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.

If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy

If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy
By Liz Thompson
November 20, 2013

Everyone has many a story to tell. Is it “worth writing a book about” is a question I hear often from people with stories they think are worth the ink.

Recently, I was at Praises Books and Gifts in Lancaster where they hosted a book signing for my second book. Sitting with me was Kathleen Welty who has three stories in this book, along with 14 other contributors.

Since I live in Grove City and grew up in Westerville, Lancaster obviously is not my hometown but it is Kathleen’s. She let friends and family know of the event and many came to see her and meet me. The best experience of the day was meeting these old friends and family of Kathleen and others who attended.

Kathleen’s inspirational stories show how God has touched her life. All three were accepted by the publisher, while some others, by other people, were not. They didn’t fit the theme but were well written.

I fought for one of Kathleen’s stories to stay in the book. Three times it was cut and still kept showing up in a new working manuscript. The third time, I said that it must be meant to stay in and the publisher agreed.

This day, I met Kathleen’s longtime Campfire leader and we talked about how different it was from my Girl Scout experiences. Some friends since first grade showed up with smiling faces and warm memories.

One woman asked about getting published. She had heard of an online service where she could self-publish and she kept talking. When she stopped, I asked how much she had written.

“Nothing yet. But it’s about relationships,” she said.

“Is your goal to simply be published or to tell the story?” I asked.

Her answer was to tell me the experiences. I was hooked and told her I’d read it but she had to get writing. I suggested she sit and write from the heart telling the stories just like she told us that day.

“Don’t edit or worry about sentence structure, just write freely,” I said. “Edit later and do lots of it.”

Our Grove City Writers’ Group supports this idea of editing well and often and that editors are our friends. I have always believed that. We all agree, too, that we can’t have a thin skin if we are going to be writers — published or not. Not everyone reading our work will like it. I don’t like every book or article I read, do you?

Being published or seeing a byline really does hold a personal thrill but I believe writing is about expressing our thoughts, recording personal and family history, sharing our experiences and more. Most artists I know of different mediums are compelled to express themselves.

Also recently, I had the good fortune to talk with the Current Events group at the Upper Arlington Senior Center. They asked me to talk about my life as a writer. I still need to remind myself that, in fact, I am a writer. It’s such a natural act for me and I’ve been blessed with venues like this newspaper, magazines and my books to express my thoughts and experiences.

Having been a reporter in Upper Arlington for two years, this was especially pleasant for me. I did quite a few stories on members of this senior center and other senior citizens in this lovely burg. Their stories often were the stuff of history books, or what they should be.

My Uncle Walter and Aunt Eva Page lived there for years and of course I visited as a girl and as an adult. I used to love hearing my uncle tell stories of his life on the farm on the East Side of Columbus. He wrote them down for his grandsons. My father-in-law made tapes of his life in Southeast Ohio as a coal miner and all his other experiences.

Things I heard growing up from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents seemed so distant from the life I knew. But these are tales of the people who helped form America’s history. They lived it, fought in the wars for our freedom and raised families against many odds. We can learn from this generation and need to listen.

Many have written their stories and been published. But whether or not you get published, I encourage you to write, share and enjoy.