Saturday, August 27, 2011

De-cluttering the House

The Reunion is over, and we now turn to other subjects of life and aging to "people of a certain age." I hope that others find these interesting and will leave comments which might "inspire" another blog entry. You never know!

Some time ago, I alluded in a blog to our stuff "owning" us. I know personally of dozens of people "my" age that have said to me, "I need to do something, but I don't know where to begin.” People our age are inheriting from our parents, those of us who are married get the double impact, plus we have a lifetime of accumulation of our own!

I am going to try and attack this subject with my own experience. Keep in mind, I have not arrived and I will never arrive (at least until I can get Jerry to part with 35 years of teaching papers that are on the bottom shelf in the basement). But here is what happened in my life. See if you can relate.

In 2004, Jerry was done in with the yard work, and we began the conversation of "What's next?" We knew the "next" would not occur until Joel graduated from high school in 2007, but the conversation began in 2004. We still had a college student, we were planning a wedding, and had a three-sport athlete in high school. We had a few things on our minds.

I remember thinking to myself, "I will get rid of all this stuff when we move in 2007," and then, with almost the next voice, it was "Why wait?" Now I was working full time and had as much time as anyone (!); but I found a resource that helped me amazingly. The web site is www.flylady.net. By the way, she is a lady but this information is not gender specific at all!

The first order of business is to de-clutter. It didn't happen overnight and it's not going to go away overnight! That said, she helped me to break it down into manageable pieces, which she calls “baby steps.” HOWEVER, and this is the biggie, you have to be WILLING to toss! If you have the need to hold on to things, that is another issue for another professional!

So I moved through my home, respecting the other people living in my home, and did what I could. For example, regardless of the size of your household, how many tupperware, cool whip, margarine containers, do you need in your house? Get rid of some! That said, my hubby, who sneaks in and reads my blog, also tries to sneak these containers into my one drawer that I have for them. It is a continual process, not just a one-time cleansing!

I don't even want to think about how many trash bags I took to the curb that year. I had a 14 year old that still had treasures, but we worked together. My daughter was away at college and I didn't mess with her. However, in 2005 when she married, that was a HUGE purge, because I am of the religion that once they move out--ALL OF THEIR STUFF GOES WITH THEM!

Flylady.net helped me to move around my house and get rid of one thing at a time. The next stage is what we would think of as maintenance. This works differently for everyone, and it works differently for any one person based on the stage of life they are in. Fundamentally, Flylady takes five zones and works around the house within a month's period of time. While I was working full time, this was excellent and kept things moving. I never felt it was "out of control." In early 2007 when we put our house on the market, I felt we were ready!

We still had a garage sale in summer and got rid of the things we knew that we would NOT need in the new house we were building. We made enough to buy new outdoor furniture for our deck. By the time it was time to move, we were in good shape.

A very simple dining room. I have
a few more things out since taking
this picture, but I don't like to dust!
Now, I have a retired man living with me, and I am at a different stage in life. We have a division of labor now, which is fair. But as a woman, I still have in the back of my mind where we should be in terms of what needs to be done at any given time. I believe the concepts of Flylady are still with me although I am not following religiously anymore. It gets done and that’s what is important.

I still have another big purge when Joel gets married and/or moves into an apartment; whichever comes first. Once I figure out what he (they) does or does not want; I will be purging again and getting rid of things.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I have failed somewhere in life; but my children do NOT care about the historical things that I own. Therefore, I need to explore other ideas; perhaps another family member, the local historical society, or maybe just turning it into cash. Fundamentally, I want to deal with it NOW, rather than leave it for the kids.

This means keeping the things that I LOVE around me but if it has to be stored, I need to be asking some questions about that. Some things should be stored, like Christmas decorations, as they are not in everyday use, but I am referring to all that "stuff" we have that we do not need!

Perhaps I feel this way because I have executed three estates; and I don't want to put my kids through the job, and let's call it a JOB, of going through more than necessary after I am gone.

This is something we all "of a certain age" need to be thinking about. And I will say this, getting rid of what you don't have to have is one of the most freeing things you can possibly do! It would take another blog to consider where to donate things; but my personal opinion is that we have enough needy people in our own community and that's where I begin.

Now folks, you have no excuse! GET CRACKIN'!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Support Team

While I am processing and thinking about the reunion and things that happened during the weekend, I want to give a shout-out to those people who are my support team. This is easy to write.

Me, Jean and Linda, getting
ready for the Friday event.
Jean arrived on Wednesday August 10th. Jean has been my BFF since we “dated” (????) two guys who were best friends in the 7th grade. The guys moved on, don’t even remember that story, but we remained friends. She was with me all through high school and college and was a bridesmaid in my wedding. Sadly I was not in hers. We have visited in each others’ homes while she lived in Florida and Texas. I am beyond thrilled that her husband’s job recently brought them to Louisville KY.

Linda became my friend when we shared (and no one is permitted to laugh here) a pattern as we made costumes to be “cheerleaders” for the Senior/Faculty basketball game. We both sewed well and could adapt this pattern, although our body types are different! Linda and I were close until about 1981, and she was a hostess at my wedding while a student at Cornell University. She would have been a bridesmaid but her attendance was “iffy” during those years.  I was a bridesmaid in her wedding in 1979. Jerry and I visited her in Homestead FL, Ithaca NY and Dallas TX.  During the decade of the 80’s we were not so connected; but when my brother was injured in Atlanta GA in 1991, where Linda lived, she was my first call. Her father-in-law was a doctor and she got real information for me. When I went down for visits during his extended hospitalization, I stayed with her and this was truly a bonding experience! Since then, she has lived 30-45 minutes from Loren, and we visit on every trip.

Both of these women can come into a house they have never seen before and find their way around the kitchen, throw laundry in the washer and generally take over. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Debbie is my employer. I don’t think she has any complaints about my work because it does come first. But as I take breaks, which physically come more and more often, I check the phone, email and see if anything has need of attention. She doesn’t have anything to do with this other than her approval, as long as the job is getting done. Of course it is.

Last but certainly not least is the man I share my life with. This is our fifth reunion together. (I sat out 2006 as we were getting ready for a busy senior year and the year previous, when you begin the planning, we had a wedding.) The methods have changed over the years as we primarily use the Internet now. In those early years, he literally answered the phone for me and took messages and relayed information. Now there is not so much of that; but he has kept the home running smoothly while I work, and run here and there. I simply would be a nut case if I came home to “more work” and that just does not happen. He’s done it.

What can I say? He puts up with
alot....but, so do I!! That's life!
These reunions, as with all of the committee, not just me, have come at different stages of life; and that part of it will continue, as we don’t know what five more years will bring. Jerry has supported me in all of those stages by taking care of the children’s needs or whatever needed done. We are past that now, but I don’t have to worry about a clean house when I am going to have house guests.

And our funny story…this precious man….when I came home from the Saturday night event with balloons, I just left them hanging in the corner of the room. During the night, they migrated to the ceiling fan in the living room, twisting their way around the fan (not breaking) and somehow causing the globe to unscrew itself and it came crashing to the floor. Hubby and son, the all-conference middle linebaker and varsity football coach, were in the basement and heard the crash. Joel says “Dad! Someone is breaking into the house! You gotta go up and see what’s going on!” (What’s this “you?”)

So Jerry comes upstairs, we women each have a bedroom, and at 4:30 AM he cleans up the glass mess (Linda, in the closest bedroom to the living room “thought” she heard something like a sweeper); gets out a ladder of course and untwists the balloons, then because they are not broken, proceeds to “sweep” them out the back door with a broom, to be lifted to heaven…….this from my environmentalist husband! 4:30 AM makes you do crazy things!

Jean and I did NOT HEAR A THING! Jerry went back to bed and life moved on. That’s how it is when you have a Support Team! Thank you Jerry for putting up with me!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

After the Ball


Your faithful Reunion Committee

I feel as though this is the first “forced” blog entry I have to write. Everything else has been “inspired,” and with the exception of the one on loss, has freely flowed. That is not to say editing is not a process, but the idea was there initially.

We have been talking about our 40th Class Reunion for months now. The ball is over, and the slight let-down is here. I have dealt with it before and have no doubt that I will again, but is time to get back to life. It’s funny how we let certain things take over, or perhaps they do naturally, like the birth of a grandchild! Eventually we have to get back to normal, even if it is a “new normal.”

For those interested in numbers, our Friday night event at the Fairborn Moose Lodge had an attendance of about 150 total. That is not to say they were all in the room at the same time at any point, but based on registration, no-shows and then “surprises,” that’s a good round figure. On Saturday night at the Berry Room at the E.J. Nutter Center, the number was around 110. Both events were nice, and there is always going to be the person who prefers one over the other.  However, those who attended both had a good time regardless! It really IS about people, not a venue.

That said, I think I can speak prematurely for the Reunion Committee that at the 45-year juncture, we will have only one “official” night, leaving others to do the things they want to on the other night. We are all getting older and this is a lot to do for two nights! There is talk about a “60th” birthday party in 2013. Our class website, www.fairborn71.com gives us the tools to plan something, large or small.

Some comments from our classmates in their own words:
Really proud to be associated with such a wonderful group of people at our FHS71 reunion party tonight. Great energy, great talks, and great fun! Thank you to all who made it to the Moose Lodge and thanks to all who made it happen. Really great!! Tim Garrigan.

You know a class reunion was good when even the spouses had fun! Thanks to the committee and Denise for all the hard work. Sarah Robinson Prueter. (And yes, I did happen to be sitting beside Bill)

Wow! What a great time this weekend!!! Thanks so much to the entire reunion committee and a special thanks to Denise! Also thanks to those who put together the door prizes as well!! Ronnie Powell.

‎"Thank you" Reunion Committee for all of the hard work. It was great getting together with everyone! Special thanks to Denise! ;-) Debbi Dodson Craven

Watching from afar I must say I am impressed with the organization. I felt like I was there but yet was not. My spirit was with you. Maybe 2021. Oh that sounds far away. I hope everyone travels home safely. Greetings and simultaneously farewell to all. Steve Bolduc.

Wonderful time at the reunion! Bravo and thanks to all on the reunion committee. Greg Howard.

Thanks to everyone on the reunion committee! It was a great weekend! Special thanks to Denise for putting it all together. You are unbelievable. Rick and I had a great time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We missed all of those who couldn't make it, and hope that you will be with us next time. I hope everyone got home safely and please keep in touch. Bless you all! Love, Nancy and Rick Bailey.

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in putting the reunion together, with a very special thanks to Denise. It was my first reunion and I cannot begin to say how much it meant to me to be able to again spend time with old friends and make some new ones. Fairborn has undergone some pretty major changes in 40 years. Some people seem to never change (and you know who you are that I pointed it out) and others have become almost unrecognizable. It was a great weekend. Thanks again to all who planned and participated. Robin Reynolds Hamlin.

A note from Joyce (Laymon) Faye.....What a great weekend!!!! The committee did such a good job. It takes a lot to pull off that much fun! Special thanks to Denise for your hard work, and Libby, thanks so much for your efforts and the CD!! I had a blast catching up with classmates. Singing the fight song with Kristi Keller Helmersen was a blast! Thanks to those that participated!

Thanks to the reunion committee for all their hard work....good to see everyone....now back to the present and the years ahead....thanks again..... Art Brownlee.

Had a great time both nights. Thanks to everyone on the committee(s) for all you did. I appreciate all that you did to make it a great event. I also want to thank Libby in particular for the CD - love the art work. Susan Semler Boyd.

I'd like to say that last night was great seeing everyone, omg I was just so glad to be a part of this large class and that so many of us were together again...40 yrs guys that's a good feeling for me I graduated with some great folks and miss them, last night made me really think of all the fun I had with a lot of you..thanks for the memories and getting to be with you all last night...hope to see some of you and more of you tonight at the Nutter Center.... Gwenn Miller Rose

The reunion committee is two for two on successful nights, in my opinion. Thanks to David White for the excellent tunes. It was good to see all you people, even those I didn't know well back in the old days. I wish everyone well in their lives, and maybe we'll meet again at the big 5-0! Robert Marcum.

I think I enjoyed this reunion the most of all of them. I had a great time Friday & Saturday (my worries are finally over about the 500 balloons - lol!) and also the picnic on Sunday. I hope everyone enjoyed the "tour" of the Fairborn Theater Saturday afternoon. Reconnecting with old friends and making "new" old friends....it was sooo good seeing everyone! Even though we are all so different, we all have a lot in common: we all grew up in Fairborn, went to the same places to shop, eat, swim, watch movies, play ball, went to the same churches & schools, had the same teachers & graduated from Fairborn High School 40 years ago. Nobody can take that away from us. We just came from all over the world to celebrate this bond! What a wonderful weekend! Libby Pool Corona.

Thank you ALL for a wonderful reunion You made it another successful reunion can't wait for the next one! Bev Vaughn Rivenbank.

I'll add my THANK YOUS to the reunion committee too! I think it was the best ever! Thanks to all for your hard work and perseverance! I had a great time both nights! Connected with old friends and made some new ones. Got to see the old home town through different eyes (older ones!). I loved visiting with all the folks I connected with and wish I had more time to spend catching up with those I didn't. Hope to see you all in 2021. In the meantime - keep in touch on FB. :-) I'll be posting my pictures there later this week. Kristi Keller Helmersen

I would like to also thank the reunion committee! What a great job you all did in making this weekend event so successful. I appreciate the kind words about the music I provided but believe me it pales in comparison to the hard work that the committee put in for these events. Denise, what can I say except I doubt half the people would have been there without your efforts on the web! My sincere thanks to all of you for your outstanding efforts! It was great seeing all of you! Dave White.

From the looks of things it appears everyone had a great time. So sorry I was unable to make it,  but I would like to thank all of the reunion committee for keeping me informed , and will look forward to seeing pictures of all who could attend. Thanks Denise and Libby (and all) for all your hard work, it appears it paid off in spades! Ralph Hansford.

Libby Corona - thank you for the souvenir cds you made for everyone last night. That was an amazing amount of time, work, and dedication. Everyone give Lib a big TY!!!!! Nancy MacFarland Barker.

‎"A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood." Charlotte Davis Kasl Thank you Denise and to all who put together such a fine reunion! Now I have lots of new memories to add to the old ones of all of my friends from the Class of 71! Gary Warner.

Thank You, to the committee and all who participated in the organization of the reunion. Your hard work, effort, dedication, and time spent was greatly appreciated! The attendance Friday eve was amazing. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed seeing everyone. So glad I was able to attend! Special Thanks to Denise! And, Thanks to Libby for the CD !!! Rita Holt Dryden.

The Saturday night reunion was very nice and I enjoyed it. I wish those who came on Friday came back on Saturday! I wasn't able to come on Friday because my son is home on leave from the Army. Thank you all for your hard work and time in organizing it.  Debbie Smith Johnson.

Denise & reunion committee - Thanks SO much for all of your hard work to coordinate this 40th class reunion. I know what it takes to do something like this and there is SO much that goes on behind the scenes. Libby, thanks, for the unique CD remembrance! Now to relax a bit! Those 40 years really have flown but it's been a great ride so far! Best to everyone else! Maggie (Margaret Clouse) Bilby

Although it's been said many times many ways: I gotta add my THANKS to the reunion committee for three really great days. You all did a wonderful job!! Wilma Barker Martenka.

The Reunion for me was a great fulfilling purpose. I know there are probably those who would have liked to come but were unable. To them I say YES we were all thinking about YOU. It was good to be seen! I loved all the gentlemen and ladies who recognized me and gave a life giving hug - thank YOU all. We all have a weath of great knowledge and experiences. It was so so great to see Mark Zeid and his beautiful and fun Hiromi with an extra bonus with Bob Zeid. Thank you for making me laugh. All I can say is that there is a lot more love in my life from the past 4 days that will last for a long time. God blessings on you all for all you do and have done no matter how big or how small, I loved the cake!  Diana Hauver Wharton.

It is my sincerest wish that people connected with people and will continue their relationships in the future. When I think of the tools we have today, that we didn’t have 40 years ago, I am amazed. Long distance phone calls had to be made on the weekends to save money and they were few and far between. Today we have email, texting and (sometimes) unlimited minutes on our phones. And of course, Facebook and our class web site. We didn’t even dream of what we have today!

I goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that we all get back to our real lives. We are busy, but we are not too busy to do the things that are important to us, and to maintain the relationships we want to maintain. I certainly plan to; how about you?




Monday, August 15, 2011

I Am Exhausted!


I have a great committee who researches venues, prices caterers and together we set up a budget. I do research and the web site and database, and we plan to do a mailing. I take the picture, use a printer I have done business with, and we are ready to do our mailing. Cassie and I do the mailing. I continue to monitor the web site and I am grateful for those who register early.

Others plan the raffle, the gifts, the decorations and the souvenirs. I am not creative. We did have a hang up in the music, and David steps up. I seem to end up being liaison for him but that's OK, I know him best. 

Daily I monitor the web site and registrations. This is what I do, it is not hard when you are working in your strengths. But there are people, lots of people, who say they are coming, but do not register. They all get a contact until I hear from them! I ordered the t-shirts.

When it gets tough: Yes, I am having company, I choose this and enjoy this. The weekend before the reunion I clean the house thoroughly. I do the best job I can and I have assistance, but it's not white-glove. Jean arrives Wednesday. I continue to get calls about registration. I do not mind those, they come with the territory.

But then I start to get calls about what time things start, what should I wear and other things that are on the web site. Most annoying are reunion committee members calling me for other reunion committee members' phone numbers. Note to self: NEXT TIME everyone has EVERY contact information of every other member of the committee. I cannot do this and do my (work) job, entertain my guest, and keep up with all these people that are calling me. Jerry helps with housework and his own laundry and towels. Jean is amazed that he washes her towels for her!

Wednesday evening Jean and I have dinner with a friend and then we drive around town looking at all kinds of things, among them her old house. It has been foreclosed on and it's really sad. We are home, visit with Jerry and are in bed by 10:30.

Thursday, Jean visits with a lady she worked with in the 70’s, and I work 10-2 and then get my hair done. We then go to Giovanni's with classmates and walk around downtown. We come home and are in bed early.

Friday AM I am up early. Mike calls about the t-shirts and I pick out a print of the two he sends me in an email. I run to the airport to pick up Linda. I bring her home and she decides to go to work with me. Jean and Jerry decide to go shopping together. Jean thinks she is going to talk Jerry into a large screen TV. Haha! Good luck with that. Linda and I go to work. We gather up all the trash and get the school ready for students coming in from clinicals. I have 7 phone calls to return there and some emails. My cell phone continues to ring as I try to work. I work two hours.

Linda and I go to Roushes for some soup. Comfort food and a talk. We then go to get the t-shirts. I come home. It is 2:00. We have to be at the Moose at 5:00. I sort the t-shirts and mark them for the classmates; then I take a shower and get myself ready. Jean fields a call that is a hilarious story in itself; I will not tell it, suffice to say I should have had her here for months! I then sit down. Linda hands me a glass of wine. I turn off the phone and computer. I rest while they get ready.  

We are the first ones at the Moose. I have no idea what is going on because Camille, Bev and the decoration committee were to organize this. No one is there yet. No one arrives until 5:30. I set up my registration table and memorial table. The rest of the committee arrives all at once and it's pretty much chaos for awhile. All in all it goes OK. By the evening's end I have had 4 glasses of wine (including the afternoon) and I am wiped out. But Linda and Jeannie want to go to Waffle House. It seemed like a good idea but it really isn't. 

Me--fixed up!
I slept four hours and then the waffle was upsetting me. I think I may have nodded off between 6:30 and 7:30 but that's it. I then get up and begin cooking for the next day. Everyone else is still in bed. Gradually they get up and they decide they are going shopping while I go over to the theater tour. I don't stay long really. I come home and take my shower and lay down a little. By the time they have come back from shopping, they have purchased jewelry and hair accessories and Linda is going to fix me up. OK, I guess I could use improvement but I really am not sure about this.

I get ready and then I head to the Nutter Center. I have to carry a bunch of stuff in and I am alone. I call David and he sends Cassie's husband to help me out. Seems I went to the wrong door and I carried all this stuff up the million stairs. I thought I was going to collapse. We get everything to the right place.

I enjoy the evening basically. I have wonderful table partners and I work the room. I didn't win any prizes. I left at 11, Jean and Linda wanted to stay but I was done. Thank you Mark Zeid and Hiromi for helping me carry stuff out to the car before the storm hit.

I got to bed at 12:30 and I was up at 6:30. Linda is getting ready for the airport. I am able to actually sit and read the newspaper. I take her to the airport, and return home and by then Jean is packed and ready to leave so I am able to say goodbye to her. I have a few minutes and then it is time to pack the car for the picnic. I arrive about 11:30 and Dean Bair, Dewey Armstrong and Danny Wile are there to help me carry stuff to the picnic area. I have food, table service, chairs etc. to set out. I thank God for my men! We have a great amount of food and about 60 people arrive. It is a good group. 

But I am starting to fade about 3:00 but we don't break up until 5:30. Dean and Carol left early and took a bunch of things back to my car, but I stayed. I obviously do not have as much to bring back, but then again I bring home extra food, so there is that. The perks.

I come home and I bring it all in the house myself and carry most of it downstairs. Jerry has some of the leftovers for dinner and is pleased. I fold a load of laundry and start another. I am ready to sit down. My daughter calls, I cannot even talk to her. I am so hoarse from talking for five days. 

I am exhausted.

P.S. It is harder at 58. I have spent 18 hours AT reunion events. My life’s partner does not attend, but does support me at home by doing the things there that do not get done by me. I am immensely grateful for the men and women who help me carry all the “stuff” that comes out of the “Reunionmobile” to and from all the events. I can’t imagine what condition I would be in if I did not have them!

NEXT UP: I will quit whining about me and write about the reunion!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who Are We?

A couple of weeks before the reunion, someone used this as their Facebook status: "If you make it your goal in life to be externally attractive, then you will attract people who are attracted to externals."  Since I like to give credit, this came originally from another blog http://www.ericpazdziora.com/writing/in-search-of-the-ideal-proverbs-31-single-man/ which may interest some of you.

This really impacted me on the day after I got my teeth cleaned, had received in the mail the new outfit I was planning to wear to the reunion, and was setting up my appointments for my hair color, cut and mani/pedi.

Teeth cleaning, we all need that, some more than others and I fall into the more category. Yes, I will color my hair until I am unable to drive and then we may just have to have a discussion in my home. I AM VAIN!

But I ask myself, how much time and money do I need to spend on my clothing and "externals" and how much does that mean to my classmates and others? Everyone wants to look their nicest and there is no sin in that.

However, my true friends should be the ones who accept me as I really am and will be there at the end of my life. They are the ones who build me up, and I build them up. We should be fully accepted: hot and sweaty, no make-up, everyday clothes and maybe NOT having a manicure, pedicure and fancy jewelry!

As we age, we really do start thinking about who we are internally. We want to set that example of life for our children and grandchildren. We want to mentor the younger people in our neighborhoods, churches and other organizations. WHO ARE WE? Cranky, inaccessible, or just NOT fun to be around? I sure as heck hope that does not apply to me!

At the same time, life is not always fun, we face some serious challenges with aging in general. I want my inner being to be as attractive, and reflect a security in who I am, Whose I am, and my life after death. I hope that I am able to show my children how to die as I have shown them how to live. I freely admit I don't do pain well! 

That same day, I talked to a classmate about people wanting to make sure certain people were at the reunion before they committed. The clock was ticking as we had this discussion. We wondered “Why are we still acting like we are in Junior High?” as we admitted in some ways we are! If you are having those feelings, you certainly are not alone, but remember, people are different today and you will find a friend you never expected. I can almost guarantee it!

Personally, I am not a tea-totaler, although I am trying to lose weight for my son’s wedding next year (and as he says “empty calories, Mom!”) so I don’t drink much, since I prefer to eat! That said, I do ask myself why do people feel they MUST have alcohol before they can approach this type of event? Are we all so scary and scared that we need “help” relating to one another? I truly hope not! (I don’t need help relating to anyone, but getting me to dance might take a glass of wine!)

May we come to our reunion secure in who we are, happy in the things we have accomplished in our lives, and humbled by the issues we have faced and triumphed over, and not afraid to admit the mistakes we have made.

It is not what we look like, not who are friends are or were, or what we are partaking of! It’s about who we are!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It Does Take A Village!

Note: This is the second installment of a blog about the community in which we raised our children.

My last blog dealt with The Football Mom. It only touched briefly on the community that made me The Football Mom. I want to take this a little further today.

For some of you, this will be a little hard to take. I get that. But, if you are a parent, you understand the concept of doing whatever it takes to raise your child(ren) in the best way you know how. In 1992, we had an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old. Storm clouds were brewing in the town city schools and I was not a happy mother of children. Jerry had 24 years in as a teacher and he could not move professionally at that level; but we sought something else for our children's education.

Although my line has always been "Every parent is a home-schooling parent. Some of us just choose to sublet the responsibility to others; but the bottom line comes back home." That said, I am not a home-schooling parent! My daughter and I would have killed each other early on. So the next thing was to decide what public school we wanted our kids in.

I did research. I took tours and I met the superintendents of the Tecumseh Local and (now) Greenon Local Schools. I met with the Board of Education of the Greenon Schools. I am not a normal person, I realize this. I did NOT look at test scores, I looked at people and philosophies. In the end, we chose the Greenon Schools because OF the community. I had lived in the Medway area from 1955-1964 and I knew that community. In 1993 it was not the same town. I was aware of that. Some of my heart will always be in Medway, I will be buried in Medway, but the better choice for educating my children was Enon.

A little about the Enon community itself. It's small. A lot of people are related to a lot of people and we were outsiders. But I will say, we found our way early on. 

Jessica was in a play at Hustead Elementary in the fall of 1993. One of her first friends was Jodi, who was in gymnastics with a Palmer/South friend of Jessica’s. Jodi was looking for Jess the first day of school to have lunch with her. Jodi was in the play. (I always said that Jodi reminded me so much of Jean Reynolds it was hilarious, so I don't need to describe Jodi).  Jodi introduced Jess to a wonderful group of girls and they were all very good friends. The following year they played softball and basketball together and there was, you guessed it, another play. These people took Jess right in and I said she had her picture in the Enon paper more that first year than ever in Fairborn! 

As with all first-borns, Jessica was our "practice" in getting involved with other parents and the community. We always got to know parents, but I honestly have to say it wasn't until Joel got involved, that we met our "community."

Joel began his illustrious career in t-ball, the year he completed an unassisted triple play and we parents looked at each other and said "Did we just see what we THINK we saw?" It wasn't a physical feat, it was a mental feat: that a 6-year-old KNEW what to do! 

We moved through the ranks of Enon Little League and he wanted to play basketball and Enon had nothing for first and second graders so we went to the Fairborn Y with a promise to return. From third grade on, it was basketball parents and baseball parents that made up our lives. In the fourth grade he tried soccer. It was one of those times you said "We are going to finish what we have started." NOBODY LIKED SOCCER!! As I have mentioned, he began Knights Pee Wee Football in the fifth grade and that's when things started to gel.

The Enon community is the people who have helped to make both of our children the people they are today. They are the parents of their friends, they are the coaches that taught them more than the rules of a game, they are the educators who taught them academically, and they are the people of their community who paid their taxes so that my children could have the upbringing that we wanted them to have.

We blessedly had few issues but when we did, the adult were all over it. We worked as a team and got the situation handled. My kids knew this and didn't try much. There was also the second child observing the first child and learning from that situation. Eyes were everywhere. This is exactly what I wanted in a community. People who cared enough to tell you what you may not want to hear.

Some of my fondest memories of community:

  • When our boys were turning twelve, we parents decided we were tired of handing out ten dollar bills all around. We took our boys to the Holiday Inn at Wagner-Ford Road in Dayton. Since it was Jessica’s 17th birthday also, she was allowed to invite three friends and we got two rooms, plus six families threw in enough money to get the boys a room. We all had a complete blast! Never mind that Joel got sick and ended up with us. A great time was had by all!

  • When Joel was in the sixth grade, he was on a traveling basketball team which played so many games that I later said that seventh grade school basketball was a vacation! We played many games in Beavercreek’s Henley Hall, and you know….Marion’s pizza is right up the road! We had so many common meals there and the parents had as much fun as the kids! I gained weight.

  • There was never an issue as to whether another family would take your kid in, or home, or anywhere in an emergency. When our daughter made a visit to the ER after a track meet, I worried about Joel at home. (This was before cell phones). I don’t know why I did. He simply went to his “second home” across the street and was provided for until we got home, which was 2:00 AM. (He stayed all night).

  • I always said spring sports created community. Misery loves company. Sitting together in miserable weather is a bonding experience. But I have to tell you how we do a baseball “concession stand." Someone keeps an eye on the “store” while watching the game. We rotate the duties; no one is stationed there. No one is going to steal anything. We handle it as needed.

My favorite memory overall:
  • The last football game of Joel’s junior year. Scoring two touchdowns within the last four minutes of the game and backing into the conference championship, while we are all quoting Al Michaels in the 1980 Winter Olympics: “Do you believe in miracles?” It was colder than, well, I won’t say, but our hearts were warm as something that had not been done in that community since the early 60’s was happening to our boys. Our teams had been “done to” so many times, it was our turn, even if it was luck in addition to their skill. It was total insanity.

All these illustrations use sports as the backdrop, and that was our world, but the community was there regardless. If our kids were out of their “world,” they were still part of the community, and known—and yes, watched—by all. I don’t believe that this would have occurred in a larger town. The people involved in all of these activities were our “extended family” in a town that in many respects, IS extended family. I thank God that they took us and our kids in!

The Football Mom

I have been exploring all kinds of connections in my life and if there is one thing I have hoped in all of this is that I have been able to share my varied experiences in life. While this class reunion is what is "happening now" and it IS important; it is but one thing in a full life.

We all wear different hats in life; and sometimes I wonder what I will be remembered for. One aspect that many reading this will shake their heads "uh-huh" at is The Football Mom!

Tonight I was able to participate in “Mom Camp,” which is the most wonderful idea. We did not have this when I was The Football Mom; but now that I am The Football Coach’s Mom, they have an evening where I can actually learn what they are teaching the team.

(This evening was not typical, as we learned that a former football mom had taken her life the night before. In a small community, something like this hits everyone. Of course, it hits me hard and she was also a neighbor. It was a lower-keyed evening than originally planned. I spent it with two football moms that spanned my era and this one.)

I followed five OHSAA sports, not to mention Little League, Girls' Softball, Junior Pro Basketball and Pee Wee Football. I learned to love volleyball and track, already had a love for baseball and basketball; but what I learned the most about was FOOTBALL! My son did not even play until 5th grade because I was the mean mom; but once he did, we all knew this was "the niche."

Surprisingly, the Pee Wee organization was very family friendly, so it added to our family. Big sis supported little brother in every way possible. Pee Wee Football is where the "Knights Parents" connection was truly made. I acknowledge that it spilled over into other sports, and it had been there to some extent with Little League. The picture I am going to use to accompany this blog is one of my favorites and really "tells a story."

This particular evening in my son's sixth grade year, we were in East Clinton, Ohio; and our Pee Wee team had won a regional tournament that you weren't even invited to unless you were undefeated. The picture is of the coach speaking to his team after the win. I am behind the camera, but behind the players is the "rest of the family." Indeed this was my family for many years; the community of Enon and Mad River Township. In this particular game, my son, the fullback, ran 70 yards for a touchdown and I thought I would literally pee my pants which in November would have been awkward! His father and our neighbor were running down the field along side of the play. You can do that in Pee Wee. I was not hollering "Run, Joel, run!" I was yelling "DON'T CLIP, OZZIE!!!!!!"

Middle school football was "character-building" after that season. I can remember telling Joel quietly, "Just remember.....who you are!" and by his junior and senior years they were again conference champs. Those were exciting and bonding years. I was friends with the parents, but I unashamedly LOVED those young men!

Joel made the decision not to play college football, because he felt that his body was done; and we went through the senior season with expectation, and dread too. No game was a gimme, but we knew we had talent. The Sunday evening before the last week of practice, Joel was packing his stuff up in the family room, and made a comment about this being the last time he would "suit up." He knew he would play basketball and baseball again, but he would never again "suit up" for football. He went on upstairs, and I just sat there and cried. I followed him up and asked him if we were doing the right thing by not pursuing some of these colleges (none were giving a full-ride of course!) and he said "Yes, Mom. I don't want to hit or be hit four more years."

You all think I am such a stoic and strong person. I cried EVERY DAY of that last week of football. EVERY DAY!!! It rained all day Friday and we played a ground game, we played a good ground game, so we went to St. Paris with high hopes and won 20-0. A dry night might have been a different story.

Well, I wish I could say it was the end of my "Football Mom" career, but alas, Joel was hired to coach middle school football by the during his sophomore year of college. (During his freshman year he did stuff like spot for the announcer and other volunteer stuff) Now, THAT was culture shock but we really loved it! As The Football Mom, I rarely said much of anything and never called out a player! But one day at a 7th grade game, I literally stood up and screamed "Will SOMEBODY PLEASE HIT SOMEBODY?" at the offensive line. I think Jerry was sitting elsewhere, and just moved further away! I was sitting with another Football Mom.

During his junior and senior years of college he was a varsity coach and head JV coach. He was given this opportunity because they were in a rebuilding situation. This fall, he will do something different. Instead of coaching on Saturday mornings, he will break down film for the next week. He will be good at that. He broke down scouting reports in Excel while he was in high school. This will be a different type of analysis.

He hopes for his own team someday; and I will continue to be The Football Mom. But when we talk about relationships, I must talk about the camaraderie we had with the parents during these years. We spent hours upon hours every week with each other. We took care of each others’ kids. We see each other less frequently now, and I truly am grateful for Facebook to keep up with what is going on in their lives. These were important people in our lives for many years, and they are still important to me. We are now in the season of watching our sons launch their lives and it’s a great joy.

Now as a postscript, my son-in-law coaches JV basketball at Worthington Kilbourne High School. This is the LARGE school experience and we spend time supporting his team also. I just learned recently that my cousin's child enters 9th grade at a rival high school this fall. Someone said it would be hard for me to choose who to root for. I said, "No, it won't." This is my life.

Postscript 2016: Joel is in his second year as head coach of a town not TOO far away. He's an Intervention Specialist (Special Ed.) at their high school. It is his fourth year of coaching and teaching there. Last year he was named Coach of the Year for the district (four in the state) in his division (seven in our state). It was his first year as a head coach. He was 26 when hired. They won their league championship and went two games into playoffs. This year they move to another league which will be a challenge. Tonight he plays his high school defensive coordinator's team at another high school.