As a nurse for 38 years I’ve taught fall prevention to patients more than any other single topic. I’ve also received multiple educational opportunities on the subject—at least 38.

Yet sadly, two days after Christmas I tripped while cleaning my house, turned my ankle, and broke my fibula—the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg. As I reviewed (over and over) what happened, how it happened, and what I could have done to prevent it, I identified the root cause/causes. I also realized that I had some work to do in my own home and life.

So here are my top five fall prevention essentials.

Remove Tripping Hazards.

Yes, this was my downfall—literally. A foot-stool, which I subsequently used to prop up the broken leg, stuck out a little too far and I tripped.

  • Keep pathways clear
  • Tape rugs to the floor or remove them completely
  • Fight the clutter ooze. You know what I mean.


Lights! Action!

  • Turn on lights before entering a room, or going up or down stairs.
  • Keep a night light on in the bathroom.
  • Turn on the bedside lamp before getting up to go to the bathroom.
  • Leave your porch light on if you are coming home after dark.


Don’t Be A SlugMaintain physical strength, balance, and mobility

This is admittedly another probable root cause of my broken ankle. My balance is not good and I was unable to recover from the lack of balance/tripping conspiracy. According to the CDC, falls among adults 65 and older caused over 34,000 deaths in 2019, and there are 36 million falls reported among adults older than 65 each year. Many of these are due to loss of balance. I’m not 65, but here I am.

  • Many fitness centers, the YMCA, and other groups, offer exercise classes. You can find a world of exercises, yoga, stretches, and mobility helps online and on YouTube.
  • Some Medicare providers pay for fitness programs.
  • Walk around the block. Walk at the mall. Walk around the inside of your house.
  • Focus on exercises that build your core muscles, those in the center off your body.
  • Ask your doctor to recommend the best exercise(s) for you.


Move With Intention And Forethought

In my recent fall, I turned and changed direction suddenly, lost my balance, and my foot found the stool. It was a terrible tumbling trifecta!

  • Don’t make any sudden changes of direction.
  • Be aware what hazards (pets, uneven ground) is in front of you.
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for a minute before getting up in the night.
  • Take your time. Don’t rush.


Assistive Devices

  • If you need it, there is no shame in using a cane, walker, or wheelchair. It certainly is better than a fall.
  • Put non-slip material in the bottom of your tub or shower. Use a shower chair if necessary.
  • Install grab bars in the shower and beside the toilet.
  • Install hand rails on staircases.
  • Wear proper footwear.
  • Buy a “reacher” so you don’t need to use a foot stool. Keep things you commonly use within arm’s reach.
  • Don’t climb ladders without someone at the bottom to stabilize it.


Now that I’ve done my root-cause analysis and have my list of necessary corrections, I’m hoping I can avoid future falls. Will you join me?


We’ll call it “Fall Free In ’23”!


Please share your favorite fall prevention suggestion in the comments below!


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss


“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” 

Robert Louis Stevenson


The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.”

Benjamin Franklin


“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” 

Abraham Lincoln


“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”

Mark Twain


“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”

Napoléon Bonaparte


“Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.” 

Albert Einstein


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”



“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

  Garrison Keillor


“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.”

Kate DiCamillo


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

 Emilie Buchwald


“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”  Confucius


“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world.  Love of books is the best of all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy


“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

Roald Dahl


These quotes are all by famous people. Do you have a book quote for me? Share it below in the comments.

March 2 was Read Across America Day, celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss. It is a day when we are all encouraged to read a book, especially out loud to children. Schools, libraries, and homes across America love to celebrate this day.

But did you know that the entire month of March is National Reading Month? Yep, it’s true. We get to celebrate reading all month long! Isn’t that amazing?

But how can we celebrate?

I have ten suggestions for ways you, your family, your class, or your group can celebrate.


  1. Read aloud for 15 minutes a day. “To my children,” you ask? Nope. I think it would be great to pick a book and read aloud as a family or class, but even as a couple or a single person there is something special about reading aloud. Read to your cat, your dog, or yourself. Using a second sense will engage different parts of the brain. My younger sister used to read to her cat, Rusty all the time when she was little. Rusty didn’t seem to mind.
  2. Visit your local library and check out not only books, but the variety of activities they offer. I am always amazed when I walk into my local library. Posters and screens grab my attention and tell me all the wonderful things I can find to do at the library. According to my local Youth Services Coordinator, Caitilin Lindsey, this month the Henderson County libraries “are encouraging families to read books nominated for the North Carolina Children’s Choice Book Award so they can vote for their favorites throughout the month of March.”
  3. Go to your local bookstore. Spend some time browsing the shelves. If you need to, leave your billfold in the car. (I am talking to myself there.) Bookstores are not only a great place to buy books and sometimes coffee, but they often host programs such as book signings, author events, book clubs, etc. It is also a wonderful place to find new ideas for books you may want to look for in your library.
  4. Get a library card. I tend to assume everyone has one, because I had one at a young age. One of the first places I visit when I move to a new town is the library. And, once I have that all-important piece of mail to verify my address, I march myself into the library and get a card. It never fails to thrill. Getting a child his or her own library card can be a life-changing event.
  5. Try a new author or genre. We all tend to find authors and genres we like, but how about challenging yourself to trying something new. A biography? A mystery? Are you an adult? Read a middle grade book. (In my humble opinion they are the best.) Non-fiction? History? Science Fiction? A time period you know nothing about? A brand new author? An old book? How about Dickens? (I do better if I listen to Dickens rather than trying to read it.)
  6. Here’s an idea. Pick an audio book and listen to it each morning on your way to work or while driving the kids to school. My sister and her children listened to many Hank The Cow Dog books that way. Have a quiet hour where everyone finds an activity they can do while listening such as coloring, building toys, or simply lying on the floor with your feet on a chair and listen to a book together.
  7. I had an Aunt and Uncle who would host a reading party with their children. They would go out to the picnic table and everyone would bring their book. No one talked. They just sat there and read their books. Sometimes neighbor kids would come and join them. I think this would be the perfect party for an introvert. I’m just guessing as I’m not one. Don’t invite me to this party. I will ruin it.
  8. Have a reading challenge. You can challenge yourself to read a certain number of books or pages. Or gather friends or family and come up with your own group challenge. You could end the month with a party where everyone shares the favorite book that they read.
  9. With Spring on its way, it might be fun to note some of the blossoming plants and reappearing wildlife. Take a nature walk and make a list of the different things you see. Then, take your list to the library and find books about each one. Make it a goal to learn more about the plants and wildlife in your neighborhood. A quick way to learn about something is to go to the nonfiction section of the children’s library and find books on your topic.
  10. Choose an actual official reading time each day. Make it an appointment not to be missed. It can be too easy to make reading an “if I have time I’ll try to read” thing.

As President Harry S Truman said,

Readers of good books, particularly books of biography and history, are preparing themselves for leadership. Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders must be readers.”


Do you have any additional ideas? Please share below in the comments.



Who knew this was a thing. . .Walking a pig, that is.

Let me start at the beginning. Tomorrow, March 1st, is National Pig Day. This realization immediately reminded me of several things. A couple of years ago I read a memoir titled How To Walk A Pig and other lessons in country living by Steven Coffman, published in 1995. I picked it up from a free table at a local library and thoroughly enjoyed his tales of a city person adjusting to farm life. One story involved a pig he had to walk home from the neighbor’s house. It was pretty hilarious, but I never in my life imagined that walking a pig was a real thing.

Fast forward to Fall 2021 when we made our big trip out West. Between book marketing and sales events, we visited family along the way. While visiting Uncle Tom and Aunt Twyla in Nebraska, we had the opportunity to go up the road to their son, Terry’s, place. When we arrived, Terry’s son, Tyler was out walking his pig.  

Yes, you heard me right. He was walking the pig. Turns out they were training the pigs for the fair and that’s part of it. You walk them. He had a switch and with a gentle touch the pig would walk and turn as Tyler wanted him to. I was amazed. Check out the picture I took! It was quite an investment of time as you need to walk them more than once a day.

You think that’s amazing? Listen to this. Those pigs were “potty-trained.” They would wait until they were taken out of their stalls and outside to do their business. I kid you not.

Pigs have been a curiosity to me since I was little, I guess. According to Grandma Jones’ favorite “Miriam Story,” I was unimpressed with what I had been told as a child. Apparently, when I was about five we visited the ranch and Grandma took us down to the barn. I stood at the fence and watched the pigs grunt and snuffle around for a bit, then announced, “Pigs don’t say oink!”

I also loved Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. But they never said anything about training Wilbur to follow directions before the fair. Maybe if they had he would have won first place. I guess it wasn’t in the plot.

So, tomorrow, remember to celebrate pigs. We will celebrate with pulled pork sandwiches.

Don’t tell Wilbur.




A sketch of the village by John Warner Barber (1835) shows the buildings used by the Foreign Mission School, to the right of the church at center.

Today I am delighted to have a guest blogger. My friend, Betty Jamerson Reed has agreed to share her article regarding a piece of history about which I knew nothing! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Love Blooms, School Dies
by Betty Jamerson Reed

It was a great idea! Instead of building schools or seminaries in the far reaches of the uncivilized world, leaders of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions decided to establish a seminary in Cornwall, Connecticut, and educate talented youth from overseas as well as gifted young Native Americans. After completing their course work, those students would return home to serve as preachers, evangelists, businessmen, teachers, and health care workers. The Foreign Mission School would pave the way for its students to experience the civilized world and gain knowledge of other regions by interacting with their classmates.

The school opened in 1817, and students from Hawaii, India, East Asia, and the Indonesian islands began to assemble there. Initially, the seminary was flourishing, but soon its existence was challenged by romance. Love became an issue as the foreign
youngsters and local White girls became attracted to one another and pondered interracial marriages.

Indeed, love had crossed the racial boundary for centuries. French fur traders frequently established homes with Native American wives. The father of the well-known Sequoyah (c. 1770-1843), developer of the Cherokee syllabary, was a White man who served in the Virginia militia. No matter how often such interracial marriages may have taken place, when two Cherokee students at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall (1817-1827), Connecticut, announced their intentions to marry local White girls, hostility reared its ugly head.

In the early 1800s, Cornwall’s residents loathed the idea that any White woman would agree to become the wife of a Native American. But that possibility turned into an intense local issue, one that the community opposed in loud and near-lethal public battles.

Two Cherokee students, who were close relatives, fell in love with the daughters of prominent community members, and the girls they wooed accepted their marriage proposals. One of the cousins eventually became a successful businessman, an essential member of the Tribal Council, a frequent representative of his Nation in Washington, and an attorney. He was the handsome John Ridge. The other was Elias Boudinot, a writer who edited the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Native American newspaper in the United States. Like his cousin, Elias eventually became caught up in tribal politics.

John had suffered frequent bouts of illness since early childhood. Moving to Connecticut with its harsh cold triggered his frailty. He became ill, and his doctor ordered complete bed rest. As time passed and his health did not improve, the school steward, John P. Northrup, invited the ailing youth to move into his family home until he grew strong enough to return to classes.

There Northrup’s 14-year-old daughter carried meals to the 18-year-old John. As the auburn-haired, blue-eyed Sally (Sarah) and the handsome youth spent time in one another’s company, they fell in love (Starkey, 1973). Before long, the couple decided to marry.

Soon they revealed their intentions to Sally’s parents. Learning of their daughter’s wish to wed the Cherokee youth stunned the Northrups. Immediately they took action to end the romance. They sent Sally away to live with her grandparents and strongly urged them to
introduce her to young white men, but that ploy failed. Being separated from the man she loved depressed Sally, and she lost her appetite, refused to eat, and became ill. Her grandparents became concerned about their granddaughter’s illness and sent her back home. There she soon learned that her suitor faced the same dilemma.

John had also failed to gain his parents’ blessing for their marriage. In addition to Sally’s being white, their refusal stemmed from the matrilinear practice of the Cherokee Nation; Cherokee children became citizens by way of their mother’s lineage. Marriage to a white woman would rob John’s offspring of their Cherokee heritage (Starkey, 1973).

But John refused to give up. He persisted in begging for approval to marry Sally. Finally, his mother gave John the hoped-for permission, but the Northrups held firm, refusing to sanction their daughter’s marriage to a Cherokee.

Sally’s response was just as strong. She continued to plead with her parents to allow her to become John’s wife. At last, the Northrups offered a compromise: If Sally agreed to postpone the marriage for two years and if John’s health improved, they would allow the wedding to take place Elated, the couple agreed to the arrangement (Ehle, 1988, 164).

After two years passed, the couple continued to profess their love for one another and their desire to become husband and wife. With permission from each set of parents, the couple announced their wedding plans. At once, the Connecticut community proclaimed its horror at such a marriage. Local journalists ridiculed Sally’s willingness to become a “squaw” by marrying a “savage.” Public outrage permeated the town. The community forbade any such union and resorted to terror tactics, but such hostility did not halt the marriage.

The couple became husband and wife in a wedding held at the Northrup home on January 27, 1824. The town’s citizens ordered the couple to leave their village. At once, John took his bride far away to the Cherokee Nation, where Sally received a warm welcome. Eventually, the Cherokee leaders changed their laws allowing John to assume an active role in the tribal council.

But romance also blossomed for his cousin, Elias Boudinot. Another scandal occurred when that young man fell in love with a White girl. It happened this way: Colonel Benjamin Gold, a prominent citizen well-known throughout Connecticut, supported the Foreign Mission School and entertained its students in his home. There Elias met the Colonel’s daughter Harriet, and the two formed a friendship. Elias became ill and returned to his home without graduating, but he and Harriet corresponded. In the beginning, she was simply concerned about her friend’s health, but their letters became filled with an exchange of interests and opinions. They shared a great deal in common, despite their racial backgrounds. As time passed, the couple professed their love for one another, and Elias proposed in one of his letters. Harriet accepted. Then she shared her intention to marry the brilliant Cherokee with her parents.

From the very moment Colonel Gold learned that his daughter wanted to become Elias’s wife, he ordered her to put any thought of marrying that Cherokee out of her mind. Horrified, the young woman lost her appetite, refused to eat, and became visibly depressed. Heartbroken, Harriet projected an aura of sadness and grief. She was heartbroken.

Her condition worried her parents and caused them great anxiety. Alarmed about Harriet’s health, the Golds agreed, though reluctantly, to the couple’s marriage. Once their wedding plans became public knowledge, rage tore through the community with rocket speed. White men bombarded Elias with letters threatening to lynch him if he showed his face in Cornwall. They ordered him to stay away or face dire consequences. Despite all this furor, the brave Elias returned to marry his betrothed.

His arrival heightened public resentment. Anti-Cherokee sentiment highlighted newspaper editorials. Cornwall residents tarred and feathered figures representing the young lovers. Local townspeople burned the couple in effigy on the village green, with Harriet’s brother, Stephen, lighting the pyre.

Unwilling to deny their daughter’s happiness, the Golds continued with plans for her wedding. The couple exchanged marriage vows on March 28, 1826. Due to continuing intimidation, the couple was surrounded by guards, even on their wedding night. The next day Elias left for home with his bride (Starkey, 1973, 73). Later, Harriet wrote “I remember the . . . thorny path I had to tread . . . but . . . a kind affectionate devoted Husband . . . with other blessings, have made amends for all.” (

Despite the outcry brought on by their love affairs, each couple enjoyed a happy marriage, though each ended in tragedy. Becoming the wife of a rich and powerful man opened the door to an exciting lifestyle for each woman.

Sally and Harriett also found pleasure in the companionship of White missionary couples and teachers. With the onset of motherhood, the two women became actively involved in their children’s education. Sally invited educator Sophia Sawyer to set up a classroom in her home to instruct local children. There Harriet often taught music and performed for the students (Carter, 1976). Each woman relished her life in the Cherokee Nation.

But tragedy ended the Boudinot marriage. On August 14, 1836, Harriet died due to complications from childbirth. Though devastated, Elias had his children to think of, and, in the spring of 1837, he married Delight Sargent, a white missionary teacher.

But trouble crushed the lifestyle enjoyed among the Cherokees. Peace in their Nation ended because greed and politics spawned ill will. The discovery of gold on tribal land stirred the envy of their white neighbors. It caused the leaders in Washington to investigate the possibility of moving the Cherokee Nation to land in the West. The citizens of Georgia demanded ownership of Cherokee property, and Andrew Jackson, with the support of other politicians, gained the congressional endorsement of an act to remove the Cherokee nation. Ensuing greed led to the state’s sponsoring a lottery of tribal property, which allowed citizens of Georgia to gain possession of homes, orchards, farms, and all other Cherokee possessions.

The debate about the Removal of the Cherokee Nation to territory in the West continued, but, finally, all the political haggling in Washington ended with the signing of the Treaty of New Echota, which compelled the Cherokee Nation to exchange their long-held tribal lands for territory in the West. Those Cherokees who voluntarily signed the treaty were denounced for betraying their people. Two of those were John Ridge and Elias Boudinot; each man signed because he was convinced that the tribe’s removal was inevitable and pointless to continue fighting against such action. Once John and Elias had agreed to exchange their tribe’s seven million acres for five million dollars and territory in the West, their tribe members denounced them as traitors.

But the unhappy Cherokees had to postpone taking action against such seditious acts because more immediate problems demanded their attention. Their people, accompanied by a military escort, would be forced to march to their new home if they could find no other means to travel. Few Cherokee families could afford to move west without joining the march. The wealthy John Ridge, accompanied by Sally and their children, went on ahead to the Indian Territory to prepare for the arrival of their neighbors and friends. In anticipation of their arrival, John built a store, a schoolhouse, and other accommodations. He and his wife also traveled to New York and brought back supplies to be available to his tribesmen upon their arrival.

After their “march” ended, those Cherokees who had survived its rigors collapsed to rest and recuperate. But once the survivors regained their strength, they yearned for revenge against any member of their nation who had sold out their tribe by agreeing to the move westward. To do so, they invoked the traditional Cherokee “blood law,” which required vengeance. So, early on the morning of June 22, 1839, sounds of a home invasion awakened the John Ridge family. Assassins dragged John from his bed out into the yard and stabbed him multiple times. Men restrained Sally from rushing to his side, but, as he lay dying, John lifted his head and locked eyes with his wife. He started to speak, but could not express himself because blood was filling his mouth (Ehle, 1988). Their marriage ended there with Sally’s beloved husband lying dead on the ground. Frightened for the lives of her children and her own, Sally soon fled to Arkansas and lived there until pneumonia claimed her life on March 31, 1852.

On that same day–June 22, 1839− Elias Boudinot set out to check on the construction of a house he was building for his family. As he drew near the site, a man approached him, calling out that a sick family needed medicine. Since dispensing medication was one of his duties, Elias turned back to join the man and two others. He walked just ahead of them as he returned to pick up the needed medication. He took only a few steps before they attacked him.

Sounds of violence brought the carpenters and Elias’s bride, Delight, rushing to the scene. There they found the body of Elias on the ground with a knife in his back and his scalp severed by a tomahawk. His assassins had fled from the scene (Starkey, 1973). Delight knelt beside her husband, calling his name, but he could not answer. All life had left his body.

Horrified, but with concern for others in danger, Delight postponed giving in to the agony of grief to warn others who might be in trouble, such as Chief John Rolf and her brother-in-law Stan Watie (Starkey, 1973, 313). Only after sending hurried messages to potential victims did Delight allow personal heartbreak to engulf her (Starkey, 1973). A short time later she returned to New England to care for her stepchildren, who were away visiting their grandparents at the time of their father’s murder.

Back in Connecticut, love continued to challenge relations between the seminary and the community. Other romances between local girls and foreign students blossomed in Cornwall, and the Foreign Mission School, founded to educate talented young men from “heathen” worlds,
closed its doors. Its directors stated simply that it would be best for the young men to return to their homelands to receive further education and training. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions shuttered the school in 1826. Love was one major cause of its demise, proving that even great ideas can fail.

Carter, Samuel, III. 1976. Cherokee Sunset: A Nation Betrayed. New York: Doubleday.

Connecticut Humanities. 2022. “An Experiment in Evangelization: Cornwall’s Foreign Mission School.” Accessed February 04, 2022.

Ehle, John. 1988. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Anchor Books.

Hendricks, Nancy. “Sarah Bird Northrup Ridge (1804–1856).” Accessed February 4, 2022.

Pate, James P. 2022. “Ridge, John.” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed February 4, 2022.

Poole, Arlen D. “Life of Sarah Bird Northrup Ridge.” Flashback 57 (Summer 2007): 49–66. Accessed February 19, 2022.

Starkey, Marion L. 1946. The Cherokee Nation. New York: Knopf.

Used by Permission: copyright Betty Jamerson Reed 2022


To connect with Betty:  OR on—authors page and McFarland.




About motivation.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? How are you doing with it? I started early, last September to be exact. And they really weren’t resolutions. I decided on new habits and routines. I did great through September, and most of October, but then my enthusiasm-over-preparation caused a musculoskeletal issue that brought part of it to a screeching halt.


This launched me into the beginnings of a new career, Freelance Writing, which has been a sharp learning curve. You might wonder how that can be, with my writing history, but fiction is not the same as freelance writing. Not at all. But, this article isn’t about that.


One of the resources I discovered was You Tube, where I heard an inspirational phrase that has been extremely helpful.


You’ll Never Feel Like It.


This mantra was used to explain why instead of hitting the snooze button, you should just get up. After all, you’ll never feel like getting up. And it fits so many things.


I’ll never feel like cleaning the toilet. I’ll never feel like going outside and taking a walk on a cold, rainy day. I’ll never feel like paying bills or doing tax paperwork. (Although, realistically I could feel like taking a walk on a cold, rainy day rather than doing tax paperwork.) Oh well, you get the idea.


So, there have been many days when I’ve used that mantra. Some mornings it has helped me prod my body out of the bed. Other mornings it hasn’t.


But, it has been a truth bomb in my life.


It reminded me of another saying I learned almost thirty years ago at college. A friend told me she didn’t want to do something, but she would do it WIFLION.


Wifli-what? I asked.


“WIFLION,” she repeated. “Whether I Feel Like It Or Not. WIFLION.”


Believe me, I’ve used that one over and over through the years, and it has come in handy the past few months.


Yesterday I realized that I could also use the acronym for I’ll Never Feel Like It. INFLI.


So this afternoon, when I didn’t really feel like working on my freelance writing business, I pulled the acronyms out of my pocket and I did it WIFLION. Because, after all, INFLI!


Do you have any motivational sayings, or acronyms you find helpful? Please share below in the comments!

I wrote this piece several years ago and just rediscovered it when I was looking for another document in my computer. I thought it would be fun to share. Enjoy!


The Purple Kangaroo – A Legacy Story


   One of the things I like about being a nurse is the difference I make in lives. Not just in caring for people physically, but in helping them through a tough time, emotionally. Of course, I sometimes end up receiving as much encouragement from my patients as I give. In fact I’m kind of used to that, but if I had known. If I had known what an impact this patient would make!

   The shift started like many others. I had received report from one of my close friends, Justine and was reviewing my charts to see what meds I needed to give right away.

   “Have a good night, Brenda.”  Looking up from the chart I saw Justine, bundled up in coat, hat, and gloves. 

   “You too.  Drive carefully, it’s slippery out there.  Hey, why don’t you call when you get home.  Then we’ll know you made it. 

   “Okay.  But don’t send out the cavalry too soon.  It’ll take me a good forty-five minutes if the roads are bad.”

     “Sure,” I agreed.

     “Oh!” she said. “I forgot to tell you. The patient in 705, Rose, has a number on the front of her chart.  It’s for her nephew, Don.

     Turning to the front of the chart I spotted the sticker and quickly read it,

                        Rosie’s favorite middle South Dakota nephew:  Don Johnson

                        341-2245    Cell phone: 484-5665.  Call anytime.

I glanced at Justine, my brow raised.  She shrugged, grinning.  “You ask. She was still sleepy after the versed they gave her during her pacemaker insertion. I don’t think you will need him, but just in case!”  She laughed as she disappeared into the elevator hallway.

   Shaking my head I closed the chart and placed it back in the rack.

   Ding. I glanced around at the rooms surrounding the nurses station on three sides.  The call light was on over the door to room 705.  Well, I guess that’s where I’ll start tonight.

   Entering Rose’s room I reviewed her diagnosis and the things Justine had told me in report. Rose was an 82 year old lady who was admitted after passing out at home. She had been diagnosed with a rhythm problem and a pacemaker had been inserted this evening. She had no previous history except for arthritis, and lived independently. She had no children, but apparently she did have family.

   “Knock, knock.” I entered the room quietly. Switching on the light over the sink, I turned to the bed. “Hi Rose, I’m your nurse, Brenda Jackson. I’ll be here all night. Did you need something?”

     Giving me a blank look, the tiny white haired lady shook her head slowly. “No honey, did I push that button again? I was just trying to turn on the light so I could see the clock. I’m left handed and I’m not very good with my right hand. She pointed to the sling holding her left arm still. 

   “No problem,” I assured her.  I needed to check you over anyway. Can I listen to your heart and lungs and check your incision?”

   A few minutes later, I had finished my assessment and was ready to move on. “Well, I think that’s all.  I’ll let you get back to sleep. You call if you need anything. Don’t try to get up by yourself, you may be a little wobbly. And call me if that incision starts hurting.”

   “I surely will,” she responded with a thousand watt smile that reminded me suddenly of my Grandma. I felt a stab in my heart as I thought of Grandma Jackson, who had died six months before. The hole in my life was still huge.

   “Good night, then.” I turned to leave the room.

   “Did you see my purple kangaroo?”

   Startled I turned around. “Pardon me?”

   “My purple kangaroo.” She pointed toward the bedside dresser. “Did you see it?”

   As my eyes followed her right hand, two thoughts flashed through my mind. First, is it a full moon? And secondly, does she have Sun-downers? Any nurse will tell you that full moons incite confusion and restlessness. And Sun-downers, a term we use for elderly people who are perfectly normal in the daylight, but become confused and/or paranoid at night, can strike terror to the heart of any hardy nurse.

   But no, there it was, sitting on the table amongst the flower arrangements. A purple kangaroo, about twelve inches tall.

   “Wow,” I said, amazed and relieved. “That is one unusual piece.”

   Laughing, she nodded. “It sure is. Open it!”

   Reaching the table, I lifted the top and the head slid back on a hinge. It was filled to the brim with chocolate kisses.

   I  whistled appreciatively. “A secret stash!” 

   “Take one,” she said. “And unwrap one for me. I feel the need of a little chocolate fix. You know, with chocolate and Jesus, you can get through anything!”

   I choked back tears as I unwrapped one for her, then one for me. After regaining my composure I said. “I knew I was going to like you.  Where did you get that thing? And,” I hesitated.

   “Why?” Her eyes twinkled.

   “That’s where I was headed,” I said, surprised she could read me so easily.

   “I got that from my favorite middle South Dakota nephew.”

   “Oh, Don,” I said. 

   Now it was her turn to look puzzled. “How did you know?”

   “He left his number for us, and that’s how he signed the paper. ‘Rose’s favorite middle South Dakota nephew.’”

   Rose’s tinkling laughter filled the room. “That boy sure does spoil me. He said he found that kangaroo in an airport shop on his last trip. He travels all the time for his work, you know. He said he couldn’t pass it up, especially when he realized it would hold a couple of packages of chocolate kisses.”

   “But why a Purple Kangaroo?” I asked, baffled.

   “Well, when my nieces and nephews were young they would come stay with me. I never married and had children of my own so I enjoyed having them come. I had a book that we would read often. It was about this purple kangaroo who was different from all the rest. Being purple, that is. Anyway, the theme of the story was that being different is okay. The purple kangaroo saved the day somehow, I can’t even remember the story now, but evidently he did. Read the card he attached to it.

   I turned back to the unsightly animal and opened the card attached by a ribbon to the neck.

   Dear Aunt Rose, Thank you for teaching me the lesson of the purple kangaroo. Whenever I feel like my life isn’t normal, or regret things I don’t have, I remember the life lessons you taught us through your example. You are my hero!  Love, Your Favorite Middle South Dakota Nephew.

   “You know,” Rose said, I always thought I would regret not having children when I was old. But now that I am getting close to old age, I know that I have been blessed.”

   Before I could respond I heard the phone ringing at the desk. “Excuse me, I need to get that,” I said.

   “You go ahead, dear.  I don’t want to keep you from your work.  You sneak in here anytime and get a chocolate.”

   “Thanks.”  I hurried out the door.

   “Hello.” I answered the phone looking around for my two co-workers. I could hear their voices from another room.

   “Hey, Brenda. It’s me. It’s really bad out here. I’m not going home. I almost hit a car trying to get out of the parking lot, so I came over here to your house. Do you mind?”

   Relief followed the fear that had washed over me as I heard Justine’s voice, knowing it was too soon for her to be home.

   “You know it’s okay! Make yourself at home.” Justine often stayed with me when the weather was bad, or she was too tired after a night shift to drive home.

   “Thanks. How is it there? Are things settling down?” she asked.

   “I think it’s going to be good. I have been getting life lessons from Rose and her purple kangaroo.” I replied. “She almost made me cry. She reminds me of Grandma. She even said the chocolate and Jesus thing.” I rushed on, not wanting to let my emotions take over. I was tired of crying. Tired of the depression I had been experiencing the past few months. “I’ll tell you about it in the morning. But, I’ve been thinking,” I said.  “How would you like to take a long weekend and drive to Jenny’s house. I need to see my nephews.”

   “Sure, that would be great.  Speaking of nephews, did you find out about the favorite nephew thing?”

   “No, I didn’t get a chance to ask, she was explaining the purple kangaroo.  But I don’t think I need to ask.  I think I know why.”

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.


The other day at the store, I saw an elderly man wearing a World War II veteran cap. I looked him in the eye and thanked him for his service. “You’re welcome,” he said, a pleased smile lighting up his face. Bruce and I commented on the fact that there aren’t very many veterans left from World War II, especially ones who are able to take themselves to the store.


I’ve always felt like World War II was so long ago, in the dim, distant past, as my aunt used to say. And, don’t get me started on the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, let alone the 1600s! But time is skewing those impressions. Or maybe, it is righting them.


Recently, I realized that it was only eleven years between the time my mother died, in 1973, and when I started nursing school. Only eleven years? How can that be? So much of my growing up occurred during those years. On the other hand, what seems like it may have been eleven years ago, was 1990, which, of course, has been (gasp) thirty-three years. No way!


Then, this thought struck me. Twenty years before I was born, we were in the middle of World War II and the Holocaust.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the death camps, was liberated on January 27, 1945, which is why this date was chosen for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Other than the celebration of this liberation, it’s not a day in which we remember a victory. It’s not a remembrance day where we are delighting in the birth of someone important. No, it is the remembrance of an evil, horrific, planned execution of a whole ethnic group of innocent people. And this was only twenty years before I was born.


Last week my husband and I watched a documentary titled Nicky’s Family. It is the story of one man who made a difference and the families he helped. A young business man, Nicholas Winton, was made aware of the desperate situation of Jews in Czechoslovakia, and he single-handedly succeeded in saving 669 children by finding them “temporary” homes in England and other places. It is the powerful account of the difference one man can make.

Here is a link to information about this documentary.


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana


I would encourage you to spend some time this week remembering the lives lost. Consider how you might make a difference in your own community with the challenges we face. Both the man in the grocery store and Mr. Winton answered the call facing them. How about us?


If you have stories of people who served in World War II, survivors of the Holocaust, or other good documentaries or books on this topic, feel free to share them below in the comments.



  • Several years ago, I read the biography, Truman, by David McCullough. I knew very little about President Truman before that, so the book was an eye-opening experience. After all, that time period is the back story to my life, the era of my parents’ childhoods. To be honest, there was a lot going on in the world during that time, and Truman ended up involved in most of it in one way or another.


The fact that a farmer from Missouri could end up in the White House, almost by accident, was incredible. Yet, he did. And he took responsibility and made tough decisions. Then, when he was done, he went home and walked to “work” at his Presidential library every day. The first presidential library.


So after reading the book, I realized that nearly every time we drove to South Dakota from North Carolina, we went right past Independence, Missouri, and the signs that point the way to his home and his presidential library. It became my goal, my dream, to visit his library. I’d never been to a presidential library, and this seemed like a perfect place to start.


But, it wasn’t that simple. Our trips back and forth were often made with as much speed as we could manage. After all, when it takes 27 hours to make the trip, you don’t really have time for sight-seeing. But every time we passed the signs I would say, “One day!”


About the time we got serious about visiting, they closed for renovations. Then the pandemic happened. But this past Thanksgiving week, “someday” became “this day” and we stopped in Independence and spent several wonderful hours exploring the museum/library. There was so much history there, a lot of it sobering, as it dealt with several wars.


I came away, thankful once again for the man that was Harry Truman and the gifts God gave him. Someday, I would love to go back. But, there are other presidential libraries!


A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Mornings on Horseback, also by David McCullough. It’s not a biography, but rather the chronicling of a family, the Roosevelt family. It starts with President Theodore Roosevelt’s grandparents and parents, and then settles into a close-up-and-personal look at the family in which Teddy Roosevelt grew up. It follows them through to the point where Teddy is about to marry his second wife, then quickly ties up the loose ends, letting you know how each of his siblings’ lives went after that.


It was an incredibly detailed look at the life of a privileged family in the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th.


The thing that most caught my attention, though, was a note from the author explaining how he decided to write the book. When he was researching for his books on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal, (both on my must-read list) he discovered this massive collection of letters from the Roosevelt family, housed at Harvard. Every Roosevelt was a prolific letter writer. The author recognized in them a treasure trove of first person accounts of this time period in history. How could he not write the story? And wow, I’m super glad he did!


Only now I want to go to Harvard to see those letters.


Please comment below if you have visited any of the presidential libraries or have ever been inspired to visit a historic site because you read about it in a book.


If you are interested in visiting a Presidential Library, you can find a list of them at this site:


Here is a link to information about the Theodore Roosevelt Collection:




Fifty years ago today, January 11, 1973, my life as I knew it ended. That afternoon my almost 35 year old mother went to fix supper, and in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, she went to heaven instead. This date is always a contemplative day for me. I usually am a little sad. And, to be honest, when you lose a parent at ten, the trauma becomes part of who you are.

But today, I don’t want to be sad. I want to remember that on January 11, 1973, somewhere between four and five in the afternoon, my Mommy saw Jesus for the first time! I don’t believe she worried for a moment about us, or about Daddy. I believe she knew instantly that God would take care of us, and HE DID! The moment she died, HE began pouring grace on us.

Today, I am revisiting a post I wrote several years ago. I hope you find it helpful.

Nine Ways To Support A Grieving Family When The Unthinkable Happens

Every time I hear of another family who has suffered the loss of a young parent, my heart constricts with painful memories. Losing a parent as a young child is a life-altering event. Even though I’ve been through this very situation, I find myself uncertain as to how to support them, I know to pray. That, after all is the best thing I can do. But there has to be more. Here are a few ideas for how to support a grieving family.

1. Support the remaining parent in any way you can.

The truth is, if the parent is okay, the children will be okay. My greatest fear was that something would happen to Daddy. Beyond the physical needs of the parent, the emotional stability and coping ability is crucial. The children will gain confidence as they see their parent coping. Now I don’t mean that they should never fall apart. Seeing your parent fall apart at the appropriate time can be a valuable learning experience in itself. But, if the parent has the right support to handle those moments life can right itself.


2. Try and keep things as normal as possible.

Of course it can never be the same again, but the children will find comfort in tradition and routine. Family rituals become all-important. If you know that the missing parent used to do something special, ask if you can help carry on the tradition—not to take the parent’s place, but to celebrate a tradition they started.


3. Keep any letters or emails you have from the deceased—especially those that mention the children in any fun or positive way.

My aunt kept all of the typed letters my mother sent her family, and after several years, she gave us each a copy of all of them. This is a treasure beyond description. An album of photos from the parent’s childhood, and photos of the parent with the children would be great too.


4. Don’t be afraid to talk about the deceased.

Tell stories. Relate personality traits about the parent that the child might not be aware of, if appropriate. My step-mom was actually really astute at getting Daddy to tell us things about our mother. Children who lose a parent are afraid they will forget how the parent sounds and what they looked like.


5. Offer practical help. And hugs.

If it is a mother that dies and she has preteen daughters, take them shopping for personal items. Let the dad know you are available for any conversations he might need help with. I would imagine this could be a problem for a family of boys when Dad dies. If your child is a close friend to one of the children, invite them over as before, but give more hugs. Hugs from one of your Mommy’s friends helps more than words can say.


6. Offer help with cleaning, cooking, or just giving the parent an evening off.

They need time to themselves, and sometimes the kids may need a fun evening too.


7. Extended families are crucial.

Our grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even cousins were our security blanket. We spent time with grandparents and gave Daddy time alone. Two of our mother’s sisters and families visited the next summer, helping with housework, and making sure we were doing okay. Daddy’s aunt and uncle stopped by frequently to check on us. His brother and parents were always just a couple of hours away and we could go there for a quick visit on the weekend for love and encouragement.


8. Consider offering to pay for the children to go to a grief camp.

There were no such places when I was young. But, we had a family. Intact. Caring. Present. In addition we had a church family with several ladies who were close enough to give us the hugs we needed. We had a Daddy who either kept himself together, or knew where to go when he didn’t. But, most of all we had the Lord and He met our every need. Just like He promised. But, not everyone has all of those resources, and some children might need more than they can offer! A grief camp can be an experience with life-long benefits.

9. Pray for them.

Like I said at the top, prayer is the best thing you can do. Pray that God will give the remaining parent wisdom, comfort, and strength for the difficult road ahead. Pray for the children that they will have the resources they need to deal with the trauma. Pray that God will give YOU ideas of additional ways to support this family.

Please share any other ideas for how to support a grieving family in the comments!