Archive / Heroes

RSS feed for this section

Hats Off For Ruthe: Plus 5

Back in July of 2006, my sister and I threw a surprise birthday party in honor of our mother’s 80th birthday. Though Mom’s birthday is actually August 29, we chose a date a month early … hoping she’d never guess what we’d planned.  (I must quickly acknowledge my minimal role in organizing the event; my sister is a masterful party planner … I am not!)

It was a picturesque setting for a Saturday afternoon luncheon celebration. We were outdoors in historic Old St. Charles at a small restaurant with a quaint (but extended) cobblestone patio. (Here’s the website; see for yourself what a cute place it is!) The skies were overcast and it was muggy, but all the relatives shared the excitement and good wishes for Mom’s special day.

Halfway through lunch, the previously overcast skies opened up, dumping a torrential rain onto the overcrowded patio. Our lively group (about 40 of us) scrambled for cover! The inside dining room was hardly large enough, but we squeezed in tightly, and though thoroughly drenched, not willing to let the weather put a damper on our celebration.

That celebration toasted a remarkable woman (see my previous posts — here and here — about her). She’s always been a go-getter. Following Hurricane Katrina (in 2005), Mom traveled with a group from her church down to Louisiana to help in the cleanup. She’d never be satisfied to sit on the sidelines in a cushy spot and serve coffee; characteristic of her can-do spirit, she pulled on some well-worn garden gloves and helped haul debris. Continue Reading →

Tribute to Lewis

I can’t remember my first exposure to the writings of C. S. Lewis. (It may have been an early reading of Till We Have Faces.) Before ever having read one volume of the Narnia series, I encountered this myth retold. Did I understand the story? Probably not; maybe I identified with Orual’s ugliness? Something about it captured my youthful imagination.

One hundred and two years ago (in far-off Belfast, Northern Ireland), Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lewis welcomed their younger son into this world. Today, I gratefully celebrate Lewis’ life and work. Though I never met him, I have a vivid personal memory of his passing.

I was in junior high school, a disappointed student returning home from school earlier than expected because the school party and dance scheduled for that Friday evening (November 22, 1963) had been canceled at the last minute. (Not a fan of JFK, I admit I was miffed. Why cancel a party in Missouri when Kennedy had died in Dallas?!)CS Lewis Time Coverj8cov1101470908p Continue Reading →

Happy Birthday, Mamma!

Yesterday, August 29, was my mother’s 84th birthday. Without a doubt, she is one of the most amazing women I know. In spite of her age, her macular degeneration, and the usual aches and pains that accompany aging, she lives independently in a condo. (It’s located about 20 minutes from where my sister lives; the rest of us live in other states.) Still, whenever I’ve suggested Mom should sell her place and move in with one of her offspring (me!), she demurs. She really enjoys her independence!

Macular Degeneration has slowed Mom down, but she still uses the computer and occasionally drives (for the moment). I know it’s going to be hard on her when and if she has to stop driving, but she’s a realist and recognizes that day may come sooner than she’d like.

We’re going to a school reunion this Fall in her home town of Philadelphia. Likely, she’ll be the oldest attendee. Back in 2007, we journeyed there and it was as wonderful a trip for me as for her. I’d imagined her childhood, acknowledging how frightening it must have been for her to be shipped off to a school for fatherless girls when she was only six years old.

But seeing it, standing in the room where she laid her head every night and wandering the spacious campus … these things gave me a sense of how splendidly God had provided for my mom to be educated and nurtured, when her own daddy was unable, having passed on to his reward.

See that smile on her face? She’s almost always like that. She tackles every challenge with determination and an almost inexhaustible vitality. She’s a great role model! Happy Birthday, dear Mom. Hope you live to be at least 100!

TCO: Stepping Into a New World

My eldest grandson went to college today. He drove himself to the campus (about 30 miles away) but, uncertain the school would permit him to stay, he left all his belongings here at our home where he’s lived this past year.

A recent Eagle Scout, he earned two academic scholarships and will assume a student loan, but those won’t be enough to cover his expenses. The financial aid people suggested his parents could obtain an additional loan (to cover the difference), but because he’s “on his own” that loan is impossible. This boy, transitioning to manhood, is learning one of the hard lessons of adulthood:  finances can be a tricky thing.

He told us he believes God wants him at this university and he’s stepping forward in faith God will provide the funds. He’s animated, excited and energized, eager for the new challenges he sees before him.

He’s also subdued (scared, in fact) by the prospect it could all be yanked out of his grasp if the finances aren’t forthcoming and the school decides not to work with him on it. (He’s already committed to working 30 hours a week while he’s attending school, plus they’ve signed him up for a school work/study program.) Continue Reading →

“Freedom Has Never Been So Fragile”

Yesterday, I identified a point of agreement between myself and President Obama. Truthfully, there are probably very few things on which we would see eye-to-eye. But when Obama characterizes our present situation as a “mess,” I concur. I’m also reminded of another President who had a “mess” on his hands, but he handled it capably and our country was better for having had him in the White House.

Of course, his name was Ronald Reagan. He had confidence in the conservative message and he advanced it whenever possible. He was a man who stood on principle. (No, he wasn’t perfect; no one is.)

Because he believed in American exceptionalism, Reagan spent many years warning Americans about the evils of Communism. He also embraced a key Republican tenet:  reducing the size of government.

Many of Reagan’s speeches still have currency today. A Time For Choosing was delivered in October of 1964, during the final week of the ’64 presidential campaign pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. Continue Reading →

My Mom, Ruthe

In the summer of 2006, we held a surprise birthday party to honor my mother who was celebrating her 80th birthday. Just before Christmas that year, she suffered a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). We might have lost her.

MomDiagnosed with a genetic blood disorder, she received appropriate treatment which seemed incidental:  a small incision in Mother’s jugular vein, an Inferior Vena Cava Filter (IVC) implanted to avert pulmonary embolism, and daily anticoagulants. I think she got two stitches. In reality, the condition was not so incidental, and when my mother vaulted off the hospital bed to leave, the doctor gasped, fearful one of the clots might be loosed and immediately strike her dead … but my mom refuses to live in fear.

Watching TCM‘s Shirley Temple features the other night (Heidi and The Little Princess), I realized both story-lines parallel Ruthe’s early life. In both films, the central character is suddenly displaced, but she never despairs … she keeps her chin high, her shoulders back and a smile on her face. She brightens the corner wherever she is. In another film, The Little Colonel, the main character (played by Temple) receives an honorary regimental commission. Throughout her film career, Shirley represented the model “soldier” for boys and girls everywhere. Continue Reading →

One of My Heroes . . . RIP

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. Were he alive, Norman would be celebrating 88 years.

My dadHe was the first man who won my heart. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he loved my mother and did his best to provide her and their children a good life. Never having finished the eighth grade, he made his way with hard work and perseverance.

Norman served in the Army in World War II, one of the many who landed (and survived) on the beaches at Normandy. The emotional trauma of D-Day took its toll and he suffered what (in those days) was termed a “nervous breakdown.” Refusing to be sent home, he received hospital treatment and drove a supply truck back and forth to the front lines until the War ended. Continue Reading →

%d bloggers like this: