Since joining Facebook 10 years ago to keep track of far-flung family and friends, I have also used the platform to share my weekly column. I post little else besides occasional congratulatory comments.
I pore over family pictures and enjoy photographs of sunsets and flowers. I ignore lots of political foolishness and hide anything smacking of misinformation or conspiracy theories.
However, I especially look forward to comments by my Facebook friends. When they share emotions from their hearts, when they describe events from a personal perspective, when they express themselves originally and sincerely, this writer stops to read – and read again.
For example, former GHS teaching colleague, Bonnie McGuire, shared this vignette after I wrote about military songs: Your article brought to mind an occasion when I attended an outdoor band concert with my parents. At the end of the show, they played the “Armed Forces Medley,” inviting service members to stand when their song was played. Dad was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. Sure enough, when the Air Force song began, he popped up, stood ramrod straight, chest out, so proud. Tears were streaming down my face.
Last week I mentioned back-to-school sales. Proving you can take teachers out of the classroom, but they never really retire, two former educators commented.
I totally identify with this reply by my cousin, Cheryl Siegenthaler, UHS junior English teacher before she left the classroom for the ministry: Was summer ever truly three months long? It seemed to me that even without students around, my mind was always in teaching prep mode – I can use that in class, I’ll pick up a copy of that book for possible use, those vacation photos can be used for poetry prompts or story setting ideas. But to sort through and disperse and dispose of said items upon retirement took every bit of three months or five or a year or two…
Katha Dill, veteran Graham elementary teacher, offered a different take: When I was teaching, I’d buy enough boxes of Crayola crayons for the whole class when on sale before school started. I would save them until Christmas as a gift from me. They always needed new crayons for the second semester. There’s just something about a box of new crayons! I still can’t resist buying some when they are on sale. This morning at Walmart I bought a couple boxes of the regular ones for 50 cents a box but had to have COLORS OF THE WORLD, too…How wonderful that children can find a crayon to match their skin tone when drawing pictures of themselves.
I wrote recently about inspiration. Last Wednesday, Holly Hess shared her thoughts about life since the automobile/train accident that has confined her to a wheelchair for more than three decades: Today marks 31 years of the anniversary of our accident. When I got up this morning, I felt some peace about today. It’s kinda weird because 31 years ago, I was at Ohio State hospitals.
Trust me, there are many ways for me to look at this day. I can look at what I lost or I can look at what I’ve gained. I do know that I had (still have) three guardian angels that encourage me (Brad Kennedy, Chad Kennedy, Harold Wayne Woodrum). The three of them have always stood by me through it all. I’ll never forget how much they’ve done for me.
I met an awesome nurse (Janelle Janowiecki) who was the only person I felt a connection to and was able to be honest with on what I was feeling. I know she’s wanted to smack me a time or two. We are still in contact to this day.
Then, there are my parents. They were in it for the long haul. They could have stuck me in a nursing home. Dad is the one who says, “You wanna tube behind a boat? Okay, let’s do it.” Mom is the one who says, “NO, you don’t! You could get hurt!” I’ve already had 2nd and 3rd degree burns from a four-wheeler muffler, broken my left leg deer hunting, and given myself a concussion and a broken ankle.
I promise you everything I’ve done has been awesome. I know that most people wouldn’t be able to live my life because my day is different than most – I just can’t get up and walk to the bathroom; there’s a process. Do I get annoyed because people stare at me when I go somewhere? Yes. Do I get annoyed when an able-bodied person parks in a handicapped parking place or blocks the curb ramp? Sure do! Do I get annoyed at how people treat somebody who has a disability? Yes.
But I can and have done a lot of things people who are able-bodied haven’t done or won’t do. God isn’t done using me to try to make a difference. I do know that things could have been different – I believe in my heart that if I had had a seatbelt on, I wouldn’t be here today. God is GOOD.
By the way, over the years Holly has written thousands and thousands of letters to American military service members. By the way, Holly wants to investigate ziplining and parasailing. By the way, Holly is back in college studying to be a math teacher. By the way, Holly is the very definition of inspiration…
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.