Eighteen years ago last week, I met her. Bruce insisted that we visit Chicago on our honeymoon so I could meet Grandpa Hy and Grandma Babs Mizruchy, his honorary Jewish grandparents. Bruce became “part of the family” when he worked with Grandpa Hy and Grandma Babs’ daughter, Marlene. She invited him home for Thanksgiving and Bruce was welcomed into this very Jewish family. Can you be “very” Jewish? I would like to ask Grandma Babs that.


I instantly fell in love with both of them, but especially Grandma Babs. We were what you call kindred spirits. She seemed to be amazed by me, and I certainly was amazed by her. And, Gpa Hy had a way of asking penetrating, thought-provoking questions that reminded me so much of Grandpa McKnight. I actually remember thinking, this feels very much like being at Grandma and Grandpa McKnight’s house. (They were my “very” Baptist grandparents.) It was love at first sight.


For the first four years of our marriage our trips home always led through Nebraska so we could see Grandma Jones. But, then in October of 2009 both Grandma Jones and Grandpa Hy died. Both the same week.


So, we decided that we would switch our route so that either coming, or going, we would travel through Chicago. We could stay with our friend-like-a-sister Rita, and visit Grandma Babs. I believe we’ve seen her every year since then, at least once. (Except during Covid.)  During the years after Daddy’s stroke, it was sometimes more often.


Now, Grandma Babs wasn’t young. On her last birthday, she was 104. Yes, 104. And with the help of live-in caregivers, she was still in her own home, still answering our phone calls. Last November we stopped by, just for a couple of minutes to give her a hug and some applesauce cake. She always wanted Bruce’s applesauce cake, and it would not do to think of leaving out the raisins or nuts. “I want all of it, all that I can get,” she would say.


Over the years, Grandma Babs shared stories of her ancestors. They came from Russia during some of the pograms. Her parents came as young people. Some of her mother’s family went to Canada, some to Mexico, and some to Chicago. It just depended on which country would let them in. She told of her mother writing letters for people to send home to Russia, because they couldn’t write. She told of her parent’s lives, her life as a child, her life with Grandpa Hy (over 70 years), and her thoughts on the world today.


I learned so much about overcoming the ups and downs of jobs, married life, tragedies, and life in general. I learned how to host a simple snack when company comes. I learned the importance of always showing interest in the lives of others. I learned how to treat those you are paying to care for you. And, I learned how to answer the question, “How are you doing?” Grandma Babs would say, “Accordingly. I am (states her age) after all.” She said she got that from her mother. I have adopted the answer. It fits no matter the situation.


In May we got word that Grandma Babs had passed. We are broken hearted. Grandma Babs was a lady. People would say she was “quite the lady,” but that doesn’t cover it. Grandma Babs was simply wonderful.


I recently picked up a middle-grade novel at the public library. It is titled A Sky Full of Song by Susan Lynn Meyer. The story is about a Jewish family that immigrates to North Dakota from Russia during the pograms to escape the persecution. It is mentioned in the book about those who settled in Chicago. My mind went right back to Grandma Babs’ stories. As I read the book I wished I could tell Grandma Babs about it. But, I can’t so I’m telling you. Read it.


I have been blessed in my life with many, many great examples of humor, human kindness, acceptance, love, grace, courage, and hard work. I am thankful that Grandma Babs was one of them. I will never, ever forget her.

April 16th was the 118th anniversary of the day my grandpa, George Lee Jones was born. It seems impossible that he has been in heaven 25 years already, but it’s true. I can still picture him pouring cream over a piece of pie Grandma baked, sitting on his stool while milking the cow, or bouncing around the pasture in his white Ford pickup, one hand on the wheel. For me, these memories bring inspiration. Memories, they are like gifts that keep on giving.

To celebrate Grandpa’s birthday, I thought I would share a little about one of my current projects. If you have followed my blog over the past several years, you know that my first mystery, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch was set on, and inspired by Grandpa’s ranch, south of Berwyn, Nebraska. In addition the last book in the series is also set on what was Grandpa’s ranch and the cover has a picture of the ranch. 

When we were kids, we spent a week or two several different summers out on the ranch with cousins. It might have been only two summers, but it seemed like a huge part of our childhood. So many great memories.                                     

If you’ve ever attended one of my speaking opportunities or workshops on the writing process, you’ve most likely heard the story about A Boy Named George. That’s because, in order to explain to students why I became an author, this story has to be told. And so I tell it.

Fast forward to the present. After nearly 25 years of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing books I am finally working on the picture book I originally wanted to write. It is the story of George’s Journey, a fictional retelling of the migration Grandpa’s family made from Kansas to Nebraska when he was eight. It involves a covered wagon, cold, dust, and adventures.

The advice I was given all of those years ago about picture books being the hardest ones to write was true. Cramming such a grand story into eight hundred words seems an impossible task. But, it is one I’m determined to accomplish. Stay tuned for more on this topic. Writing a manuscript is just the beginning of the process. After that the real “hard work” starts.

But, like Uncle Jim once said, “Dad (George) didn’t teach us to give up just because it was hard.”

To Celebrate National Siblings Day


My social network feeds are full of photos of families, all dressed up for Easter. Siblings all in a row, delighted or annoyed by their beautiful clothes, depending on the child’s perception of such things. It reminds me of such pictures with my own siblings.

Today is also National Siblings Day, celebrated each year on April 10th. I think this is perfect, as it is the anniversary of the birth of my younger sister, the last sibling to join us.

National Siblings Day was started by Claudia Evart in 1995 in order to “establish a national day of recognition for brothers and sisters. . . an uplifting celebration honoring people who have helped in our development and who have shaped our values, beliefs, and ideals.”


Many studies have been done to see if they can learn ways in which siblings are the same or different. In addition, they have searched for the ways our siblings effect us. Most of the results are not surprising. Here are a few benefits to being part of a sibling group.


Social and Life Skills

Siblings can help navigate the social settings children find themselves encountering. Having an older sister or brother at school can make all the difference to an uncertain child. Siblings watch each other interact and see what works and what doesn’t. Smart siblings don’t make the same mistakes! Siblings can also be helpful in learning life skills. Things like, “you snooze, you lose” can be one learned at the dinner table in a large family. Other nicer examples can be a sibling who shows you how to tie your shoe string, how to make cookies, or even how to approach your parent with a request.


Playmates and Babysitters

Siblings are your first playmates. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy. They can be the source of the greatest ideas for what to do when bored. They can also get you in a lot of trouble with those ideas. Older siblings can act as baby sitters. I’m not sure this should be called a benefit, at least not from the younger sibling’s viewpoint. And to be honest, it can be a difficult job for the older sibling if the younger ones don’t want to listen. But, it is definitely a win for the parents.


Not Just For Childhood

Siblings can be life-long friends. They are usually the family members who will be with you for the longest period of your life. In addition, they can provide you with more siblings (in-laws) and niblings (nieces and nephews). This enlarges your family circle and gives you a built in support group for all of the ups-and-downs of life. Should one of you have an only child, those cousins can come in super handy as substitute siblings.


Help as Parents Age

Dealing with the challenges of aging parents can be a small task, or an overwhelming one. If you have siblings, and you work well together, it can go much smoother. This was crucial for our family when Daddy had his strokes and required in-home extended care. It was a group effort. Some were more hands on, and others used their abilities to provide in other ways. It was a beautiful thing to behold in the midst of trying days, months, and years.


So, if you have siblings make sure they hear from you today and often. Build those relationships. Sometimes it does take effort, lots of grace, and determination to look past our individual personality traits, but in the end it is one of the most important things you can do to provide yourself with an invaluable support system.


Finally, I love you Cheryl Eggers, Clark Jones, and Vonda Jones. I thank God he gave you a sister like me. No wait. That wasn’t right. I thank God He gave ME siblings like YOU. Whew!


At physical therapy yesterday I overheard part of a conversation. Apparently the patient shared that she was from elsewhere, but had lived here about twenty years. “Twenty years,” the therapist said. “You should be a local by now!”

I’m not so sure about that. After all, the Bradleys arrived in western North Carolina  before the Revolutionary War, and the only way I get “local credibility” with my local patients is when I mention that my husband is from here, and in fact was born in the hospital where I now work.

It made me think about home. What is home? Where is home?

When I got married my wise uncle, Jim Jones told me, “home is where you make it.” Great advice for a middle aged woman leaving her entire family and moving from South Dakota to South Florida in July. I took it to heart, but still when I was asked where I was from I always said South Dakota, or the Great Plains states.

When I’m getting ready to go visit my family in South Dakota or Nebraska I tell people I am going home for a visit. I’ve certainly never considered that I would ever think of myself as being “from North Carolina.”

Yet, here I am. I realized a couple of weeks ago that not only have I lived longer in Hendersonville than any other city, but I’ve lived in this house longer than any other house, by a long shot. And to top it off, I’ve worked at Pardee hospital eleven years now, one year longer than any other hospital.

So, is this home?  Maybe, but not completely.  After all, you can take the girl out of the Great Plains, but I don’t think you can ever take the Great Plains out of the girl. That’s where I grew up. It is where my parent and siblings, nieces and nephews mostly reside. It is home.

But there’s one thing that seals the deal. It isn’t the house, the town, or the job. It’s the husband. Home is where my husband is.

Last week my husband asked about a Spanish Rice dish I remembered from my childhood. We’ve discussed this before. His mother’s Spanish Rice did not have meat. Mine had hamburger. But, other than that they seemed quite similar.

So, I confidently went to the box that holds recipes from three generations and looked. I was sure it was there, but it wasn’t. My next step was the Betty Crocker cookbook I inherited from Grandma McKnight. It was identical to my mother’s copy which my sister had (until her dog ate it.)

Anyway, there under the rice section was a recipe for Spanish Rice. But, it wasn’t at all like we remembered. However, across the page was one titled Texas Hash and it looked to be the right recipe, so Bruce made it.

Wow! You know that moment when something takes you right back to your childhood? This was one of those moments. It was delicious.

Old recipe books sometimes are outdated. Sometimes they are pushed aside because of newer ones with glossier pictures. But there are still people in this world who love cookbooks. Old ones or new ones, practical or impractical, it matters not. I am unashamedly one of those people.

I can lose myself for hours in a pile of cookbooks. If it is one of those community cookbooks, I can lose myself for hours in ONE cookbook! I have one with about fifty tiny post-its fluttering from the book where I marked a page because the recipe looked good. I may never do anything with all of them, but they are there for future reference.

It seems the internet is taking the place of cookbooks, and I’m not immune to this. We have a huge three-ring binder filled with recipes discovered on the internet or you-tube and printed off for “Bruce and Miriam’s” cookbook. Often we look through this collection when seeking for inspiration.

But, this week was potluck Sunday at our church and we knew right away what we would take. We made up another batch of the Texas Hash/Spanish Rice and off we went to church. It was well received. The classics always are, aren’t they?


Today is World Poetry Day, so I am sharing a piece I wrote and published in All I Have Needed – A Legacy For Life. I hope you enjoy it. I am thankful for a legacy of simple beauty and simple living.



  Life did not bring me silken gowns,

  Nor jewels for my hair,

  Nor signs of gabled foreign towns

  In distant countries fair,

But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.


  The brambled cares of everyday,

  The tiny humdrum things,

  May bind my feet when they would stray,

  But still my heart has wings

While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,

And low above my green-sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.


  And if my dreaming ne’er come true,

  The brightest and the best,

  But leave me lone my journey through,

  I‘ll set my heart at rest,

And thank God for home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,

And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

            Martha Haskell Clark


When I read the title of this poem I immediately thought of Grandma Jones. After all, she loved red geraniums and kept one on her porch in Broken Bow most summers. One of her geraniums ended up in my Dad’s office for several years where it often reminded me of her.

But then I read the poem and I knew that this one “belonged” to my Grandma Jones.

She didn’t have silken gowns, jewels, or great opportunities for travel. She once told me that there was so much that she hadn’t yet seen in the United States she couldn’t imagine why she would need to travel overseas. She did enjoy the few trips she was able to take, but travel wasn’t something she had the opportunity to do very much of.

However, out her window on the ranch she had green rolling hills. In her window sills she kept African Violets. And on her porch in front of her chair were her red geraniums.



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!


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.” (cornwallhistoricalsociety.org).

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. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/sarah-bird-northrup-ridge-11942.

Pate, James P. 2022. “Ridge, John.” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=RI003. Accessed February 4, 2022.

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

https://connecticuthistory.org/an-experiment-in-evangelization-cornwalls-foreign-mission-school/ 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: http://www.bettyjamersonreed.com  OR on Amazon.com—authors page and McFarland.



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.  http://www.nickysfamily.com/


“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.