rhonda’s son was quite the opposite from April, in his developmental

stages. Rhonda described his not wanting to breast feed, some failure

to thrive reactions to not wanting to suck on a bottle, either. She

told us she had felt overwhelmed, until she tried her 10th type of

bottle nipple and binky (or pacifier.) The baby had cried constantly,

reminding her of a friend’s baby who had colic.

Hunter, when we met him at age 3 months, was not outgoing, not responding

to many stimuli, it seemed. His overall, ‘outward’ appearance was of a

beautiful baby boy. Hunter was eating, sleeping and crying sometimes, but

being her second child, April instinctively had ‘known’ something was

‘wrong.’

Hunter’s physician had recently handed her a Morrow County flyer about

the building known as Whetstone River Family and Children Center and

its services within. It outlined a series of questions, that if your

child were not doing these age appropriate actions or stages of baby

development, there may be concerns. A nurse would come to the family’s

home and carry out the next step of the process of identifying needs

for treatment. The pediatrician recommended Rhonda call the nurse’s

phone number on the flyer. She set up a home visit where the nurse could

check out the baby’s weight regularly and help with some of her feeding

concerns. She also highly recommended calling the Early Intervention

phone number that was also included in the pamphlet.

In my new ‘place of work’ our building ‘housed’ offices for Social

Workers, Therapists, Big Brother/Big Sister Program, four classrooms

of integrated learning with typically developing children as ‘peers’

and children with varied special needs or delays. There was also, a

daycare center and two Head Start classrooms.

At the time, (Summer, ’99) the special needs adults were also located

within the building with a great group of one to one aides. Their ‘leader’

was Rita and her ‘assistant leader,’ Barb. They were busy receiving orders

for caning chairs, folding hats for Steak and Shake restaurants and other

special business orders for hand woven wine baskets from up on Lake Erie.

Walk-ins would ask for woven baskets of all sizes, once they viewed the

lovely examples. This whole ‘workshop’ ended up being moved to a

different location.

During the school year, Rita and Barb continued to teach the young

adults, education lessons in subject matters along with “Life Skills”

lessons in a classroom in our building. The site of Whetstone Industries

was a much better place, since the business had grown in leaps and bounds.

I studied and learned about two different programs that were being used,

in schools and learning centers to help bring out children with Autism

and ones who are considered “on the Spectrum.” I was able to understand

the positive and negative aspects and results of an ABA program versus

a Floortime Program. ABA is based on simple tasks, giving a reward and

then moving to another task. The A represents the first action and the

B is the reward, while another application of the A will be given. It is

actually a lot like B.F. Skinner’s behavioral analysis programs. (Not

that children are like ‘salivating dogs!’) Consistency, as in all actions

and lessons involving children, is very important in this ABA program.

Floortime was another program that seemed to reap benefits with children

with Autism. This was more of a freeplay, with some guided decisions made

by the one to one aides, playing with some ‘agenda’ or plans made for the

child.

Both ABA and Floortime were involved in Whetstone’s approach to learning

within a ‘center based’ grouping, involving only the children who were

tested and identified with Autism. These same children would also, spend

time within our classroom. Often, we would start our Early Intervention

class with freeplay, anyway, so that went along with Floortime, while

as long as the children seemed to be participating or at least, not

screaming, they would stay in our group setting. We would have story

time, circle time, crafts and fine motor activities and center time.

After two years of being an EI Specialist, I chose to apply to be one

of the Preschool Special Ed teachers at Whetstone. I felt very lucky

to be chosen, since I was in 2002, 47 years old. I would have to be

interviewed and selected for the Master’s degree class at OSU, while

I did have a coworker find she could just apply to Ashland University.

I was hoping to go to Marion’s branch of OSU, while some courses would

take me to ‘main campus.’ The thought of driving farther north, since

I already was making a 45 minute drive daily to Mt. Gilead, did not

thrill me, to go to Ashland… it would have added another 45 minute

drive away from home.

If you are a parent or teacher,you may know other ways that are

currently practiced. The new studies, through research that scientists

and doctors conduct includes something called, “Affinity Therapy.”

There is a Dr. Palfrey, who has been studying and recording research

on this new practice.

To summarize progress in the two years I worked with Hunter:

We had found that Hunter was one who responded to his home visits

and group sessions well. He was helped by our suggestions to his

mother, Rhonda, who started to take him to public places, before

the crowds would gather, enrolled him in a Food Study program at

OSU, where they try to break food habits that have been established

by the family. Rhonda really missed him, since she could only watch

outside the glass windowed/mirrors, but Hunter was, at age 3 years old,

being given ABA style lessons in incorporating more of a variety

of foods. The children we met in our EI classroom, and later, in

my Preschool classroom, with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, would

tend to not eat foods with any kind of texture or colors. Bland

and soft were their foods of choice. The OSU program was ‘free’

since Rhonda applied for a scholarship, and Hunter ‘passed’ his

overnights for 5 days, being ‘let go’ before the whole week had

been used. Rhonda was shocked to see how quickly he adapted to

the regimen of trying foods, admitting that when Hunter ‘shrieked,’

she would ‘cave in’ to his wishes. She had worried about his

starving ‘to death’ for the 7 days. She was able to hug him and

give him a bedtime story, but all the rest of the time, she was

an observer on the other side of the mirror! He was able to join

a preschool classroom, full time after one year of a split schedule

where Hunter went to a classroom of children with Autism, in the

morning and in the afternoon an integrated special needs one. He

went on to kindergarten, with his IEP including a one to one aide,

and later, in third grade the one to one aide was discontinued.

While watching CBS Sunday Morning Show, (5/4/14), I was happy to

learn more about new ways children and adults were responding with

therapies, interventions and techniques concerning Autism. The people

who are on the Spectrum, were also being discussed. I had heard, from

a person who writes about her son, on a blog, that he was using a

facilitated computer program. She had shared that he was able to

express himself, by typing his thoughts on the computer. She says

he is a ‘typical’ hungry, self-centered teenager!

The Sunday interview was with a couple, Ron and Cornelia Suskind, who

had discovered their son’s life had been influenced and ‘directed’ by

his watching Disney classic animated children’s movies.

The book to read on this is called, “Life, Animated.” It is interesting

to know their son, Owen’s story. Ron told the interviewer (and at home

audience) that his son was a perfectly normal baby, from birth until

age 3 years old. He became withdrawn and silent, all of a sudden, without

any known reason. No doctor or specialist can explain, but he was in

his own little ‘world.’

Ron and Cornelia found that he was soothed and comforted by watching

Disney animated children’s films. They were used to his silence and

did many things to enhance his life. Owen had nutritionists, therapists,

and strong emotional support. The physical and occupational therapy

lessons included giving him a sense of balance, sensory perception

and overall health. Speech therapy was not able to draw results with

his oral participation.

One day, Owen blurted out a complete thought while watching a movie.

His father, Ron, grabbed a puppet of Iago, using an ‘actor’s’ or

character’s voice, so as not to scare him and to keep him engaged

in talking. They had their first conversation ever!

Owen has helped his parents to understand that he learned how to

sound out words and read, by reading the credits at the end of the

films they showed him repeatedly. He mentions the ‘grips’ who are

the background people who help get the sound recorded.

Other lessons he learned were on how you should feel, live and act.

The characters that Owen related to the most were not the leading

‘heroes’ but their sidekicks.

Owen can imitate the sounds, accents and tones of voice of different

characters he would view in the films. His favorite one is that of

Merlin, when he is transformed into a fish, in “The Sword in the

Stone.” This film, Owen says, gives you the message to:

“Try new things in the world.”

Both Simba, (“Lion King”) as an adult and the Beast in “Beauty and

the Beast” taught Owen to:

“Be brave and overcome obstacles.”

Explaining the character, Aladdin, Owen expressed these thoughts:

“Aladdin wants to show he is more than a nobody. (Implying, as

a person with autism, who was silent for a long time, he felt

like a ‘nobody.’) Aladdin was a ‘diamond in the rough.’

Owen attends college and has a girlfriend now. He has opened

a “Disney Club” where the young adults watch Disney movies

and discuss their feelings, lessons learned and the ‘moral of

the stories.’ His parents observed Owen, recently, being the leader

of this college extracurricular activity, with tears in their eyes.

The CBS program, did record this and it is really wonderful to see

how confident Owen is in front of a classroom of his peers. The group

sometimes watch movies together, along with sing the Disney songs.

They feel welcome and part of their own group.

There is, by the way, a great documentary called, “Autism is a World,”

about a college student who liked to play with spoons and water, while

she was a child. This routine ‘reward’ was used to get her through her

studies and education. The real person, now an adult, is Sue Rubin.

This fascinating film includes footage of Sue inside a college classroom.

It was Oscar nominated, back in the early 2000’s.

Another interesting character, a real woman who created intricate ways

for cattle and livestock to travel through different patterns before they

got slaughtered is, Temple Grandin. She studied the way cows moved, from

childhood on. She is a person who would possibly be considered to have

Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high level of intelligence but still a

person with Autism. If you see the movie, “Temple Grandin,”it is a very

moving story, leaving you with a profound respect for people who have

the courage to work with children who have this and those who have it, too.

There is a wonderful tribute to Temple’s mother. If you did not catch the

Oscars when Temple stood up to proudly show the world she was autistic, you

missed a great moment in time! Claire Danes gave an outstanding performance

as Temple and Julia Ormond did an awesome job as her mother.

Temple is also an author of several books and an engineer, besides being a

professor. Her incredible story should be encouraging to people who are

afraid their relative may not be able to succeed. Temple Grandin did,

despite her challenges as a person living with Autism.

she

was an educated scientist and professor of animal husbandry at Colorado

State University. Her mother’s perseverance and determination gave her

the keys to learning, using flash cards.

My teacher assistant, Maggie and I had prepared a wonderful place

for children and babies to come and be ‘tested’ by the therapy team

consisting of a Physical Therapist (and her PTA), an Occupational

Therapist, (and an OTA), a Speech Therapist and a Child Psychologist.

Once we did initial family and child assessments on Hunter, we had

recommended his coming with his parent or parents, to WRFCC.

The first names of the ones who I came to know and love were Phillip,

Savannah, Elijah, Leslie, among many…

It was only the beginning…

Lessons Learned

Standard

When my mother’s parents, born in Sweden and Germany,

lived in New York City, intergenerational living was

not only common, but served valuable purposes. I liked

two black and white movies, from the era of having

different family members living together. One is called,

“I Remember Mama,” and the other is, “A Tree Grows in

Brooklyn.”

Just in case you like to read the books first: “A Tree

Grows in Brooklyn,” was written in 1943 by Betty Smith.

It is a great read, along with the 1945 movie adaptation

being very well done. “I Remember Mama” was first an

engrossing book called, “Mama’s Bank Account,” written

by Kathryn Forbes, in 1943. A few years later, the book

was translated into a play in 1948, by John Van Druten.

When I was growing up, I liked to hear stories of my

parents’ and grandparents’ past. The history of their

love stories are here on my blog, three generations’

worth!

In Delaware, Ohio a man named Phil Powers was a junior

at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1940. He was painting

the walls in a dormitory called, “Austin Manor.” It is

located, still to this day, beside a beautiful garden

and Music Hall, both of the same name of Monnett. Not

to be confused with the impressionistic painter, Monet.

Phil Powers would never have imagined that he would

someday live in this dorm in his eighties with his

wife, Pat. He may not have even imagined who would be

his bride, at the time, daydreaming while painting.

Nationally, there are universities who serve and reduce

their rates for people over 50; or over retirement age.

The University Linked Retirement Community system is in

place at Penn State and Notre Dame, along with over 50

more colleges and universities. If you are considering

this richly diverse living situation you may check out

ULRC’s in your area of the United States. I wonder if

Europe or other countries have such a wonderful system?

OWU’s Austin Manor is the only one of its kind to offer

rooms for persons of any age, as long as they are enrolled

in at least one class. The title, “Dorms Beyond the Norm,”

was featured, in a 2008 article, in “AARP Magazine.”

When I toured the Austin Manor for their Christmas Open

House last December, I was so impressed with the fellowship

and open mutual admiration between the generations living

there. The rooms looked so clean, decorated and inviting,

that I kept the brochure about future living arrangements

while pursuing interests in diverse subject matters.

Phil and Pat Powers were not present at this Open House,

I did not ask where they were, if they were still residents

there. I was just amazed that their story, its profound

message of “never stop learning,” made a big impact on me!

The rooms are arranged so that there are two bedrooms, a

small living area. kitchen and bathroom. Enough space to

compare to an apartment.

The residents in this unusual dormitory all pitch in to

have Halloween “Trick or Treating” for neighboring homes

with children. They also have a wonderful, large garden

with almost every vegetable included in the neat and

orderly rows. The residents have regular potlucks,

gatherings and guest speakers in their community room.

The dorm also allows public meetings to be held, if

reserved ahead of time.

Intergenerational interaction allowed children in many

big cities to gather around tables together. Listening

to their elders spinning tales of where they had come

from and learning stories to be passed on from generation

to generation. Along with these positive experiences, there

were shared family recipes and saved expenses.

Pockets of different ethnic groups had their own grocery

stores, their own meetings and sometimes even became known

as “Little Italy” or “China Town.” The benefits for college

students of the same way of living, learning about others

from different parts of the country and ages, allows more

freedom to become accepting adults.

You know that this positive influence would not be every

college student’s ‘cup of tea’ but choosing to offer this

building to juniors and seniors is a great idea! Who knows?

Maybe the elderly will enjoy sharing a cup of tea with the

student.

In a comment from the 2008 article in AARP, Pat Powers gave

this opinion:

It’s the best move we’ve made (to live in Austin Manor). You

don’t have that feeling of everyone being old and talking

about their ailments. Instead, they discuss classes and

other interests.”

I am like the Powers, not wishing to stay stagnant or

sit on a porch in my rocking chair too soon!

Hurray for intergenerational living situations!

Life should move forward, always expanding our minds and

lives, creating power within networking and generations.