Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Woods Colt

Columbus Turner Shaw


Meet my great grandfather Columbus Turner Shaw, and his fiddle. This is a scan right out of my grandmother’s “The Shaw Family” album. She had two others: “The Wilkerson Family” and “Our Family”. Almost every time I visited her for years and years, she and I would get out those three small albums, and we would pour over the pictures as she told me about the relatives I’d never known and  we’d talk about  the much younger images of those I did know.

Every family has scandalous and sad stories that are told quietly and privately as well as the funny ones, and touching ones, and proud ones. As long as my grandfather lived, Mama Shaw was kinda forgetful about Lum’s daddy and his people.

“What was Louisa’s father’s name?” I asked.
“David,” she replied.
“David what?”
“David Shaw.”
"His last name was Shaw?!"
"Un-huh."
“Were she and her husband cousins?”
(pause) "I don’t know?”

After Daddy Shaw was no longer there to overhear, she was willing to spill the beans. Or maybe at sixteen, she thought I was old enough to know.

Lum Shaw has been gone for 60 years and the “shame” is 130 years old or so. Now it’s just a human interest story, so I’ll spill the beans, too.  Y'all are old enough to know.

Lum was part of his father’s “other” family.  He was what we euphemistically might call a “woods colt.” Louisa, the sharecropper’s young daughter had borne several children for a well-to-do landowner.

John Treadwell kept his second family well-housed. Over the years he gave Louisa at least three houses. During our drives around Conyers and Lithonia Mama Shaw pointed all three out to me, but I could show you only one of them now. Before the depression Louisa’s little family owned a fair amount of land right where I-20 crosses from Rockdale to DeKalb County.  His “legitimate” family never recognized the connection. The descendants of the illegal union have spread around the world. At least two have worked in the White House advising presidents. And I can't be too upset about them since I owe my very existence to their misbehavior.

My grandmother said that Lum was embarrassed when he had to fill out some paperwork (was it draft papers?) because he had to admit that he was "illegitimate."

Columbus Turner Shaw kept his father’s picture on the mantle, even after his marriage, but his stubborn beloved, Minnie Ziporah Wood Shaw, would turn it to the wall whenever he left the house.

John Treadwell  (I may have inherited his hairline.)

They were a musical bunch. As you see, Lum played the violin. His daughter Lillie Maud (Named, I suppose after Minnie’s twin sister Maudie) was an expert pianist and the youngest boys, Alton and Alvin played guitar. The eldest of his sons, my grandfather Grady, played trombone.

Minnie and Columbus Shaw with their elder three children, 
(l-r) Lewis, Curtis and Grady (my grandfather)

Besides his musical skills Lum was also an expert cabinet-maker and is said to have built furniture for lots of the upper crust folks in Atlanta including at least one governor.

He had a stroke and was an invalid for several years before his death in his seventies. His was the first funeral I ever attended and I remember it vaguely. Minnie lived to 97, but dealt with dementia for a decade or so. She was a small and beautiful old lady, always tidy and with gleaming white well-coifed hair. I sat with her on our back porch in Rome trying to coax some family stories from her. My brother David running in and out of the house kept interrupting us. Each time he did, time and again, Granny Shaw would grin wide and ask with complete innocence and delight, “And who is THIS!”

Louisa Shaw's grave, Shaw Family cemetery, between Lithonia and Conyers, GA:

Louisa Shaw
Born Aug. 31, 1842
Died Feb 26, 1932
She was a kind and affectionate wife, a fond mother, and a friend to all.

I've written about this before here:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hundred Year Eyes: The Best Christmas Present Ever




It feels like a miracle.  But it wasn’t. 

Like most civic victories it took the blood, sweat, and tears of many over many years.

First I apologize for those I will leave out. Hundreds of people helped in one way or another. What did they have in common? They used their hundred-year-eyes. 

It goes back to folks like Phillip and Mildred Greear, Charlie and Betty Patterson, Ted Touchstone, and MANY more who said “NO!” to those who said we should sell off the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Floyd County in the eighties. It goes back to MacLean Marshall, Terry Dollar, Elizabeth Neal, Margie Harbin, Wilson Hall, Lewis Lipps and many more who said an undisturbed forest within the city limits is a treasure worth preserving. It goes back to many of those same folks and Jerry Brown, Mary Lucchese and many others who got Coosa River Basin Initiative going. Later Mitch Lawson, Katie Owens and others pitched in raising the awareness of the value of our wetlands and watersheds and flood plains.

And then one day developers decided to go after 80 acres of greenspace in downtown Rome surrounding Burwell Creek, the potential connective tissue between our wonderful Jackson Hill Trails and Ridge Ferry Park and our magnificent Riverwalk. They would, they proposed, bulldoze it, haul in thousands of dumploads of fill, and cover it with parking lots, apartments, and a strip mall. All the commissioners seemed to favor the development except for one articulate opponent, Sue Hamler Lee. 


CRBI got busy. They researched. They consulted. They asked questions. They told the community and they educated the city commission and city staff. Joe Cook, Amos Tuck, and many others began to raise the idea that instead of parking lots and strip malls, this land would be better used as the parkland the WPA thought it would be when they built those rock walls, culverts and bridges on Jackson Hill, that our city officials and parks and recreation workers thought it would be when they built and rebuilt the duck pond, that the Celanese (or was it Tubize) folks thought when they donated that land to the city.

As a result many of us signed petitions, wrote letters, and attended meetings and meetings and meetings. During those years Sue Lee found an ally in opposing the project in new Commissioner Wendy Davis. Wendy knows how to do homework.

But still the 80-acre greenspace was slated for a big apartment complex and a strip mall. The plan was secured by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the commission and repeated extensions of that MOU as deadlines approached and tenants hadn't been found.

Then with only a few weeks to go before the 2015 City Commission election, a few of us decided we needed to “get political” if things were going to change. So we organized the Save Rome’s Central Park committee. We jumped through the hoops necessary to register with the state as a frankly political organization. We held a small meeting at my house and tried to think of some strategy that could make plain to the city commission the unpopularity of burying the duck pond, encroaching on the Burwell Creek wetland, and destroying the Burwell woods.

Qualifying was over. There were four candidates for Ward One and four candidates for Ward Three. We noticed something interesting. All of the commissioners up for re-election supported the development. Two of the challengers opposed the project and another had reservations and was determined not to extend the MOU again.

That’s when we came up with one of the wildest political ideas ever. We decided to endorse ALL THREE challengers, Sundai Stevenson, Craig McDaniel, and even the young, earnest but inexperienced and, frankly, strangely-named Abeed Bawa, and to actively oppose ALL incumbents.

We knew we were mathematically condemned to failure in a way. There would be six winners no matter what, and we were supporting only three candidates. But we felt IF we could elect one or two (maybe in our wildest dreams even Abeed would win, but no one expected that) and IF we could obviously suppress the vote of the incumbents it would send the clear message of what we knew from our talks with folks all over town: The people did NOT want this 80 acres sold!

We walked neighborhoods and made phone calls in the Town Rome precinct, but with only a short time to campaign we mostly conducted a FaceBook campaign. Our Save Rome’s Central Park page grew to nearly 2000 followers in a matter of days. We produced dozens of graphics showing the map of the property with diagrams of possible ways to incorporate it into a Central Park. We made amateur videos of real Romans talking about why they loved this property and their dreams for it and their history with it. We took pictures to illustrate the beauty and the biological diversity of the space and its vital role in preserving water quality. And we shared them and shared them and shared them.

AND we elected two challengers and managed a thousand votes for Abeed. (In Town Rome where we actually had  a ground campaign he came in third!) We defeated the most outspoken supporter of the project, and we held the incumbents who were re-elected to much smaller margins that the two newly-elected challengers. In the process, in an off year election when there was NOTHING else on the ballot, we had double the turnout of surrounding counties. The message was sent.

In our first major impact from the election, the apartment complex was removed from the project.

Meanwhile the CRBI leaders were busy trying to work out modifications that would lessen the impact of the remaining parts of the project if they could not be stopped. That resulted in another major victory. The developers agreed to put the bulk of the property in a land trust and allow trails and boardwalks to be built across it.

Still they intended to bulldoze and fill the Duck Pond area and find tenants for commercial development of those seven or eight acres. We fought tooth and nail to retain that last slice for the people of Rome as well, but the compromise was passed.

That is where we have stood for a year. We celebrated our victory but still could not help but mourn the loss of the last bit of greenspace right on our major thoroughfare and the much loved Duck Pond.

But developers evidently discovered during 2017 that this project, so obviously unpopular with Rome’s people, is also unpopular with prospective tenants. We had said the property was worth much more than the $600,000 the city was paid for it, and sure enough, when that remnant seven or or eight acres were assessed, they were declared, I have heard from one source, to be worth about a million dollars an acre. Another source says the $7 million was for 57 acres. Either way, $600,000 for those 80 acres was an incredible bargain. Except. Maybe not. Without sufficient tenants and with the prospects of paying taxes yearly on such expensive property, the developers made the decision announced last night.

Wow.

If I understand rightly:
• the city keeps the $600K
• the property is returned, all 80+ acres, to the ownership of the people of Rome.
• the approximately $100K of property tax owed by the developers is forgiven.
• the property must be used as parkland.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Well, we have some very pleasant challenges before us. But we also have a half million dollars that, I believe, should be spent on integrating this marvelous re-gifted 80 acres with our other Central Park components: the RiverWalk, Ridge Ferry Park, the ECO Center, Jackson Hill, the Amphitheatre/Civic Center complex, and Blossom Hill.

This is a tremendous victory, not for seventy-year-olds like me, but for Romans unborn who will enjoy beautiful trails, protected natural areas, wildlife viewing stations right in the heart of the much larger Rome of 2117 and who, just maybe will read somewhere, that Romans a hundred years before decided to pass this treasure forward to them.

Thank you to the Ledbetter family for your action last night in bringing, when we had thought part of it was gone forever, Rome’s "Central Park" closer to the whole that we have dreamed of. It was the best business decision, I'm sure, but it was also the right civic decision.

And, though I dare not begin to name more names, thank you to all the volunteers of "Save Rome's Central Park" and CRBI and Marshall Forest and INFO (Individuals for National Forest Outcry!) and their predecessors ... those of the last three years, and of the last fifty years, and of even the last over-150 years. You looked beyond the present and worked to leave an ever more beautiful Rome to posterity.



Monday, September 25, 2017

Taking a Knee, Respectfully.

I have come around on the Take A Knee thing. I might choose a different way to protest but I especially appreciate those who take a knee while placing a hand on their heart. To me that is a solemn statement of sad recognition that we are not living up to the sacrifices of those revered heroes who have gone before:
• when people are killed because of the color of their skin,
• when a president condemns Americans who stand or kneel for their beliefs but laughs with and downright grovels toward Russians who tried (and succeeded IMO) in subverting our republic.

Taking a knee with hand (or cap) on heart, is opposite of disrespectful it seems to me. How can that be read as disrepectful? It is peaceful. It is quiet. It is, in fact, respectful in every way. It seems a cry of sorrow that our nation is not living up to its heritage, to our noble founding tenets. Anyone who considers "Taking A Knee" as being disrespectful to our "..flag... and the republic for which it stands" isn't paying attention. And I like that the second player, not comfortable with kneeling himself, places his hand on his teammates shoulder to support the right of his friend to express his beliefs.

Given the controversy, I'd prefer these folks find a different way to protest. But I also realize that this brings great attention to their cause, and it is an issue that needs great attention.

CPR for my out-dated iPhone...

Please excuse my rant:

I have been aggravated about my iPhone for weeks. It has slowly discharged and inconsistently charged. At times, do what I would, it would not charge. I lost service altogether for hours. I tried every charging option I have access to with inconsistent results.

When I took it to the Verison store where I bought it, the guy expressed shock that I still tried to get by with an old model (iPhone 6plus) and tried to sell me a new one. Sorry, but I expect my phone to last longer than two years. I even suggested that maybe the port just needed cleaning? He said I needed to wipe the memory and restore the phone to its original settings.

Today I took it to CPR (Cell Phone Repair) on Shorter Ave at Elizabeth St. The guy took about 30 seconds to diagnose the problem and returned it to proper order within a minute or so and charged me absolutely nothing. It is charging as we speak at full tilt.

The problem: pocket lint in the port.

Granted, you'd think at 70 I'd have enough common sense to keep a can of compressed air and blow out the dadgum port myself every now and then. But give me a break, Verison. You are so intent on selling new phones you can't check for lint in the port before you recommend trashing the phone and upgrading?

So: I highly commend for your consideration CPR for cellphone repair. Verison? Not so much.

https://www.cellphonerepair.com/rome-ga/



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yes to Development

A year ago we were in a battle to preserve a full 80 acres of city-owned parkland.





I lead a group of children and parents on a tour of the wetlands and the "Duck Pond."



One child marches through what was, till the recent drought, a beaver pond.





These kids fought with us adults to save the beloved "Duck Pond" area from development. 

We gathered for the walk at the city amphitheater directly across little Dogwood Road from the area slated for a strip mall.

In that fight we had to fend off accusations of being "tree-huggers" who oppose all development. That has never been true. Barring an international disaster, Rome WILL be further developed. Everyone knows that. The question is whether that development will be haphazard and led by profiteers or led by city leaders with eyes for posterity, what I like to call "Hundred Year Eyes".

These wildflowers will be buried under many feet of fill material needed to raise the "Duck Pond" area slated to be completely filled to bring it to the level of Riverside Parkway.


Well, we lost the "Duck Pond" but we managed to preserve 70 acres of the property for our kids and grandkids under a permanent land bank agreement. Eventually that greenspace will be crossed with trails and boardwalks connecting our Jackson Hill Park with our Ridge Ferry Park and making, at least de facto, the Central Park we have dreamed of.

The children examine the hoof prints of deer in the dried mud of the "Duck Pond". This area will be buried under 20 feet or more of fill.


Now we have an opportunity to put our votes behind some sensible development. The 2017 Splost and E-Splost votes deserve your support. They do NOT infringe significantly on floodplain, but instead provide city and county support to responsible development AND preservation.

Walking through the beaver pond area.

For an example: the North Fifth Avenue section of downtown is , let's face it, in real need of a facelift. By the city extending the Streetscape from the river to Avenue A will make that biut of downtown much more attractive for citizens and visitors, and encourage responsible and attractive business growth.


The dried up "Duck Pond".

In a hundred years, when our eyes are closed, our foresight will be recognised by the cititizens of a much larger Rome. Like we praise the Nobles for building that controversial City Clocktower, and Daniel Mitchell for making our center thoroughfare TWO chains wide earing it the right to be a truly Broad Street", and Max Meyerhardt and others for planting a big library in the heart of town, and Casey Hine and others for reviving a "ghost town" downtown with the Streetscape program.









































The idea of what the Fifth Avenue enhancements might look like.


The whole group.

One of the entrances to the beaver lodge.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Our Two-Cents Worth

Our Two-Cents Worth
The penny we and our county's visitors pay toward upgrading educational facilities is a great bargain. I have watched that penny build critically needed classrooms onto my beloved fourth-grade wing at Armuchee Elementary School. I taught in one of those added classrooms for a dozen years. I try to remember every time I pay that penny on each dollar: what a bargain I'm getting.
Local Option Sales Taxes are a vital way for local communities to fund the public facilities the community itself chooses as important. In November we have the opportunity to continue the sales tax at the current level. The sales tax is paid not only by you and me the proud citizens of Floyd, but also by every customer of Floyd County businesses who comes here from Chattooga or Walker or Gordon or Bartow or Polk or Cherokee (AL) to enjoy paddling our rivers, eating at our restaurants, or visiting our symphony or theater or rock or sports or festival events. So I am pleased to support BOTH the Education AND the regular SPLOST for renewal. Those two cents are a pretty doggone painless way to fund some very important projects.
Rome and Floyd County are found regularly on lists of great places to live. Attractive and effective school facilities, parks, kayak and boat launches, good water and sewage treatment facilities, well-equipped police and fire departments, and even riverwalks, golf courses, tennis centers, all contribute to that. They bring jobs and economic development to our community every year. 
As a teacher in the Armuchee community for many years I have seen the need to upgrade our high school facility. It is past time. The penny we and visitors pay in sales tax for education purposes is a great bargain. The penny we and visitors pay for other public projects is also a great bargain.
Keep sales taxes right where they are for continued progress, jobs, and responsible economic growth in Rome and Floyd County. Vote yes, twice!
That's our two-cents worth.
‪#‎RomeFloydSplostYES‬
#RomeFloydEsplost

Saturday, August 05, 2017

August 4, 1983

I was busy trying to finish painting to get the upstairs ready for the carpet layers the next morning when I heard Sheila call me down. She said we'd better start timing contractions and get ready to head to the hospital.
I remember like yesterday, a little later, driving down Cedar Avenue in the dark, my beautiful courageous Sheila hissing through another contraction beside me, and thinking: “Our lives are about to be forever changed.” We pulled off of Second Avenue/Martha Berry (what do you call that little section of road) to park at the emergency entrance to Floyd Hospital. We made our way across the parking lot, pausing often for Sheila to hug a car hood while she dealt with the next contraction. 
Once into the labor and delivery rooms I witnessed the sweet bravery of Sheila Matthews Shaw as she worked to birth a baby, a process correctly labelled "labor". Brannon Shaw was born at 3:31 the next morning. I was privileged to hold her and bathe her with warm water. 
I slept on the floor for a couple of hours once we got into a room, then had to rise and leave my beloved new baby and Sheila, to drive along city streets blurred by tears of joy, wonder, and exhaustion to meet our dear friend Cotton Franklin at the house, so we could finally get that upstairs straight enough for the carpet layers to do their job bright and early of the fourth of August 1983. (Thank you Cotton wherever you are!) 
On this special day, 34 years later, Brannon is sharing a honeymoon, camping in the Rockies, with the son she has now joined to our little family, John Carlin
What a blessing to our lives Brannon has been.
Happy Birthday and unending love to our first baby, Brannon Ruth Shaw Carlin.
(This slide show is a decade old now!)
Miscellaneous pictures from the Life of Brannon Shaw born 24 years ago tonight.
YOUTUBE.COM

Judgment, Decision, Promise

A friend asked:

What words changed your life-for the better or the worse?

There is a clear frontrunner for the single quote that most immediately changed my life for the better.

I'd been wrestling with "What is love?" Earlier that year I had been dating a girl who wanted me to make up my mind. She was sweet and smart and attractive, but so were others! What makes it "true" love?

Then I read these words in 1970. They struck a chord with my heart.

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

Love is a decision!

Of course there must be attraction -- physical, emotional, intellectual -- but, given that, we have some say about it.

So I sat down and made a list. (I learned that from my eldest sister.)

Lo, and behold, Sheila Ann Matthews of the long blond hair, sweet smile, brilliant mind, unending kindness, and very nice other features migrated to the top of that list.



So I asked her out. And she replied with the other important quote in my life:

"Okay, but you'd better be serious about it this time."

I was.

The rest is glorious and ongoing, and mostly blissful, history. The decision/promise/vow carries us through the less-than-blissful parts.  

Here is a post on the topic from over a decade ago:
http://aloneonalimb.blogspot.com/2005/12/true-love-links.html

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Among American Presidents There Are the First 44 and Then There's Trump

Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington, as much as we all admire him, was far from perfect. He made major blunders as a general. At Valley Forge he stayed mighty comfortable while his men were suffering. Lordy, the man kept many of his fellow human beings in bondage. And among his successors there are 43 other flawed men counting flawed Cleveland twice. 
Jackson was downright homicidal. 
Jackson betrayed the Cherokee, defied the Supreme Court, and caused the infamous Trail of Tears.
Several were horribly unfaithful to their wives. 
FDR & Lucy Mercer
Andrew Johnson drank too much and was sometimes less than stable. 
I believe both Nixon and Reagan rationalized near, if not outright, treason. 

But I trust presidents 1 through 44 each and every one loved his country and wanted what was best for it. 
I have no such trust in #45.

The Washington Post is reporting tonight that #45 has his legal team investigating whether he can pardon himself, his family, and staff members. According to the Supreme Court (Burdick vs. US, 1915) “a pardon, to be effective, must be accepted [because it] carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.”
Donald Trump's psychological disabilities put him in a class that is not reasonably comparable, in my settled opinion, with Nixon in Watergate, Reagan in Iran-Contra, or Clinton's or JFK's or Ike's or FDR's or Harding's marital infidelity, etc.

Donald John Trump is sick and dangerous. 
That is fact and I have no need to reargue the obvious.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 
Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:
  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Disagree? 
That's your right and that's fine. Write about it elsewhere. 
I love my friends and family who disagree, and admire each in many ways, but at seventy I just do not care to countenance in this speace equating the evil of Donald John Trump with the run-of-the-mill human frailties of previous presidents. That argument is over on this wall and has been for two years (or maybe thirty).
I am not interested in relitigating the clear fact that #45 is mentally, morally, ethically, psychologically, in a whole 'nother universe from numbers 1-44. Here and on my Facebook page I will continue to remind folks of Trump's evil. And I will work in every moral and ethical and legal way I can come up with to stymie, impeach, and/or convict him till I die or Trump is out of the office he is currently profaning. As of January 20, 2017 evil is occupying our unitary executive. 
Patriots must resist.

And to boot...

For the moment...
...forget his history of fraud,
...let slide the abysmal ignorance
...overlook his spying on naked girls,
...never mind his sexual predation,
...dismiss his debts and bankruptcies,
...forgive his unending lies,
...excuse the broken promises,
...think no more of the birther business,
...condone his bromance with the Murderer of Moscow,
...ignore Junior's treason and the daughter's business conflicts,
...minimize his small-hands insecurities,
...let pass the petty tweets.
The healthcare fiasco of the last week makes palpable and indisputable what most Americans have known since the early days of the transition: this is easily the least competent president in our nation's history.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Legacies

A picture on Facebook this morning reminded me of someone else, Sarah Colley.



Sarah Colley used to travel around the country to help communities put on shows starring the children and other folks of the town.  She had graduated with a degree in theater and dance from the prestigious Tennessee school now called Belmont University and now she was putting that learning to use. In the early thirties Bibb Manufacturing brought her to Porterdale, Georgia, their mill town and home of little Sarah Ruth Baird. Quiet little Ruth was somehow coaxed to play the part of "Rita, the Bold Senorita" in the show that resulted. 

Half a century later, Larisa Johnston (now Featherstone), one of Ruth's granddaughters, became part of the confirmation group at Brentwood United Methodist Church. Sarah Colley Cannon, was now a seventy- or eighty-something, and an active and highly respected member of that congregation in the suburbs of Nashville.



Sarah became Larisa's "Friend in Faith". If I remember correctly Larisa's confirmation mentor and prayer partner not only prayed for her and sent little notes of encouragement, but also arranged for her backstage tours of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. (see comment from Larisa's mom, below.)

Of course, there is more to the story. 

In between those two events involving Ruth and Larisa, Sarah Cannon, a smart, cultured, serious, and dignified person in her personal and church life became world-famous for hanging price tags on her hat, hollering "How-deeeee!" and pretending to be brash and plain. 

As part of her theatrical efforts Sarah developed a comedy act filled with characters distilled from her Tennessee neighbors. She renamed her hometown "Grinder's Switch" after a tiny neighboring community, and she peopled it with lovingly lampooned "hillbillies" including her own alter ego: Minnie Pearl.





Others look at the pictures above and see a famous rube. I think also of a loving Christian, who faced terrible illness (breast cancer, double mastectomy, and stroke) and left a cancer-fighting legacy at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, and also left an impact on the lives of two people "I love... so much it hurts!" 

Do you suppose her work with the introverted preteen who would become my mother might have helped Ruth Baird Shaw, at least a little, to build the self-confidence that would later allow her to face widowhood, the horrible pain of trigeminal neuralgia, and aging, with the determination and dedication needed to build a new career as a pastor?

Do you suppose her willingness to mentor a young Christian helped my beloved little niece explore her faith and, perhaps, build the strength with which she would face, later in life, with heartbreak but dogged determination and great courage, the reality of her young daughter's battle with leukemia? (And Larisa with her daughter Lily and other family members and friends would build their own legacy by establishing Lily's Garden.)

I love Minnie Pearl, but there was a lot more to Sarah Colley Cannon than a dangling pricetag and that cheery "How-deeeee!" and tagline: "I love you so much it hurts!"  

Friday, May 05, 2017

Healthcare: What does your heart say?

Some of my former students from our years at Nature's Classroom on Lookout Mountain will fondly remember the many wonderful camp field-group leaders there. Those who were lucky enough to be assigned to the field group led by D.J. will always remember him. He's the guy splayed out at the bottom of the steps in front of the group. 


The staff at NC was always outstanding but none were better loved than D.J. The kids were thrilled to find that D.J. was engaged to beautiful fellow staffer Sarah!

Well now Sarah and DJ are still doing outdoor education (as am I!) and happily sharing their commingled lives with two daughters.

But the journey of the last decade has not been an easy ride. Read D.J.'s story as he wrote it today on his Facebook page.
----------------------------------------------------

What does your heart say?
by Darrell Fedchak (alias DJ)

I'm going to tell you a story only a few people know. I've kept my silence until now, and recent events have led me to believe this story might open people's eyes.
In February 2007, I stood in an office and had an insurance rep look me dead in the eye and tell me I was denied health insurance based on a pre-existing condition.
I remember asking him why. He replied that since my condition "sometimes required surgery," I was ineligible for benefits. Benefits that would make it affordable to get the medication that would let me avoid surgery. I told him this, and he responded (and I'll never forget this exchange as long as I live): "Doesn't matter, it's your problem."
I was diagnosed with advanced stage ulcerative colitis is 2006. Short version: every so often my body would decide to bleed internally. I nearly died several times over the next three years.
----------------------------- 
"Doesn't matter, it's your problem."
----------------------------- 

In 2009, it got so bad I could barely get out of bed. I couldn't work. The meds I needed would have cost me over $300 A WEEK. People don't pay that much in rent. But I couldn't work, and my family couldn't afford that kind of cost. I was too old to go back on my parent's insurance, even though I heard them on the phone a few times, fighting to get me covered.
It never worked out.
I got lucky. I qualified for a clinic that helped people in my situation. They helped me get Medicaid, and then helped me find a doctor and a surgeon who helped me with the initial surgeries. I needed three because I almost died in the hospital while recovering from the first one. I was in Buffalo General for a month. A MONTH.
Three years, eight surgeries, and a whole lot of good Samaritans later, I walked out with a clean bill of health. It was the hardest time of my life, and not just for me, but for my family and friends as well. There are still complications, still hardships, everyday. But I'm alive.

Today, the House of Representatives voted to remove Obama Era protections for those with pre-existing conditions. They voted to allow insurance companies to charge sick people more for their coverage, coverage they may no longer be able to afford. Coverage that could keep them alive and able to contribute to society.
I almost died because a man who did not know me denied me access to medication that would have allowed me to keep working, to keep contributing to society. I picked up $30k in medical debt just to stay alive; I'm still paying it off. I pray every single day that this condition isn't genetic; I'm deathly afraid that I may have passed this hardship onto my daughters.
It's too late for me to change what happened to me, but I can try to make things better for my kids. I can try to help build a world where they can get help if they need it. Not for me, for them.


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"There are still complications, still hardships, everyday.
But I'm alive."
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Put your politics aside for a moment and ask yourself this: 
"If I were sick, how would I feel about this new legislation?" 
"If it was my child, would they be able to get care?"

What does your heart say?



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Terrell's Amen

The 24 million folks who may lose insurance because of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act are actually individual people like Darrell. Each has a bloved child, a wife, a husband, a sweetheart, daughters, sons, jobs, churches or synagogues or mosques, favorite walks, hometown teams they support, best friends, favorite pets, songs they love, pet peeves, aggravating faults, great skills, and/or any of the plethora of abilities, disabilities, loves and hates that you and I have seen in our acquaintances. I will be thrilled for my taxes to go toward the healthcare of all my fellow citizens, even Klan members and Brietbart staffers.

Universal healthcare will:
-save lives
-lessen pain
-reduce suffering
-reduce costs

Call your Senators and Representatives.
Tell them you support the ACA.
Tell them you want Medicare and Medicaid protected and expanded.
Tell them you want Social Security protected.