Category Archives: Fred Rogers

“Saint” Karen

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My friend, Karen P., was a one-to-one aide at my special needs school, long before I

‘nabbed’ her to become my teaching assistant. She had what I call ”the patience of Job,”

with a little child (age 3) with autism. With this child she worked by using both sign

language and verbal cueing. She learned also, through workshops and the therapists, to

use positive reinforcers. His special pleasure was playing with tractors. Casually, you may

have heard the word, ‘fixation,’ when his parents talked about his tractors. He was quite

an independent child, which was hard to explain to his parents that his ‘shrieking’ was

not because of his being ‘rebellious.’ I would consider Justin’s intelligence level to be

found somewhere on the Asperger’s Spectrum; as ‘higher functioning.’

 

When I think of friends, I remember that old Girl Scout song, which was a ’round’ which

repeated itself. It goes like this:

“Make new friends, but keep the old,

One is silver and the other is gold.”

 

The nine years I had dear “Saint” Karen by my side, in the ‘trenches, and sometimes

taking all the dirty work, quite literally, make her my Gold Standard of Friend. You will

think we are quite ‘sick in the head’ when I tell you that we still roar with laughter about

one Christopher who threw chairs across the room, we felt he was ‘possessed!’ We were,

in our private moments , just barely able to contain ourselves. Our favorite way to make

light of Christopher, was to say to one another,

“We know that face will be on the “Wanted” posters in the Post Office one day, we just

know it!”

Also, the dirty work, was meant (by me, I reassured her when she came to be my assistant)

to be split fairly. When there were diapers which needed to be changed, we took turns.

But another ‘sick’ sense of humor moment was when “Miss Karen” was stuck with ‘her turn’

AND THE BOY HAD DIARRHEA.

But apparently Jonathan did not just do it in his pants. It went down his leg and into his

cowboy boots! When the expression is “Up to your neck in ‘shit,'” for Karen it had been,

“Up to her armpits!” Poor Karen did not feel well the rest of the day, like she could not

seem to get the odor off her hands. She was incessantly washing until she took the vanilla

air freshener spray and soaked her clothes and hands with it.

 

I would like to tell you a short history of Karen’s life, since she overcame a lot of tragedies

to come out wonderfully.  She taught me many things more than I was able to teach her.

At age 8, Karen lost her mother to an accident. Three of her grandparents were deceased,

the one who was left, did not want her. She was raise by her two elderly aunts. When her

Dad came back and forth into her life, she had to adjust to a wide variety of women, his

alcoholism,  and some verbal abuse. She always ended up calling her aunts, begging them

to come and save her.

She got good grades, wore clean but plain clothes. She met her husband, her only “love

of her life,” while going to community college to be a nursing assistant (STNA). He was

at a bar, he was ogling her, sometimes making loud comments and trying to get her

attention. She was 19 years old, she certainly wasn’t attracted to this wild motorcycle

man,  who appeared much older than she, at the time. The summer she met him, he

pursued her, found her almost each time she and her friends were out in Marion, Ohio.

Karen used a dramatic way to describe Dan: “He was relentless!”

Karen is strong willed, she claims to have broke him of his ‘pool gambling habit’ and

his drinking. Dan, on the other hand, gives her credit, saying that a ‘good woman like

Karen’ can cure anything. They have been married for forty years, raised three kids

and three grandkids.  A fourth grandchild, from their son and his wife, was born this

year. So, this was a new beginning for their adventures, continuing the family saga.

 

On Friday, October 24, 2014, we got together and laughed until we cried. We ate

at the local restaurant, Old Bag O’ Nails. We had numerous refills on our beverages

and ate our ‘fish and chips’ slowly.  We had been apart for 2 years, trying to adjust

our busy lives and schedules to fit our friendship in.

 

Here are some of the subjects covered while we were there for almost four hours:

 

1. Grandchildren, of course.

 

2. “CSI” and cast changes over the years.

 

3. Hilarious episode of “According to Jim,” when both men’s clothes were blown off

when the water pipes in basement explode.

 

4. My divorced husband, what he was ‘up to.’ (She had been with me through 9 years,

through thick and thin,  and only one year, while I was single.) Still no car, working

close to his apartment. Got online PhD in Religion.

 

5. “Camel toes,” when the younger teachers taught us what this expression meant.

 

6. Condoms. My first “Secret Santa” gift as a single woman, in multiple hues and sizes.

 

7. Changing over from my old way of wearing “granny panties,” and our trip to Victoria

Secret. (We had multiple shopping trips for supplies, but our trip to Tuttle Mall was

our favorite.)

 

8. Barney, my famous bachelor gym teacher, who showed up my first Single Spring

Break, in a bathing suit, with a towel and a bottle of baby oil, in hand. We ‘cracked up

all over again when we remembered his announcing, “I’m your cabana boy, Robin.”

I had insisted all the female teachers,  some who were in their twenties,  go out

with me dancing once a month. Somehow, when we ran into Barney, they fell in

love with him. (He looks a lot like Tony Danza, seriously.) Karen was sorely

disappointed in the fact we are not still in ‘touch.’

 

9. The ‘girls’ insisted we attend the football game when Barney coached the

opposition; our main rival. He was on the sidelines when his team played

“our school’s” team.

The Speech Language Pathologist and Trina, who talked me into drinking before

the game. We ran into the Superintendent and hugged him. We ran into 2 parents

and also, a school board member. We found the other girls in the bleachers,

climbing over people to get to them.

 

10. Which of the ‘girls’ have gotten married, which have babies and who is still

single, besides me.

 

Karen will always be my “Hero.”

 

Fred Rogers, Presbyterian minister and the nice man wearing the sweater on,

“Mister Roger’s Neighborhood:”

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.

It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’

Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people, my heroes.”

 

 

One Who Served and Many Who Serve

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Today, May 21, 2014 is a day set aside for “Wait Staff Apreciation.”

By celebrating servers in the food industry we may improve their

self images and produce great service. It is always a wise choice

to be friendly to the ones, going in the kitchen to pick up your food

orders! Smile!

So, please appreciate all those men and women who try valiantly to fill

your food orders. They do, most of the time, try to act pleasantly and

give you time to look over the menu!

Tomorrow, is a day to remember Mr. Rogers. Fred started his long run of

being a kind neighbor to the younger ones in our world, back on May 22,

1967. Now, Wikipedia doesn’t have the correct date, as I found this in a

reliable source!

His show, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” continued until 2001. Fred

passed away in 2003. In his lifetime, he received the Presidential

Medal of Honor, over 40 other special awards and the Peabody Award.

I felt Fred’s gentle soul, soft spoken ways, his daily routines were

quite soothing and comforting to my toddler children. I realize that

these days, with high technology and such fast-paced lives, most of

the small ones would find his show, “Boring!” I liked his changing

his jacket into a sweater, his puppets in the Land of Make Believe

and his male role model in a society, that even when my children

were little, did not have many male adults on television that tried

to ‘reach them.’

Another man who served his country well, is my good friend and coworker,

Melvin. He was walking out of the building today, telling me a funny

story about the Jack Russell terrier that lives next door to him, out

in Delaware County. It was a great one, where I wished (and he does, too)

that he could have captured this on film!

The story of his neighbor’s dog, “Ignat” is interesting and such an

amazing story that you may not quite believe it. I would not, if I

didn’t know this fine man, Melvin, who served his country from 1975

until 1997. His Army days have been fun to listen to, including his

serving in Germany, (maybe you remember he bought me a special wine

that they serve on the streets of Germany, warmed up in little cups

for the shoppers at Christmas?) You may remember his annual trips to

meet his Army buddies and the time he paid for a bunch of them to

have lobsters and crabs in Massachusetts. Also, he is the man who I

‘chase’ and he ‘chases’ me, around the area on the second floor of

our warehouse, called the Mezzanine.

Before you ask, ‘Why aren’t you thinking about Melvin as a future partner,

Robin?’ I will tell you that he is a very devoted boyfriend and lives

with a woman who has had serious surgery, sometimes he has cleaned out

colostomy bags or helped bathe her.

The best parts of Melvin, are his incredible patience and heart!

Oh, and having served as a cook, he is an outstanding guest at our work

potlucks! Melvin is getting geared up to be the caterer of a good pal’s

daughter’s high school graduation. He was out, recently, pricing pork.

I may or may not have told you, a weird thing is, most places don’t

keep the skin on the pig! So, he had a ‘heck’ of a time locating one

that he could put on a pit!

Another part of my ‘verification’ of his abilities to not only work hard;

but be truthful is that he has always ‘called them like he sees them,’ no

matter what. In any conversation, whether it is about “Duck Dynasty,”

musical tastes or whether or not he likes a certain movie or song, he

will impart his ‘wisdom.’ I sometimes will include him in my ‘lunch time’

survey of opinions to include in my stories about work.

Anyway, Melvin was out in the yard, looking around the barn where he had

seen a large, lumbering raccoon go into. He also was looking out at the

field, where he had just seen a young doe. He was smiling, while recounting

about seeing the white tail bobbing up and down, as it leaped over some of

the remains of weeds that had grown up in the neighboring farmer’s fields.

He says, that he shouted to “Ignat” (possibly the shortened name for

Ignatious?) We cannot figure out why this dog has this name and Melvin

is sure of it, since he has bent down to feed him a dog biscuit and

read the little brass circle that holds his name. Melvin calls him

“Little Big Man,” in remembrance of Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of a

wizened, stooped version of a Native American and why that makes him

think of that, I am not sure…

Anyway, I digress again!

Back to the rest of Melvin’s story, he whistled to the neighbor’s

roaming dog, and he would not come to him. He was gazing off into the

distance at the doe, sure enough, there was a blurring motion of the

dog, as it took chase after the doe. Melvin says that they would go

‘aways,’ the dog’s energy would start to wane, and “Ignat” would slow

down. The doe, he insists, would slow down to ‘wait’ for the dog to

catch his breath. Melvin insists that the doe even stopped from entering

the nearby woods, turning her direction to head a different direction!

“Ignat” would then zigzag and head off, speeding up to catch the doe!

Melvin says he would ‘swear on a Bible’ that this was a true incident!

When he got tired of seeing if “Ignat” would catch the doe, he looked

up at the window of his barn and lo and behold!

Another ‘minor miracle’ occurred!

Melvin saw four little baby raccoons with their tiny little paws up

on the window pane! He did not see that for too long, since the Mama

Raccoon must have ‘shooed them away from the window.’

“Melvin, are you sure, double sure, that you aren’t pulling my leg

now?”

He repeated the part about ‘swearing on the Bible.’

Wasn’t this more than enough to entertain me,

and you, today?