As 2017 dwindles to a handful of calendar pages, I am taking pleasure in the luxury – and independence – of once again recording my weekly musings by means of my favorite piece of modern technology. It was perfectly fine to put pen to paper for five articles written in longhand, but I certainly missed my desktop computer’s automatic word count, easy editing, and Google capabilities, conveniences I have too often taken for granted. And I thank two typists willing to wade through my scribbles: Lynn White, who made sure the TWIG 13 article appeared in a timely manner; and Barb Sell, my incredible sister, who was a weekly trooper of typing and copy submission.
I must also mention the caring staff members who made my stay at McAuley Center as pleasant as possible considering the reasons for my time there. In any organization there is the upper echelon of managers and supervisors who, well, manage and supervise. Their work provides important policies and structure, but, I met no executives during my rehabilitation experience.
Rather, I was cared for and encouraged by aides and nurses and therapists. The STNA’s, LPN’s, and RN’s worked the front lines of my daily personal care and medications, and the PT’s and OT’s designed programs of therapeutic exercises to get me up and keep me moving. Through it all, they were unfailingly cheerful and solicitous.
What I most enjoyed was that all of us shared little pieces of our lives with one another. The staff patiently listened as I rattled on about my classroom adventures and family members. In return, I learned about their families, their hopes, their plans going forward, a few disappointments from the past. One nurse celebrated her pinning ceremony and a hard-won associate’s degree; an STNA dreamed aloud about perhaps pursuing courses in wholistic medicine; two different GHS grads-now-nurses and I reminisced about the old days in Falcon Land.
Some of our time on this planet consists of brief encounters and unscheduled intersections with strangers who have a unique capacity to make indelible impressions on our hearts and minds. If we choose, we all can be better for having shared even few paces on our travels through life, as I had the opportunity to do at McAuley Center.
There were other “individuals” who, by their very presence, made my sojourn charmingly enjoyable. I observed frequent performances on nature’s stage by a dozen or so deer romping and cavorting on the lawn just outside my window. According to the staff, this time of year is mating season for these graceful animals. That may be; I just know that I saw Bambi-esque creatures of all ages and sizes running and leaping under sunny skies as well as in the gentle snow of early December. They created tableaus I could – and did – watch almost every day.
The current plethora of deer at McAuley contrasts with infrequent deer sightings during my youth. It was a rare occurrence to have my father mention having seen a deer in the woods across River Road from our house, and I may even recollect seeing a flash of white tail from time to time.
In the past several years, however, I have encountered deer more than once sauntering along and across South High Street in Urbana; and I feel well-acquainted with the family of deer that bounds across the field behind my house. I am elated to have multiple opportunities nowadays to observe these gorgeous specimens of nature.
My room at McAuley was equipped with a phone, a real blast-from-the-past device: a princess phone. I read that production of these stylish phones, once available in soft, designer colors, ceased almost 25 years ago. How my teenaged self would have loved to have gossiped with my friends on a princess phone. After all, it was the latest thing back then.
The princess phone next to my bed at McAuley was white; its receiver contained push buttons for dialing, another feature considered new-fangled during the days of my youth. This throwback to earlier times served me quite well during my time away from home – although I really missed Caller ID!
Being a person who derives great inspiration from the words of others, I will close this final article of the year with three thoughts I plan to hold close as the new year dawns.
This year’s Christmas card from my alma mater, Otterbein University, contained a quotation to cap its year-long “Kindness Matters” campaign. In the words of novelist Henry James: Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
A friend, Connie Crocker, reminded me of John Wesley’s wise words: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
And here is a wish that talk show host Seth Meyers made to a young Army veteran: I hope that the worst experience of your life lies in the past and that the best experience of your life is yet to come.
With kindness and goodness and the promise of life’s best experience on the horizon, I wish everyone a great beginning to 2018!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.