My father’s footsteps

My dad, while he was in the Navy, around 1944

My dad, while he was in the Navy, around 1944

Freezing rain and sleet fell in Eastern Iowa last Sunday making travel treacherous for many. Some ventured out, but found it difficult to maneuver the mess the ice storm created. I choose to stay home and get some much-needed housekeeping done.

Since it had been a while, cleaning the storage room would be my first task. I began sorting through the boxes, each one filled with days gone by, mementos of events that our family held dear. 

I came across a lone folder. It didn’t have a label on it, and I thumbed through it to see if it was important.

The faded words, “when I was a boy,” stood out to me, and I realized that it was my father’s manuscript.

He started writing his life story many years ago when he had knee surgery. My mother told me it was great therapy for him as it filled the hours that he spent laid up.

He continued writing even after he healed, asking his brothers for editing advice, both of them giving it back with their critiques.

But as hard as he worked on it, he was never able to finish it.

As I skimmed through the folder, I caught glimpses of his life that I didn’t know about, and it was as if I was learning who my father was in those pages.

He had been in a car accident when I was 4 and he wrote about how he wondered why God gave him a second chance.

He wrote about the colorful characters he encountered while in  the Navy, and how that experience “broadened his horizons.”

I set the manuscript aside to read later and sifted through other boxes to see what treasures I could find. Photos, scrapbooks, old newspaper clipping; it was evident that my father cherished the memories he made.

In the same box I found stories and poems that he had written as a boy. They are faded and hard to read, (one story, titled, “Bunny Paradise,” I can’t wait to read) but seeing where he started and his passion for the written word, brought me closer to him, even though he has been gone more than four years.

The last box held baby books of my brothers and sisters, but at the bottom was another folder with more of the manuscript. I was excited as I looked through it, looking at the last page to see where he was in the story. But it ended in mid-sentence.

Disappointed, I gathered what folders I had and went to investigate. My mother told me that the manuscript was scattered; my brother had some of it, and more of it could be in other boxes. It might take some time, but I’m confident I’ll be able to find them.

Later that night, as I read the first few pages of his story, I saw that he was not only a talented writer, but a wonderful story-teller. Reading the adventures he had as a boy and the time he spent in the Navy showed me what a passion writing had been for him.

Though I have my work cut out for me, it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to walk in my father’s footsteps.

Parent’s role is becoming even more challenging

I have taken on the duty of covering the Marion School Board meetings, which are held twice a month.

My first meeting went pretty much what I expected, similar to the Hiawatha council meetings that I attend regularly.

I found it extremely interesting, mostly because I’m a mother and grandmother, and anything eduction-related interests me.  I also attended college in the ’90s to become an elementary education teacher, and though I didn’t follow through, I have maintained a high respect for all teachers.

During the school board meeting, a mother of two Emerson Elementary students asked to address the board. She stated that she was concerned about the safety in Marion schools because of the shooting in Newtown, Conn. and suggested that a guard be posted in every school.

It made me think about how close to home the issue had become, and how it was affecting all of us, a community nearly 1,000 mile away.

As I listened to the news report, I was shocked to hear that the shooter’s mother knew he was mentally ill, but taught him how to shoot guns, anyway.

Maybe she didn’t want to admit that her son might be capable of such a horrendous act, but she should have had some idea. She was his mother, after all.

Our society is changing and so is role of a parent. Our children are exposed to many things that can have a negative affect on the way they think and behave.

The influence of violent video games, movies, television, the Internet, and social media could be changing our children’s judgement without us even being aware of it.

Some parent think it’s OK that their young children have total access to their computer and let them play violent video games that are much too sophisticated for them. They let them watch television shows and movies that could be impact the choices they make.

Some kids have their own cell phones by the time they’re 7, and many spend much of their time texting instead of talking to their parents.

Life is busy. There are more things to occupy our time and we can’t seem to find the time to spend with our children. But we have to.

Education begins at home. Teaching children what is right and what is wrong is a parent’s responsibility. Knowing who they are, what they think, who their friends are, is more important today than ever before.

So turn off the computer, iPads, television, and cell phones. Take your children to the park, to the lake, or on a bike ride. Spend time with your children, learn who they are, and start relating to them. Be the positive influence that our society desperately needs.

We can’t stop the changes that are occurring to our society, but we can adjust the way we raise our children to reflect those changes in a positive way.

This may not be the solution to the problem, but maybe it’s a start. And besides, it’s just good parenting.

An ending is just a new beginning

I read somewhere that an ending is really just a new beginning.

In the past year I’ve had to face the end of something that meant the world to me, but now I see that it was just paving the for me to start something new. But I couldn’t see it…until I did.

When I started my newspaper project I couldn’t see an ending because I didn’t want to. I had an exit plan, but I didn’t want to admit that was even a possibility. I knew my newspaper was going to make it and I was going to do everything in my power to see that happen.

Well, I did do my best, but in the end, the operating costs became too expensive. Working a full-time job, I couldn’t get out and get ads. Even if I could, I’m not sure if it would have mattered.

Let’s face it; I’m not a pushy person. When someone said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” all I could say was, “OK, thank you for your time,” and left feeling rejected.

I did have a few hopeful moments when I did get advertisements, but when I realized that I didn’t want to have to do this for the rest of my life, I accepted that I am not a salesperson and began to look at other alternatives.

It took me a month or two before I realized that this was not the end, but just the beginning of something even better.

I still have my website at www.hiawathaadvocate.net, but I am devoting more time and attention to other projects, including book publishing and a freelance business.

Who knows? Maybe these projects won’t work out, but there will always be a new beginning if they don’t.