Slow down and enjoy life’s read

Day by day

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

What page are you on?

I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book when I don’t want it to end. Slowing down only delays the inevitable; the last page, the final word. Next I’ll be searching for the sequel or another book by this author.

Some people struggle to read and find it hard to study and learn; it can be a real problem to overcome.

But I’m also talking about those who can read fine but don’t want the task. They stop and look to see how many pages they have to read, bemoaning the fact they aren’t close to being finished — wasting time being frustrated instead of enjoying the read. The end will come soon enough.

We do that same thing when we check our watch every few minutes or wish our days away, when we spend time worrying or wanting a bad day to end. We’d be better off by making the most of the moment.

Maybe it’s a human condition where we push forward, in essence, to simply get all the pages turned and the book finished.

As a teen, a reading test showed I was a fast reader, yet my comprehension lagged. Reading fast has served me well in some respects, but proved detrimental when typing what I was reading. By reading so fast, I often skipped entire lines. The same proved true when playing the piano while reading the music.

In time, I learned to pace myself for accuracy in typing and playing music. As a result, my comprehension improved and I enjoyed more what I was reading or playing.

Our personal life is a unique book, one I believe is written by God. Not one book, or life, is identical. That’s remarkable. We need to listen and watch thoughtfully as each page is turned, knowing the end will eventually happen.

In May, we were camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On our campsite, we had a screened room but we kept the front open during the day.

A yellow butterfly was darting frantically in this room, seeking an exit. I tried to help it out with my hands and hoped it would alight on my cane when upheld, to no avail. It was almost painful to watch as it hit the top and sides, coming so close to the exit and starting its mad path over again.

Finally, it escaped. We sighed with relief. Two days later it happened again, and I was able to use my hands to ease it to freedom. The flutter of its wings was both a thrill and a warning.

I found my heart rate was up after it flew away, and it reminded me how we sometimes spend a lot of time flying around seeking freedom, often refusing help. We see children acting much like the butterfly until they realize accepting help and guidance is good.

Life lessons are a gift.

I’m reminded of the final page analogy when someone dies and I attend the funeral, memorial service or wake. In April and May, I attended four such events, although in the same time frame six people I knew left this life: three friends, a brother-in-law, a neighbor who was also a friend, and the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony many years ago.

In retrospect, we think of these lives and their legacy.

I believe it’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others. That would be like saying all the best books, poems and the like have been written. Why should we try to write anything?

I refer to other writers who inspire me; I don’t stop writing, thinking it doesn’t measure up, although I often choose to toss writings or completely rework them.

So with our lives. We spend time reworking ourselves and tossing out the garbage, so to speak. That’s a good choice.

When I attend memorial services, I try not to compare my life to theirs but I take inspiration from them. Those who volunteered — I might support these causes. Those who had great humor — I might catch myself when I grumble. And those who were humble — I’m reminded to check my ego at the door.

The list goes on.

When I fail to do what is good and true, I look to change that, often thinking of those who were positive influences on me.

Life moves fast enough; no need to push ahead. Turn your life pages slowly and enjoy the read.

 

Remembering Ruth Jividen

Day by Day

Remembering Ruth Jividen
By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

There’s no timeline to friendship.

One friend came into my life in 2007.

Ann Reynolds hosted our Sawyer Drive Ladies’ Gathering, surprising us with a special guest who lived around the corner. Ann said she was a special lady she had known since childhood.

“She went to school with my mother and aunts. As an adult, I really got to know her,” Ann said.

When this guest started talking, I asked for a pen and paper. I wanted to share her stories with others.

After this day, we met often. She talked, I wrote. I read it to her, she edited. I submitted. Together we wrote eight “Ruth Remembers” columns, which were published here from 2007 to 2011.

Her stories were a hit in our little ‘burb.

You likely have read much about Ruth Sawyer Jividen, her homestead that was sold to the city weeks before her April 14 death, and the closing of Beulah Park, which was named after one of her aunts.

Much history of our small town is linked to her family. After all, she was the last direct descendent of Hugh Grant, the man who cut down the first tree and built the first cabin here.

So why write more, and why should you read more about Ruth?

Ruth was more than the history she knew so well and lived for close to 99 years. She was an example to the following generations and had messages to share. All you had to do was ask her. Ruth could tell a story about growing up in Grove City with remarkable clarity and detail, remembering names, dates and places.

“She used to know the names of every family in Grove City,” Ann said. “She enjoyed talking to people more than talking about her.”

At her memorial service at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Pastor Don Allman said she was not stuck in the past but understood how the past shapes us.

“Ruth moved forward with the times, building on her foundation of faith and her experiences,” he said.

She was ready to meet her maker.

“Why am I still here?” she asked me weeks before her death. I reminded her that God knows the number of our days and we had to trust him. When we sang Precious Lord, Take My Hand at her memorial service, I knew that is exactly what Jesus did when she left this earthly life.

When she was 95 1/2  (she made sure I included the 1/2), I asked if she would write a letter to Jesus for my book. I’m glad I had a pen and paper handy because she took one breath and said, “Yes, dear Jesus … ” and shared her thoughts.

Once again, she talked, I wrote. I read it to her and she said, “You got the good stuff.”

“That sounds like Ruth,” Esta Fields said when I told her the story. “She was the sweetest little thing I ever knew. We could talk about anything. I just loved her.”

History connected them. They met five years ago when Harrisburg United Methodist Church was having its 200th anniversary, where people dressed in period costumes. Esta and her sister, JoAnn Freeman, borrowed bonnets from Ruth, but Esta first met her when returning them.

They became fast friends.

“We hit it off right away. When her health failed a few years ago, I stayed with her till her strength returned. I was glad to do that,” she said.

Esta was modest about the many ways she helped Ruth.

Ruth’s many friends in town readily lent her a helping hand, returning years of her generosity.

Don Yors, a lifetime resident, started working for Ruth’s first husband, Lem Seymour, doing odd jobs at age 13. He knew Ruth for more than 62 years and said she always made him feel like part of the family.

“She did a lot for me, was generous and always met me with a hug,” Don said. “She and Lem had a Swap Shop in the old blacksmith shop. I worked there, too.”

Don became a master welder and blacksmithed as a hobby. He was making a rose for Ruth out of pewter. He was going to give it to her, but they didn’t connect. It was placed in her casket.

Ruth kept copious notes, and I found a eulogy reading, in part: “If my parting has left a void, then fill it with remembering joy.”

Ruth touched many lives and will be missed, as her life becomes part of the Grove City history she loved to share.

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Ruth Sawyer Jividen, 2012 when she was honored at the Civic Women’s Club of Grove City, Ohio.