I keep stressing about situations over which I have no control. Leaders of world powers are rattling their sabers all over the globe. Too often we cannot discuss with family members and friends the weighty issues being debated in legislatures and courtrooms across the country – including determining who is in charge of whose bodies. Meanwhile, the political polarization paralyzing us is making a difficult decision harder: do we truly want to squander our democratic way of life in favor of some form of autocracy?
My defense against such doom-and-gloom is to temporarily ignore it all; after all, these problems and more will follow us right into 2022. So I have determined to spend this final fortnight of the year in relative peace on earth. To that end, here is what has recently made me smile – or at least given purposeful pause.
~It is smiles all around at the sweet silence of NO MORE MEDICARE COMMERCIALS!
~Following my recollections of memorable school experiences, I read of exciting new-generation classroom adventures. Hi-Point instructor and Graham Middle School FFA advisor Ali Luttrell Peterson encourages chapter members to complete projects for the benefit of others: growing marigolds to help elementary students create planters for Mother’s Day and donating homegrown lettuce to a local shelter. And district preschoolers enjoyed a book walk through the GMS land lab. Lauren Buell knows how to deliver language arts lessons to eighth-graders, as reflected in this note from a former student. “Freshman year is going great…I kept all my grammar and writing lessons, and they have helped a lot…I wouldn’t have a love for English or for reading if it were not for you…I started Wuthering Heights …it has been difficult to keep up because of the time it was written, but I’m trying!” By the way, my Falcon smile is broad: Ms. Peterson and Ms. Buell are Graham graduates!
~I am still grinning about this Facebook message from fellow Graham grad, Del Markley: “While eating lunch today, I saw something unusual: a four-foot-tall robot came down the aisle saying, “Here I come.” The back of the robot had four shelves holding food platters. After the waitress served the food, the robot returned to the kitchen. It had a flat panel that showed a face. It was kind of cute…”
~I usually feel happily complimented when readers hear my voice as they read my articles…until I wonder how I really sound: shrill, grating, foghornish, or JUST REALLY LOUD?
~ In 1997 Troy Roberts from CBS chronicled the experiences of an American couple who traveled to Russia to adopt a nine-year-old girl and a baby boy. Soon the girl grew cold and distant. The new parents took her from psychiatrist to psychiatrist, especially when she began hallucinating and threatened to drop the baby over a railing. They took her back to Russia for treatment in a mental institution there and left without telling her they would not return. Twenty years later the same reporter, preparing an update, learned that the unadopted girl was back in the United States, happily married and mother to four children of her own. After her release from the mental facility, the head of the original orphanage had moved to the U.S. and took her along. The young woman holds no ill feelings against the parents who abandoned her, explaining she never saw visions or tried to kill the baby. Her new parents themselves had turned cold and distant, lavishing their attention on the baby boy. She lives a joyful life, completely without regret.
On a positive note: the couple that kept one child and gave the other back are living with three daughters of their own; their adopted son is married. And the reporter? In 2004 Troy Roberts himself adopted a mixed-raced toddler from a woman in Africa who wanted a better life for her son. Today that young man is healthy and devoted to his father.
Three happy endings – I am smiling through my tears!
~Sadly, Senator Bob Dole was laid to rest last week, and yet it was uplifting to hear the tributes for the wounded Army veteran who continued to serve his country until the end of his life.
Senator Dole’s chief-of-staff shared one of his favorite poems at the funeral on Thursday. The poem by Linda Ellis gives me powerful pause.
“I read of a man who stood to speak / At the funeral of a friend / He referred to the dates on the tombstone / From the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth / And spoke the following with tears, / But he said what mattered most of all / Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time / That he spent alive on earth. / And now only those who loved him / Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, / The cars…the house…the cash / What matters is how we live and love / And how we spend our dash.
We should just slow down enough / To consider what’s true and real / And always try to understand / The way other people feel.
So, when your eulogy is being read / With your life’s actions to rehash… / Will you be proud if the things they say /About how you spent YOUR dash?”
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.