Family owes Muir for years of memories

Family owes Muir for years of memories
October 8, 2020
This Week News

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir (1838–1914)

When I first visited Yosemite National Park, the beauty overwhelmed me: towering mountains; treetops that seemed to touch the clouds; the rushing river that never ceased its cleansing quest.

I felt so small yet peaceful amidst the reverent hush.

That was 47 years ago. I can visualize my young self seeing it all. I don’t think I could have put into words what I felt at the time. But all these years later, I remember the awe and sensory euphoria more than mountain names.

Then five years later, I had my first experience in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. I hiked the trails and to the tops of mountains breathing cool air as I gazed at the smoky haze settling over the mountain range.

I felt awe once again being surrounded by God’s creation. A new kind of quiet and peace covered me. I breathed deeply and felt revived.

The Smokies is where my husband and I camped with our children and met people we never would have met otherwise from around the country and the world.

These experiences are what people like John Muir hoped for when the national parks idea first began.

Muir was a naturalist, writer and advocate of U.S. forest conservation. He founded the Sierra Club and published essays pushing for the establishment of Yosemite National Park, which was created in 1890. Muir became a major figure in the creation of parks for the Grand Canyon and Sequoia regions as well.

My husband and I have visited the Grand Canyon three times. The vastness is breathtaking. Words cannot capture the experience.

Last summer, we watched Ken Burns’ 2009 documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” again.

Muir was front and center throughout the many hours of this series of films. The history of the U.S. National Parks system is artfully and factually filled with the history of the parks themselves.

The series did not gloss over history that we don’t smile about. Case in point: The removal of the residents of the Smokies, including the Cherokee.

Watching this series was especially gratifying since this year we were not able to make our planned camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for various reasons.

Many of our memories are documented in photo albums. But the best memories are the ones we talk about even today.

In the 70s, there were no reservations available. We drove all night with the children asleep in the back seat. We arrived, often before sunrise, to wait in line for a campsite. We were young and even after a sleepless night, had energy to set up camp and head out on the trails.

Jean and Lee Schilling were local musicians who entertained campers at the campground amphitheater. They played guitar, dulcimer and autoharp and sang mountain songs. One trip, we went to their music shop, a cabin literally in the woods, and Bob bought a kit to make me a dulcimer.

We always drove though the Cade’s Cove loop and saw deer and bear. The latter often creating what is called a “bear jam” because people stopped on the narrow, one-way lane to take pictures.

We finished each day with a campfire, music, s’mores, and star gazing.

Last October we felt the years march past since we started camping in the Smokies. Our two grandsons, then 19 and 22, and one of their friends, rode their motorcycles to Tennessee to camp with us on the tent pad next to our Airstream.

The experience gave us new, precious memories made possible by forward thinkers like Muir.

‘Kids’ relish thoughts of grandmas, grandpas

Day by Day: ‘Kids’ relish thoughts of grandmas, grandpas

By LIZ THOMPSON
September 6, 2020
This Week News

My Grandmother Page often said, “Patience is a virtue.”

As a grandma myself, I wonder if I’ve passed on any pearls of wisdom. I hope my grandchildren know I love cheering them on as they grow to maturity in beautiful ways.

The first Sunday of September following Labor Day was signed into law in 1978 as National Grandparents Day.

Julie Frost from Grove City said her family often traveled to Pittsburgh to see her Gram and Uncle Jim.

“Our grandpa passed away when I was 3, and our great uncle lived with Gram,” she said. “I remember playing on her big front porch and with our cousins when they visited their grandparents who lived up the street.”

The Frosts raised three boys and have seven grandchildren. When two sons announced their wives both were going to have girls, she was in heaven, Frost said.

Her other grandmother moved to Ohio at age 82. She lived 20 more years.

“Those are the years I really got to know her,” Frost said.

“We love to just play with our grandkids and listen to everything they say,” she said. “We want to be remembered as the fun grandparents. I hope they still want to talk to me when they get older.”

Doug Frost wants to be a huge part of their grandchildren’s lives, as well. He wants their grandchildren to remember that “their Papaw was as silly as they are, and that I always had time to play.”

Ron Gabriel was retired as Grove City police chief when his grandson, Caleb, was born.

Caleb’s dad, also named Ron, said, “One of our biggest blessings was that Caleb’s and his sister Hannah’s grandparents were so involved in their lives — and still are. Hannah and Caleb spend all kinds of time with my mother, Winnie, and my wife’s mother, Carla Peterson. They are at Carla’s every Monday for dinner and help her around the house.

“Hannah is with Winnie doing a lot of tech support for the computer and having dinner periodically.”

The younger Ron Gabriel said his father taught Caleb how to build. It appears he now sees the fruits of his loving labor.

Caleb Gabriel is a neighbor. I smile when I see the three men working on projects in perfect sync, measuring, laughing and enjoying each other.

Wendy Williams, who lives in Westerville, said she was lucky to know four grandparents.

“My mother’s parents babysat for me often,” she said. “They were always so kind to me.”

Her grandpa read newspaper comics to her and brought warm cashews from Smittle’s Pharmacy when he visited.

“My grandmother used to take me to the downtown Lazarus and Mills Restaurant for lunch,” Williams said. “We dressed up to go.”

Williams’ father’s parents taught her to play euchre and spent many afternoons shuffling and dealing. Her grandmother, Beunah Lawrence, graduated from Otterbein College in music.

“She went to people’s houses by horse and buggy to give lessons,” Williams said. “She played the organ at the Methodist church (now Church of the Messiah) while she was in college.

“I want my three, soon to be four, grandchildren to remember me as kind and loving, and enjoyed spending time with us. It is one of the best gifts God has ever given us. I watch in amazement as they grow and develop. I have time to listen to almost every word they say — though the 2 1/2-year-old has a lot to say!”

Jim Williams knew both grandmothers. His paternal grandmother lived with them six months each year.

“She spent a lot of time with me and always asked what I was thinking about,” he said. “It was way different than hearing, ‘Be quiet.’

“She was my loving thought coach, and even as a teenager I knew I was lucky to have her around.”

Jim Williams said his maternal grandfather died when he was 6.

“When we visited on Sunday, after dinner he would go out on his porch and whittle,” he said. “He gave me a hand-carved chain with a working turnbuckle. It is one of my favorite treasures and in my lockbox today.”

“The best way to honor your grandparents is the gift of time together — or at least some sort of communication,” Wendy Williams said.

Time together builds memories that last.

Grandmother Page with our daughter, Mary Page in 1974.

 

Food bank turns 40 as local need intensifies

Day by Day:
Food bank turns 40 as local need intensifies
By LIZ THOMPSON
August 9, 2020
This Week News

Rearranging food containers to make room in a packed-full fridge is a delicious plight not everyone has.

Matt Habash, president and CEO of Mid-Ohio Food Collective, tells a story about a mother who came to the organization’s food pantry with her 14-year-old daughter.

When the girl was offered a piece of fresh fruit, she replied, “It’s not my day to eat,” Habash said.

“She explained … that her family was taking turns eating in order to make the food stretch throughout the week, even though her father worked a full- and a part-time job, while her mother cared for their three children and grandparents,” he said.

Situations like this are why, 40 years ago, the idea of the food pantry began. It grew from a small pantry in the basement of a church into Operation Feed Foodbank.

Forty years later, the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, 3960 Brookham Drive, Grove City, is celebrating its anniversary.

“In our first year, we distributed 205,200 pounds of food. In 1986, Operation Feed Foodbank moved to a larger warehouse on West Mound Street and became Mid-Ohio Foodbank,” Habash said. “That year, we distributed 9.5 million pounds of food.

“Today, the food bank is located in our 204,000-square-foot, Gold-LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified facility in Grove City and serves as the anchor asset of the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.”

Mid-Ohio Farm on the Hilltop, Mid-Ohio Kitchen, Mid-Ohio Farmacy and Mid-Ohio Markets emerged from a brand refresh that began in January.

“Over the decades, we’ve learned that hunger goes beyond the dinner plate — a car breaking down, losing a job, combating racism, finding affordable housing, or earning a decent wage,” the organization’s website says. “The Mid-Ohio Food Collective is about rolling our sleeves and meeting our neighbors where they are.”

More than half of the food it distributes is fresh. The food bank doles out more than 75 million pounds of food a year — enough for at least 155,000 meals every day.

“Especially with the current pandemic, we have people who are in need of food more often, and we have customers who are coming to us for the very first time,” Habash said. “From March to June, we measured a 30% increase in food distribution compared to the same time period last year.”

The collective believes in food as health. When reducing food insecurity, it effectively is creating healthier communities. Healthier people mean better health outcomes while helping to lessen health-care costs.

“Food matters; nutritious food matters more,” Habash said.

Not all customers come through a food pantry. They may come through a referral from their physician or while attending Columbus State Community College. Habash said the collective is thankful for the donors, volunteers and advocates who support its work.

“Volunteers are vital to our mission,” he said. “The work we do would not be possible without them.”

As it transitions from having the National Guard on-site, the collective will need neighbors from the community more than ever to aid in continuing its mission and serving customers during this time of great need. Soon, 734 volunteer slots will need to be filled each week. All precautions are being taken with temperature checks, sanitizing, distancing and masks, and volunteers may work alongside others with whom they already have close contact.

“Whether talking about (the) 14-year-old, or the senior living in isolation making choices about paying for her medicine or paying for food, or the veteran who is so proud … and ashamed to ask for food assistance that he volunteers at a local food pantry, these stories really speak to the resiliency of our families and the commitment they have — like the rest of us — to make sure we have food on the tables for our families,” Habash said.

Before the pandemic, the collective’s research showed the majority of the families it served included an employed person. COVID-19 greatly disrupted this trend. Now, so many families find themselves having to make ends meet during these confusing and unsettling times.

To learn how to help or to find help, go to midohiofoodbank.org or call 614-277-3663.

Optimism essential in crisis

Optimism essential in crisis
By Liz Thompson
July 12, 2020
This Week News

Earlier this month, we celebrated the Fourth of July and our nation’s freedom.

The past few months have been riddled with problems that could cause fear to win over reason or enjoying our lives.

One freedom we do have is to choose how we will react in any given situation.

I try to react positively, but I don’t always succeed. It is a challenge for everyone during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and all the other issues going on in our country.

In the 1980s, I worked for a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. He taught me how to solve problems.

When I first approached him about a problem, he said something like, “You can bring any problem to me you want, but when you do, also bring a solution. We may not use it, but we’ll figure it out.”

That advice has carried me through many circumstances. Problems are everywhere in our lives. To resolve them, we need to come up with solutions.

That’s what many people have been doing these past few months.

The pandemic has created problems we have never faced before. I believe people are resilient.

I’ve begun to think more intentionally about everything. I’ve made efforts to focus on all the things going well and search for solutions for even the smallest problems.

I see more pop-up pools in yards and get to hear children laughing. I’ve enjoyed watching a young family plant a garden and tend it together. Children are playing, swinging, running — often while parents watch during the week. Moms and dads — on furlough, perhaps — are making the most of the time together.

Cathy Williams found herself without her job at the Hair Shoppe in Grove City when the state ordered salons and barbershops closed in March. It was difficult not seeing her daughters or grandchild, but she said she and her four brothers texted constantly.

“We still do that even now. And I saw more people outside walking dogs, picnicking and playing as family units,” she said. “I was home and was able to see that.”

She and I had another thing in common during this time: cleaning our homes and not missing one corner or closet.

My daughter, Mary, said having a margin in her days is a good thing.

“This allows for all the ‘little’ things to be done so that life runs more smoothly,” she said.

Mary has been creative about interacting with others when she couldn’t be with them. And she is thankful for online church services — as am I.

“But seeing people in real life, in real time, and having ‘normal’ conversations in person is so valuable,” she said.

As a result, lawn parties are becoming commonplace.

Mary’s family recently added a puppy to the household — a mix of Labrador retriever and Great Pyrenees.

Her advice: “If there is ever another quarantine, get a puppy — they are a wonderful, pleasant distraction that brings joy and excitement to any day.”

Joan Campbell of Reynoldsburg said, “My current day-to-day routine doesn’t seem at all suffocating, and I have the good fortune to be married to someone who feels the same way. We’re happy to be hermits together, if that’s not a contradiction in terms.

“But I’ve also been able to actually read some books that have long awaited my attention. That’s a little bit of heaven right there.”

Like many others, my husband and I didn’t do our typical springtime camping. As a result, we got our garden started at a better time.

We planted our wildflower seeds and are being rewarded with myriad blooms showing off their diversity and beauty.

My daughter agreed about gardening: “Gardening is peaceful when you allow yourself to really take the time to do it and not just rush through the work for the results.”

Campbell said, “Yard work and gardening have attracted a higher percentage of my time than usual.”

I read that seed suppliers were busier than ever with the demand because more people are planting gardens.

Seeds of hope likely will grow as we learn positive ways to find solutions during this difficult time.

Childhood memories keep family farm alive

Day by Day:
Childhood memories keep family farm alive

By LIZ THOMPSON
June 14, 2020
This Week News

The sound of the cooing mourning dove at the beginning of summer takes me back to my grandmother Page’s farm and the lazy summer days I spent there, waking to the sound of the dove as the sheer white curtains blew softly in the morning breeze.

I remember waking and listening to bird song and sniffing the summer scents. I would look out the window and through the tall trees to see her vegetable garden.

Once downstairs, the large kitchen smelled like flowers, cinnamon, coffee, toast and homemade jam. Each day held the promise of adventure and time with my grandmother.

My grandmother lived on a farm built in 1854 in Groveport (Ohio.) The property originally consisted of about 750 acres, and the largest section, the bottomland, ended where three creeks came together: Alum, Blacklick and Big Walnut. They named the farm Westbank.

The bricks for the house and the outbuildings were made from the land, and the wood came from the trees.

I am told that from the kitchen pantry to under the front porch was a tunnel that was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

By the time I was born, the acreage had decreased, but the beauty remained. The time at the farm was more about being with my grandmother and enjoying time outdoors.

Sadly, the farm was sold to developers in the 1970s, and the house burned down in the early 1980s.

But the mind is miraculous. I can easily walk through the large house and around the land in my mind. I see my young self crawling under the shade of the tall trees to find carpets of wild violets.

I often sat on the large, cushioned swing on the screened porch and listened to my mother, grandmother and aunts talk as their knitting needles clicked.

On hot summer evenings, adults moved the cloth lawn chairs to the large yard, hoping to catch a breeze. My siblings and I, and often our cousins, busily would catch lightning bugs in jars.

The summer kitchen smelled of earth, clay pots and all manner of gardening utensils.

Music floated in the air when my grandmother played her piano.

It’s important to appreciate what we have while we have it. Our childhood memories can be glimpses of the real thing, yet the feelings, scents and mental images sustain us when life gets too complicated.

I wrote a poem 32 years ago about the farm, called “September Night Play.” In part, it reads:

Knitting needles clicking and conversation humming.
The citronella candle and the swing gently bumping.
Lightning bugs and laughter, and children running after
With a jar and lid with holes punched through to let the captured breathe air, too.

The weeping willow is a grand hiding place
But it is time to go home and end our night play.
So goodbye to Grandma, she must return to her porch
Who will have a new sweater to keep them warm at night
While catching bugs in a jar to watch their green, glowing light?

It’s so easy to become complacent thinking everything will stay the same.

I’d like to think I didn’t take the farm for granted, but I was 20 and living in California when she sold the farm. When I was there last, I assumed I would walk through the doors again. Maybe walk down the lane with her to get the mail or spend a summer day or Christmas Day with her.

We often do take things and people in our lives for granted without realizing it. But we can change that starting right now.

Irish poet and author John O’Donohue wrote in his book, “Anam Cara,” “Explore memory as a place where our vanished days secretly gather … and the passionate heart never ages.”

As I listen to the dove cooing, I close my eyes and smile. I let the sweet memories of childhood at the farm and in small-town Westerville tumble through my mind aimlessly, almost like a child doing summersaults through the cool grass on a summer evening.

Grandmother Page’s farmhouse likely taken in the 1940’s.
I remember in front of the screened porch she had roses, not bushes.

Changes in daily life afford time for kindness

Day by Day: Changes in daily life afford time for kindness

May 21, 2020

This Week News

The tiny, green mint leaves peeked above ground last month in my yard.

As I pulled the tentacles of the plant’s roots from the heavily mulched garden, I was amazed at how they had become so long underground.

When I planted it years ago, I didn’t know that it was an invasive plant that could take over an area.

I can see a similarity in the mint to the hidden, sweet-smelling things in our lives.

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, I have seen the sweet reactions of so many people. This unique time in our country has most of us staying home to stay safe.

But for those with children now home from school – and people working from home – life took a quick turn. Suddenly, they have the entire family at home, all the time.

Homeschooling became a reality that was thrust on many parents. It takes patience and creativity, but the spring weather at least makes it easier to spend time outdoors.

With technology at our fingertips, online school and virtual meetings became the norm.

My granddaughter, Elizabeth, now a senior at Cedarville University, completed schoolwork online. She conducted lessons via video with her piano students.

My mom, Mary Day, who just turned 98, always was busy and available to me and my three siblings 24/7.

Someone at the Church of the Messiah, her church in Westerville, planned a drive-by birthday party, including gifts. Cars lined the streets as she stood on the porch waving. My brother, Jim, and his family later stood on the sidewalk and sang “Happy Birthday to You.” They and my sister, Cynthia Slocum, all from Westerville, delivered flowers, gifts and sweets.

This distancing has been especially difficult for those living alone or in nursing homes. Stories abound of people holding up signs in windows at such places so residents know they are loved.

My neighbor, Ralph Johnston, recently turned 88, and his family put together a drive-by birthday celebration. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren drove by and brought gifts. Ralph shouted this information to me from his porch as I walked by with my dog.

I have learned more about frugality and appreciation for the plenty my husband and I usually have. We ordered online using home delivery from GFS, Meijer and Giant Eagle. The stores’ employees did wonderful jobs of putting our orders together and delivering them. We may continue this for some time.

They are frontline people taking extra precautions to provide what folks need.

I always have had high regard for health-care workers, and even more so now. Their needs for equipment and protective gear have skyrocketed. Walking into a hospital or making an emergency run immediately puts them at risk.

Gov. Mike DeWine (Ohio) and his team deserve praise for their quick action to protect Ohioans and keep us informed daily.

Author Laura Kelly Fanucci wrote of current times:

“When this is over, may we never again take for granted:

A handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theatre,

Friday night out, the taste of communion, a routine checkup, the school rush each morning,

Coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring, each deep breath,

A boring Tuesday, life itself.

When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be,

We were called to be,

We hoped to be and may we stay that way,

Better for each other because of the worst.”

This month, we are easing back into business as usual, yet most of us realize “usual” might have changed permanently.

Face masks will be common, distancing ordinary, church services modified, shopping different.

We have been given a unique opportunity to look beyond ourselves and become united, though separate. Let’s hope the kindnesses we shared during these past few months remain.

That is the type of invasive, sweet-smelling action we always need.

Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

Day by Day:
Listening fortifies 43-year marriage

By LIZ THOMPSON
April 19, 2020
This Week News

Most of us can look back on our lives and wonder what would be different today if we had made a different choice in the past.

My most vivid thoughts on this idea float back to April 1, 1977.

A friend from church, Rosemary, talked me into going to a church-sponsored single-parents group. It took some convincing, but I finally gave in.

Within 45 minutes, I had met the man I would marry.

It was the last thing I had in mind. I was focused on raising my young daughter and surviving on a meager salary.

But one year and 21 days later, Bob and I became husband and wife.

We have been asked by young people how we stayed married “this long.” It seems we met yesterday, not 43 years ago.

Love and respect, friendship and good listening skills certainly help make the days memorable.

A verse from James 1:19 is good advice for relationships, especially marriage:

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Most of us have heard the phrase, “There’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.”

According to an article on Dayspring, “If you have (heard this phrase), consciously or not, the deliverer of that message was speaking the truth of James 1:19.”

Bob and I had some unique situations to deal with. We all have challenges, but we were a blended family before it was common.

He was blind in one eye, and I had moderate hearing loss.

We often joked that it was a good thing because he could see only half of me and I could hear only half of what he said. We joked so we wouldn’t cry or feel sorry for ourselves.

It turned out Bob had a lot to say, so I listened as well as I could for many years. I had no difficulty talking and Bob was a great listener. I was near deafness in 2002.

“But love listens because love first seeks to understand. At its core, that’s all listening really is: caring enough to try to understand before responding.”

Those sentiments from the same Dayspring article had a different meaning as I lost my physical ability to understand words. I could read body language and American Sign Language.

I usually was exhausted at the end of the day trying to understand. Many times, I responded incorrectly or remained silent, yet Bob and my family were kind and patient with me.

When the miracle of a cochlear implant gave me back the ability to hear words clearly, I loved listening and truly understanding.

I love it when Bob says, “I was thinking …” because we can share our thoughts so easily now.

The Dayspring article was about the art of listening well. I think that is the basis for any good relationship, and certainly marriage. It goes on to say:

“For those who are quick to listen, have patience with the talkers.

“For the talkers: breathe. Let others speak until they’re finished … then wait to say it. Intentionally let someone else speak first.

“And as for the slow-to-anger part of these verses in James … that’s much easier to do when we are first quick to listen and subsequently slow to speak.”

It takes practice on both sides of any communication. Did we do it perfectly all these years?

Of course not, but we came out stronger on the other side of troubles. We added a large dose of forgiveness throughout the years for ourselves as well as for each other.

We are all challenged during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I’m thankful to have Bob by my side as we live our wedding vows every day: “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.”

In many ways, we helped each other become better versions of ourselves.

I’m glad I listened all those years ago.

Enjoy each new day. Time passes all too quickly.

Letter is ‘awesome’ reminder of slower pace

Day by Day:
Letter is ‘awesome’ reminder of slower pace

By LIZ THOMPSON

Mar 22, 2020
This Week News

My old printer finally spit out its last sheet of paper, just as I was attempting to print something to mail to my mother.

Yes, good old U.S. mail.

The printer’s demise was an inconvenience, but I reasoned it was about 10 years old. For electronics these days, that’s a good life.

I’m thankful it won’t end up in a landfill for another 50 years because there are ways to recycle almost anything – including old printers.

Just as my printer died, I was about to type a letter to my youngest grandson, who is deployed with the U.S. Armed Forces. He had just texted his new address. I replied that I would answer with a handwritten letter.

His response: “Awesome! Those are special!”

Being a grandmother who grew up writing everything by hand, this made me smile. In 2020, a young man thinks handwritten notes are awesome.

I told him, “You are special.”

In the early 1990s, I had a severe attack of multiple sclerosis that left my right arm and hand numb. Holding a pen or writing was nearly impossible. Fortunately, I was a typist.

It took years to regain normal use of that hand, and the numbness finally abated. I struggled to make my handwriting readable.

Then, in 2006, I broke my right wrist. After surgery, again, I had to teach myself to write legibly.

I have to concentrate to write anything of length these days, but it’s doable.

I have a letter my grandfather had typed to my brother and me around 1955. Typewritten to us then might have been special instead of the usual handwritten note.

A recent daily devotion stated, in part:

“We live in a world of instant gratification. We want what we want – and we want it now! Whether it’s faster internet speeds, ‘on-demand’ movies and music or same-day delivery for our online purchases, we live in a culture that expects things to happen immediately.

“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with fast internet connections, downloading a new release to your tablet or enjoying the convenience of same-day delivery.”

When I read this and then my grandson’s text – yet another instant-gratification tool – I realized writing a note by hand takes longer. I give it more thought because I can’t backspace or delete to fix an error or reword a sentence. Giving more thought about what we want to say is important.

My dad used to chastise us if we said something inappropriate in content or tone. He would remind us to think before we spoke.

How easy it is to spout off something in anger or even excitement and realize too late how we sounded.

It’s just as easy to shoot a text, email or tweet in a way we later regret. They’re not just words in the air but words that can be saved for a long time.

Are we that impatient to learn the latest tidbit of news that we can’t wait to talk with someone?

When we have celebratory news, we do want to shout it out. Besides, buying, writing and mailing announcements can take time, and we want to send the news now. Yet it might be made more precious sharing in a more personal way.

Many remember catalogs clogging the mailbox. We’d flip through them to see what clothes, toys or gadgets were offered.

I used to place orders by telephone. When I paid via check, the company would process the order once the check was received and cleared.

Sometimes, orders for home or business took four to six weeks.

We had to plan ahead and seldom made purchases on a whim. And yes, we used it up and wore it out.

Catalogs still exist, but brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing faster than I would like.

Now many stores don’t want checks, and some don’t even accept cash. Credit and debit cards often are the only game in town.

In these days of instant gratification, we can get used to and appreciate the convenience.

But I often yearn for a slower pace.

 

On worst days, 911 call takers are there

On worst days, 911 call takers are there

By LIZ THOMPSON

February 23, 2020
This Week News

“Imagine being there for everyone’s worst day, every day. The reward is absolutely knowing you made a difference with each shift.”

These words from Johnna Sells, Franklin County (Ohio) 911 coordinator, tell us what telecommunicators deal with on every shift they work.

Never was I more thankful for the ability to dial those three short numbers to get help than I was 15 years ago, after I went careening backward down my basement steps onto concrete.

Those three numbers connected me with a calm voice that asked me, “Where is your emergency?”

Within minutes, several EMTs were coming in my back door, per my instructions.

I have always wondered about the calm voices at the other end of my calls.

These people are called dispatchers, communications technicians, public-safety telecommunicators or call takers.

The most important name is first responders.

They are the first people we talk to – those who are extensively trained to sort quickly through our emergency and send the correct help our way.

“There is so much more that is expected from our telecommunicators than ever before,” Sells said. “With the constant addition of new and better technology, the job is constantly evolving. The job is anything but stagnant.”

Training is detailed so telecommunicators can triage the diverse situations to get the proper response started.

Dublin, Grove City, Hilliard and Upper Arlington provide Smart911.

Smart911 allows individuals to provide additional personal information on their households, such as names, ages, health issues and pets, for the telecommunicators.

“It is different because it goes beyond the basics provided by a phone company,” Sells said.

When people call 911, they could be panicking, or for other reasons not able to provide all the information needed for the best response.

“Smart911 is a good financial investment for a community to make,” Sells said.

In 1968, the first 911 call was made in the United States. Now, 96% of the United States is covered by some level of 911 service. 911 was established in 1983 in Ohio. Franklin County implemented the services in 1987.

If you need to call 911, the most important information you can give is your location.

“You can give the entire rundown of the bad thing that is happening, but the bottom line is that we cannot help you if we don’t know where you are,” Sells said.

“Rest assured, once we know where you are and what the type of emergency that is occurring, we have started a response,” she said. “If we are still asking questions, it’s because we need additional information to pass to the responders so they can better prepare before they arrive on (the) scene.”

Telecommunicators always are in demand, Sells said.

“It’s hard work, and, traditionally, it comes with long hours, at all hours of the day and night,” she said.

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and weekends are included, so it is not for everyone.

“We look for people who want to serve their community and work in the public-safety field,” Sells said. “There has to be some passion for the industry to keep someone engaged and dedicated, but we also need people who are empathetic and can talk someone down when they are reaching out for help.”

Telecommunicators are multitaskers. They must be people who can talk, type, anticipate the needs of their responders and keep a steady voice through it all. They put the pieces together for their responders and for their community.

Sells was a telecommunicator for 15 years and said, “They are the first to learn about the emergency, now with growing video technology, sometimes even first eyes on (the) scene, they are the link between the public and the help they need.

“Telecommunicators should be held to the same high standards that police and fire have to meet and maintain, and they should in return be given the same recognition as those they work alongside,” she said.

Thank you all for being there in sometimes our darkest hours.

Call Franklin County’s human-resources line at 614-525-3397 if you want to know more about becoming a telecommunicator.

Empty nest prompts advice for moms, dads

Day by Day: Empty nest prompts advice for moms, dads

By LIZ THOMPSON

January 27, 2020
This Week News

One spring, I watched an adult male robin and a young male robin as they hopped in my yard, pecking at the ground.

I noticed the larger robin was leading the smaller one – obviously papa and son.

I was fascinated. I had never seen that obvious action of teaching in nature before. I wondered how long it took the mama bird to push him out of the nest, and then the papa took over the teaching so he could survive.

Papa’s role had changed; he no longer brought worms to the nest for the babies.

That’s what we want for our children – not so much the worms but the learning and growing. We care for our children when they are young and cannot care for themselves.

As parents, we do our best to teach them by example and in all the ways anyone learns anything. We encourage their talents and provide opportunities as we can. We gradually nudge our children out of the nest so they will learn independence and live the lives they were meant to live apart from us.

The door always is left open with a soft place to land, no matter their age or place in life.

But the day comes when they fly the coop and we wave goodbye, helpless to stop time. A mixture of sadness, pride, love and hope rises within when we comprehend we have been working toward this day since they were born.

The time with them has moved far too rapidly, we realize, as we blink away tears.

My husband and I became empty nesters in 1995. All three children were grown and out on their own. When our youngest, Mary, waved goodbye to us after her wedding, I was told it was OK to cry.

But I said I was fine and very happy for her. She had married a nice man whom we loved.

The moment I landed in the passenger seat of our car to go home, I burst into tears.

How had time moved so fast?

I recovered on our drive home. I reminded myself again how happy we were for her.

Later that evening, I walked into our bedroom and found a framed picture of Mary with us, taken when she was about 3 years old.

A letter had been placed next to it.

As I read the letter, my hands shook with emotion and the tears once again fell. She was thanking us for being her parents.

The litany of mistakes I’d made over the years could have canceled out her loving words. So often I felt that I had messed up and had done things wrong as a parent.

If I could do it again today, I would do things differently. This same daughter went on to successfully homeschool all three of her children, and now she’s on the verge of being an empty nester, too.

That day, in 1995, as I read and reread her letter and then shared it with my husband, the old regrets melted away.

The letter is still tucked behind the photo. I have shared it with a few close friends, and each time, the tears return.

A quote from the book “Live and Learn and Pass It On” – described as “a collection of wisdom from people aged 5 to 95″ – states, “I’ve learned that simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.”

Pastor and author Gordon McDonald agrees: “All effective fathers learn the importance of a wise and flexible response to their children’s calls for attention. No busy signals here. No hold button.”

That also holds true for mothers, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents, adoptive parents or any adult in a child’s life who can offer the simple things to our children that involve time.

Talk and listen, cook, read, laugh and solve problems together.

Help with homework and attend their sports games, plays, concerts, art shows and science fairs.

Show up. Be present.

As ordinary people, we can show extraordinary love as we see each child as a unique gift, pecking his or her way through life, looking for an example.