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.

 

MS changes lives, families

Day by day

MS changes  lives, families
By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Tuesday March 18, 2014

Tim and Tyler Heaton, 19, of Westerville, know firsthand that life holds no guarantees. “Many people take things for granted such as financial stability and a healthy family,” Tim said.

“I have learned that these things are not guaranteed.” Tyler added, “We have kept a positive family attitude which has had a huge impact on our lives.”

Their mom, Leeandra, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. Tim and Tyler were 10. They remember the day the world changed for all of them when she couldn’t get out of bed and had to be hospitalized. They had planned a vacation with another family, and their mother insisted they go without her. Their sister, Brynna, 8, stayed home.

Tim said, “Upon returning home, my mom explained that the doctors believed her to have multiple sclerosis, and I recall just blankly staring and — as much as I hate to admit it — just dismissing it as some kind of ailment obtained from age. I first thought that she would simply take some kind of medication to get better or go through physical therapy to strengthen her body, but I turned out to be incorrect about a lot of those things.”

“When anyone hears someone say that they have a cold or strep throat … people always say, ‘I hope you feel better and take it easy,’ but when a 10-year-old hears the word ‘disease,’ there is a different reaction,” Tyler said. “I did what I was best at and just smiled and said everything was going to be OK. This was not the day that we as a family really understood that this disease was going to negatively impact our life.”

These boys reacted much like anyone might without knowing exactly what this diagnosis might mean. Their comments make perfect sense, especially given their age at the time. Years later, their compassion for their mom has only deepened.

The twins each won a scholarship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that is helping them as electrical engineering students at Ohio State University.

Tim uses a metaphor to express his thoughts. “If high tide and low tide are compared to sunrise and sunset, then everything in between can be compared as the events in a day. If the ocean is calm and predictable, it is manageable and pleasant. Once the storm hits, though, the ocean no longer is simply ‘manageable.’

“Rather, there are precautions, steps and planning that is necessary to ride these waves. I sailed the waves, and sailing the roaring ocean has taught me life lessons that I feel that some people will not realize for several years, specifically that financial stability and a healthy family are taken for granted. Growing up in a not-as-typical environment prepared me for college and the world ahead of me, and I am quite thankful for everything that has happened to me up to date.”

When their mom was diagnosed with MS, things became financially difficult. The process to apply for Social Security benefits is long and tedious.

The family chooses to turn it into a positive outcome. When her MS flares up, they make sure that everything else she experiences is positive.

Leeandra said the disease brought changes to her life, but it has not taken joy away. “I think that when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what to expect. I have figured out that it is just best to not expect the worst.”

“(We) believe that all a bad situation needs is a little bit of happiness to fix things,” Tyler said.

March is MS Awareness Month. More than 20,000 people in Ohio have MS and, as you can see, it affects the entire family.

When I was diagnosed in 1987, there were no drugs for MS. That was 27 years ago, and thanks to research, there are now 10. The largest portion of donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is used for research and programs for those living with MS.

MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms are unpredictable, ranging from numbness and weakness to total paralysis. It is typically diagnosed between ages 20-50, although the disease has been diagnosed in children as young as 3, with an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 children under the age of 18 living with MS.

The Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society offers assistance and information for people living with MS and their families.

For more information, call 1-800-FIGHT-MS (344-4867) or http://www.msohiobuckeye.org/

Simple Gifts

High schooler believes in power of a simple gift
By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Thursday January 3, 2013 11:40 AM

She sees God in simple gifts.

“I trust in God more than ever (now) and make my decisions by His word and what He would do rather than what’s popular or what I want,” Kristina Myers of Grove City said. This year she was coordinator for Operation Christmas Child for her church, St. John’s Lutheran in Grove City.

Simple gifts, yes, but not simple decisions or tasks.

Kristina shadowed the coordinator of this project last year and knew that in order to do that job, she had to make some decisions. When she was not able to help as much as she wanted due to marching band competitions, she opted to drop band.

“I was sad to give up marching band, but I knew that this was the plan God had for me,” she said.

The Central Crossing High School sophomore chose instead to run cross country. Her coach, Doug Boggs, never blinked an eye when he learned what she was doing at her church.

“God provided me with an awesome coach who totally believes in Operation Christmas Child and putting God first,” Kristina said. “I never had to miss a meet but I did have to leave practice early quite a few times for things regarding this project. My coach was always very supportive.”

Doug said Kristina is a great person and hard worker, no matter what she’s doing.

“It truly has been a blessing to have Kristina and her family become a part of the cross country and track programs. Kristina’s mom and dad have been great helping out with the team needs. It’s obvious to see where Kristina gets her kind and giving spirit,” Boggs said.

This project, founded in 1990, is led by Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded in 1970, to give kids all over the world something they normally wouldn’t have — a Christmas. Kristina said that churches and people across the United States take a simple shoebox, fill it with items that include toys, hygiene items, school supplies, other small items like socks or sunglasses and sometimes a personal note.

“This project is bigger than just shoebox gifts; it’s the power of a simple gift. This one shoebox brings the word of God into the life of a child.”

The work is done and Kristina Myers can look back with a grateful heart.

“If I had to thank one specific person it would be (one of my youth leaders) Laurie Pecuch or my mom,” Kristina said. “Mom taught me to love God, helped with transportation and anything that needed done.

“Laurie was a big help when it came to planning, organizing, getting in touch with others, and making the project something our whole church was excited to participate in.”

Pecuch said, “She is devoted to helping children in poverty-stricken countries know first-hand the joy that comes from receiving a gift of love at Christmas. Her devotion, sacrifice, and time spent in leading this project are noteworthy. She collected 169 shoeboxes full of gifts and love.”

Although Kristina coordinated these efforts, she said her family and friends provided invaluable support and flexibility. The church’s high school and middle school youth shopped and had a packing party. They put donated items and things they purchased with money gifts into the decorated shoe boxes, checking to make sure everything was ready before they were dropped off at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church — the official drop-off location.

The boxes soon were on their journey to a child somewhere in the world.

The idea that Christmas is a time for giving is nothing new to Americans. Often the gift giving and wish lists get out of hand and we don’t worry so much about the national debt as our own debt.

What do we have to sacrifice to buy the gifts on our list? Or should we simply rethink our gift giving and consider the real reason we have Christmas?

Kristina made her choice knowing the recipients will never know her name. She has heard stories how one shoebox changed a child’s life.

“I am so blessed to be able to show God’s love to others through this project, and tell people I don’t even know that I love them and that they have a Father in heaven who loves them even more. This project is life-changing.”

That’s what Christmas is about.

Fourth Graders at Grove City Christian School

The students of Sarah Stedtefeld read the book The Landry News by Andrew Clements. She asked if I would talk with them about writing for a newspaper. It was a great time and these – very tall – 4th graders were polite, enthusiastic and asked great questions.

Here they are and I’m the short one with gray hair in the back.