Category Archives: Family

Last Week

Last week was most eventful.

Monday was our fifty-third wedding anniversary.

Tuesday was my seventy-eighth birthday.

Wednesday, I lost a daughter.

At least that’s how I thought of Patsy Terrell. When I told her I adopted daughters and wanted her as one, she didn’t seem to mind at all. We were in touch via Facebook as often as I was in touch with my eldest daughter in Florida.

Patsy and I met at a memoir workshop hosted by the Hutchinson Library, I believe in the fall of 2010, if memory serves. I was amazed that this beautiful young woman would choose to spend time with an old lady. But she approached me about having lunch together, which we did at Jillian’s.

When I asked her what made her want to know me, she said she liked having a wide range of friends. She knew that not everyone is like everyone else and that having friends of all persuasions can beautifully enrich one’s life.

We were very different – and very alike – in many ways. She was in her forties; I in my seventies. She was outgoing, attending virtually every public event in her reach; I was (and still am) constrained to a much narrower social life for a variety of reasons.

But we were both curious, life-long learners, with teachers’ hearts. She loved to travel, and I traveled with her vicariously, as she wrote about it and shared pictures on line.

Shortly after we met, Harvest House published my devotional gift book, As Grandma Says. Patsy asked if she could make a trailer for it. She wanted the practice. Just like everything she created, it was beautifully done.

Patsy enriched my life immeasurably.

I know that I am not the only one who misses her dreadfully.




Filed under Family, Society

Big Brother? I Don’t Have One

Lori’s blog got me to thinking.  Having no siblings, I never had to deal with tormenting from an older one or nuisance from a younger. It was the ultimate impoverishment of my formative years. But having been so impoverished, I was highly privileged in many other ways.

First there was Attitie.  Actually her name was Ethel, but my infant tongue could not manage Aunt Ethel, so she became Attitie. She was a devout Christian. One of my earliest memories (I had to be less than three) is singing with her to the theme song of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour on the radio. Her radio was cathedral shaped and stood on a three-legged table on the east wall of their living room.

We’d end the song with “Hallelujah, Jesus is mine.”  And then we’d argue back and forth.

“He’s mine”

‘No, he’s mine…’  At that age I didn’t realize he could belong to both of us.


Then there was Doctor.  He was H. W. Graves, community physician for the rural town in which I was reared. He attended my birth, stood as godfather at my infant baptism in the Lutheran Church, and functioned as my surrogate father til we lost him my senior year in high school.

My current library is filled with books of faith and inspiration which he inscribed “To Judith, date, name of occasion, with love, Doctor.”  He constructed a scrapbook for me on my twelfth birthday. It fills a three-ring binder with snippets of inspiration and teaching that he culled from his reading. And most importantly, it contains some poems which he wrote – just for me personally. The opening is:

You’re twelve years old today, dear.  /  And I’m past seventy-three.  /  It’s back to back we’re dreaming  /  But it’s different things we see…

It goes on to say that I look at a golden sunrise and an earthly  future. He looks at a golden sundown and an eternal future.

Much of who I am today is due to his love and nurture and teaching. I thank God that he put Doctor in my life.

 I thought all children knew this kind of love and caring. When it dawned on me many years later that my childhood experiences were not typical, I was aghast. I saw people I knew and cared about be devastated by the loss of a family member.  A person I thought knew Christ as I did lost a sibling. Of course, it was a grievous time, but the grief and hopelessness I saw called forth the words of Paul:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  (1 Thessalonians 4:13  KJV)

I knew this dear soul needed a closer walk with the Lord, but I did nothing to help that along – unless you count my prayers.

Years later, my family was hit with a tragedy that made headlines for a year.  In the aftermath, people commented to me “You’re so strong” and “I don’t see how you do it.”  In fact, I’m not particularly strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong.  But I was convicted to share the power that keeps me going in the face of destruction.

That is why I write – and why I speak to women’s groups about forgiveness, healing, getting closer to God and intercessory prayer.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Society, Values, Writing

One Ringy-Dingy

This has been the week of the telephone in my head. It began when a Facebook friend posted a picture of Lily Tomlin in her role as the telephone operator on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In from decades ago.Lily Tomlin

Then another friend posted a photo of a rotary dial phone asking who remembered using one of these.



My astute cousin noted that the numbers seemed to be in reverse order, so I went looking and found out that this was a rotary dial phone from New Zealand with numbers in reverse order.

Of course, this was a later model than the first phone I remember.old phone

That one looked more like this.

You turned the handle on the right to activate the ringer and a central operator answered: “Number, please.” Then you told her to ring 24J or what ever number you wanted.

If you were looking for the community physician, Central always knew where he was and could ring him at any house in town – or the surrounding farms.  His office and living quarters were on Main Street above the pool hall and just across the corridor from the telephone office. When he left his premises, he’d  step into the telephone office and let the operator know where he’d be and for how long.

The central operator also acted as an emergency dispatcher. Our community was built at the confluence of four creeks, Hobbs Creek, Spring Creek, Gyp Creek, and Bull Run. When it rained, as it often did in spring and early summer, the farmers south of town would alert the operator if their neighboring creek was breaching its banks. Central would then call several men who would gather others and some of the high school boys. These crews went from house to house, helping residents put furniture and carpets up on saw horses, so that they would not be damaged by the flood waters.

Of course, these phones were on party lines, so you only answered your own ring.

My living arrangements were not typical. My parents had separated by the time I was three. My mother was working for the railroad as a clerk telegrapher on the extra board. Extra board meant that she was a temp – filling in for vacations, sick leave and the like.  She didn’t want to take a child from place to place, moving every few weeks, so I lived with her parents.

My mother was the middle child, between an older brother and a younger brother. During WWII her elder brother enlisted in the navy. He spent most of his tour on the Saratoga – an aircraft carrier in the Pacific theater.

My grandmother was a southern lady in bearing and deportment. Her standards included a basic tenet. “You will not make a scene in public and disgrace the family.” She was the original stoic.

I was about five and a half when the Japanese were broadcasting that they had sunk the Saratoga. When we heard the radio report, my grandmother stiffened her back straighter than any ramrod and set her jaw so firmly that it made Mount Rushmore look like quivering jello.

Then the phone rang. It was my uncle. “Mom, don’t believe the reports. Yes, we took a hit, but we’re in dry dock in Bremerton, Washington. No, I’m fine. Oh, but I did skin my shin on a gangway going up.”

My grandmother was perfectly calm all through the conversation. Then she hung up the phone and sat down in the little black enameled chair in the corner and shook – for about five minutes. Scared the bejeebers out of me at the time.  She got herself together, went into her bedroom, pulled the portieres and was in seclusion for about half an hour. When she came out, she told my grandfather (and me by default because I was there, too) what my uncle had said. It was never mentioned again.

Things went back to being totally calm and serene.




Filed under Family, Society

My New Friend, Reverend G

RJ Thesman is a certified life coach, but she has lived through watching loved ones struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She has written a brilliant trilogy about a lovely lady, my new friend, Reverend G.

Beginning with The Unraveling of Reverend G, through Intermission for Reverend G, to Final Grace for Reverend G, RJ Thesman has written a devastatingly accurate portrayal of the path of this disease and the steps for living through it with someone you love.

I was immediately captivated by Gertrude and had an immediate affinity for her distaste for her given name. (I never liked my middle name either.) She was a spunky woman who lived through some not very nice years with grace and aplomb. She accomplished a great deal while a single mother rearing an only son.

The first two books of the trilogy pull you intimately into her life, her thoughts, her feelings. Read them in order of publication, please. They give you a true picture of this lady and her circumstances.

Funny at times, poignant at others, Final Grace for Reverend G carries you through the journey of Alzheimer’s with sensitivity, wit, grace, and truth.  The truth of Alzheimer’s is that while it may rob one of their external means of expression, the person is still whole in spirit as a child of God.

At one point in my checkered career, I worked in a retirement facility much like Cove Creek, and I saw many people and their families wrestle with the enemy Reverend G called Zim.   I would hope that anyone dealing with Zim in any capacity would read this trilogy. It will change forever the way you look at the people who are dealing with it first hand, the patients.

Brilliantly written, the Reverend G series will teach and encourage as well as entertain. Mostly it will help you to understand that death is not always the enemy. Sometimes it is one’s best friend. A final grace given to the children of the Heavenly Father.

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Filed under Book Review, Family, Society, Values

Other People Make Me…?

From Mikey’s funnies:


I don’t need anger management. I need people to stop making me mad!



How much power over our lives do we give other people ?  I mean really. What can anyone make you do that is against your principles?

Let’s face it. We have no ability to make other people behave in a certain way. Therefore we should give other people no power to make us behave in a certain way.

Some things are inherently offensive. When someone attacks another person, inflicting injury or death, we are outraged. It is not fair, not right, a crying shame. But we have no power to make the perpetrator behave differently.

God gave man free choice – his own will. Even He does not try to coerce our behavior. He admonishes and reprimands, but He doesn’t force.

So why do we choose to let others determine our feelings and actions?

When was the last time someone made you angry? Made you sad? How did you handle it?  Just a little food for thought.



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Proverbs 29:18  (KJV)  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

I’ve known this scripture for years, and I always thought it was talking about two different things.

Today, however, I recognized the equation. Vision is equal to keeping the law.

So often we struggle with what we are to do, where we are to go, which commitments to undertake. We forget the simple answer. Lay it up against the law. If it fits, it’s appropriate for us to undertake.

There is a further test. As we line our lives up along side the law to verify that we are on the right track, we can sift the calls on our time and energy through the sieve of purpose. What is our purpose? What do we want to accomplish within the vision of the law?

We make some things more complicated that they ought to be. Keeping the law is simple – always.

Easy?  Sometimes not  so easy.

But when you live with the world view that things are either right or wrong, black or white,  you don’t get caught up in the multiple shades of gray.

Our computers are built on the simple idea of “off/on”.  Despite the multiplicity of tasks they perform, it’s either off or on, yes or no, black or white.

What decisions do you struggle with today?  What is the vision of where you are going?



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Filed under Excellence, Faith, Family, Society, Values, Work


My friend, Patsy Terrell, asked on Facebook: “What was a memorable moment of serendipity?”

Several sprang to mind immediately. The one that came to life in neon was an incident that happened in the early 90s when my mother and I were traveling together.

My mother and I were both members of Mary Wade Strother Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. One of our chapter sisters was visiting with us as we were making preparations to travel to Washington, DC, for DAR Continental Congress one April. About 3,000 members were expected to attend.

As a passing joke, Karen asked us to greet her cousin who lived in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Laughing we promised her we would. None of us expected that we would even see the cousin across a crowded room.

Our first day in DC, we went to the Registrar General’s office to purchase a specific support pin. As we sat down to complete the necessary paperwork, we spoke to the lady already at the table. In conversation we learned that she was from Pennsylvania, King of Prussia, and was, indeed, Karen’s cousin.  And the very first person we spoke to who was not of our traveling party.

Coincidence?  Only if you accept my definition.

Coincidence: a small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous. If you don’t want to see Him, you don’t have to. But if you’re looking, there He is.

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