Archive for the ‘Short story’ Category

Clap Out

Last night Robin and I attended what I believe was our very first “Fifth Grade Graduation.” Our youngest granddaughter, Lily Grace, 11, has now “graduated” from her six years of elementary school (counting kindergarten) and is ready to move on to her middle school, high school, and college years. The principal noted that none of those other levels of schooling would be as long as the time the students had spent at Pearre Creek Elementary, so last night’s ceremony was truly “a big deal.”

Hundreds of siblings, parents, and grandparents poured into the gym, filling the bleachers and all the chairs on the floor, while many were left standing against the walls. Then the five classes of fifth graders marched in to be seated in the reserved rows in front of the stage.

Two high school seniors, former graduates of Pearre Creek, spoke to the group, sharing words of wisdom about how to be successful next year in middle school and beyond. After several other presentations, we watched each 5th grader proudly walk across the stage to get a certificate of promotion and a big hug from his or her teacher.

The thing I really loved, though, happened at the end of the program. All the parents and other visitors filed out and lined each side of the hallway from the gym to the front doors. Then, as the students ran down the hall, we clapped and cheered for all them. That “clap out” ceremony is a tradition at the school, and I’m sure the children will always remember that great send off.

However, last night’s “clap out” reminded me of another great “clap out.” This one took place on Thanksgiving Day, 2008. Our son Steve and his wife Tonya were the last ones off the plane arriving from Kazakhstan. As they walked down the ramp with their new baby daughter in their arms, our other granddaughters, Audrey, Emily, and Libbey, spotted them first.  They jumped up and down, shouting and waving their balloons high in the air. “Here they come! Here they come!” We all clapped and cheered and laughed and cried as we welcomed dear little Lily Grace into our lives.




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Holy Week Fire

The horrible fire in Paris this afternoon breaks my heart. Much of the stately Notre Dame Cathedral, built eight centuries ago, has been consumed in a matter of hours. But we should give thanks that, so far, only one firefighter has sustained serious injuries. Human life is still more precious than buildings and relics, no matter how unique, ancient, and revered.

When tragedies strike, this faith of ours is tested. Some call these catastrophic events “acts of God.” But I believe the true “acts of God” are those of God’s people reaching out to comfort and rally around and help our fellow human beings who are suffering.

During this Holy Week in Christendom, we are reminded once again that God’s love for all his children was demonstrated by Jesus on the Cross on Friday and on Easter Sunday when Jesus appeared again to his disciples.

I believe God’s love will still prevail even today in Paris.

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Today, Robin and I visited a Hindu temple in Nashville. Subadra and T. K. Subramanian live in a villa down the street from us here at The Fountains, and Subadra had arranged with our activities director to take a group of us on the bus to the Sri Ganesha Temple where she worships and volunteers.

Subadra is one of the most loving persons I have ever met. This gentle woman goes out of her way to help and care for others. When Robin and I first moved in, she came with a loaf of sweet bread to welcome us, and she gave us a list of local places we might like to know about.

Before our tour today, she gave each of us a printed Visitor’s Guide to the temple with a brief description of Hinduism:

“Hinduism believes in One Supreme Being who is infinite, all-pervasive and eternal, and the source of all creation. God is in everything that exists and is at the same time beyond the manifest universe. The various divine functions and aspects of the One Supreme Being are given different names and worshipped through different images.

“The goal of human life is to realize the divine essence within ourselves and to experience the oneness of all existence. This is considered to be synonymous with obtaining the vision of God. This may be achieved through various paths, such as renunciation, loving service to others, devotional worship, meditation, and psycho-physical exercises. All these paths overlap, and each person may choose the most suitable combination. Hindus believe that all religions are different paths towards the same goal of God-realization and that God incarnates upon earth from time to time to proclaim spiritual wisdom to humanity.”

Today, we entered the temple downstairs where we removed our shoes and placed them in the Shoe Room. Then we moved up into the main room (sanctuary?) where we saw ten beautifully decorated and ornate shrines around the sides of the large, carpeted room. Hindus believe the figure in each shrine is a “lesser god” who performs specific functions of the Supreme Being, like “executives in a large corporation.” Families, including young children, were worshipping at the various shrines today. However, Subadra led us around to each shrine and explained the focus of each one. I noticed fresh fruits were placed as offerings in many of the shrines. Gongs and bells were often rung.

Subadra then led us back downstairs where we put on our shoes and ate lunch in a side meeting room. She served a special vegetarian meal consisting of dishes she had prepared at home, using various grains and rice mixed together with vegetables and yogurt. We also had a salad and a cookie. She had been careful not to use too many spices today, she said.

It’s always interesting for me to learn about the ways people worship and practice their faith. There are many commonalities. Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest living religions, and Hindus are given the freedom to approach God in their own way, encouraging a multiplicity of paths, not asking for conformity to just one.

As a Christian, I’m thankful that God, the “Supreme Being,” loves every one of us and encourages all of us children to help each other and treat our sisters and brothers with loving kindness and respect.


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Soon after Robin and I moved to The Fountains of Franklin, I began to share some of my published memoir stories with the women in our Tuesday morning Sisterhood Fellowship. This prompted them to recall interesting incidents, too, and last fall, I talked with them about letting me capture their own stories in writing. They agreed that would be fun, so in September, I wrote our first memoir story, and now we’ve completed six.

Our procedure goes like this: First, I arrange a date for an interview. Then I go to the storyteller’s apartment, and we enjoy visiting as she shares her experience. It usually takes several visits for me to get all the details straight, but after I complete the story, she reviews it to make sure I have everything correct. Then we share it with the other women in our group, and she can also share it with her family.

Today, I’d like to share the latest memoir with all of you.

A Devastating Blow 

Born on January 15, 1922, Myrabel Bivin Theobald recently celebrated her 97th birthday, but she remembers a day from her childhood as clearly as she remembers her name. This traumatic event occurred when she was only five years old, and her little sister, Merida, was three.

During the 1920s, the Bivins lived in a small frame house on several acres in central Illinois. Myrabel’s parents did not farm any land, but they did raise a few chickens. A railroad track ran near the back of their property, and the two little girls loved to watch the trains go by.

Myrabel’s father operated the local grain elevator. Late one morning, he hurried home and burst into the house. “There’s a big storm coming down the track! Dust and dirt are flying everywhere. Quick! Get into the center of the house.”

Myrabel’s parents grabbed the girls, and the four stood with backs pressed against a wall, tightly gripping each other’s hands. A mighty wind roared through their house, and all around them, walls collapsed and the ceiling exploded. A moment later, they were standing in the midst of complete devastation.

Everything was gone!” Myrabel said. “I looked around and Mother and Daddy and I were there, but where was Merida? My frantic parents dashed out through the debris, crying and calling her name.”

Myrabel’s mother found little Merida not far from their house, stunned but unharmed. “She only had a small cut on one finger,” Myrabel said with a smile

I asked her if she or her parents were hurt. “We had a few cuts. I still have a small scar on my forehead. But none of us were severely injured. The neighbors up the road came right away to check on us—our house was the only one in the area that was hit. I learned that all our little baby chickens were blown away, too, but I guess I was just too bewildered to cry. The tornado traveled down the tracks, destroyed the grain elevator, and hit some other houses in a nearby town.”

Myrabel doesn’t remember what the family did that night, but she believes they may have stayed at their neighbor’s. Soon, they moved into a small rental house.

“With the grain elevator gone, my father no longer had a job, so our family lost our income as well as our house and all our belongings,” she said. “My mother suffered a nervous breakdown soon after that, and she had to spend about a month in a hospital. Those were really hard times for all of us, but friends helped us all they could. Eventually, Daddy was able to get an old truck with a tank on it, and he ground up fodder and drove around and sold it to farmers in the area.”

I shook my head in amazement. “How does a family ever overcome such a devastating blow?” I asked.

“Well, the Great Depression was beginning then, too, but I believe God was good to us,” she said. “All four of us survived the tornado, and I’m thankful my parents were able to care for Merida and me during all our growing up years. We never went hungry. In 1940, I graduated from high school and married my high school sweetheart a year later. Ray and I had three children, and he lived until he was 88 years old. Now I have seven grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren. And I’m glad to be here at The Fountains.”

“I’m glad you’re here too,” I said, “and I’m really glad you could share your experience with me. You have a great story, dear one, a story we will not soon forget.”

Madelyn F. Young



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Moving into My Eighties

Tomorrow, Dec. 20, I will have been on this earth for 80 years. That seems like such a long time—until I look around me here at The Fountains. Most folks here are already past this milestone, and some are even into their nineties now. Today, in exercise class, one of our residents, who is 96 now, was still able to stand on one leg, kick out her other foot to the front, to the side, and to the back—ten times! She’s my role model. : )

It’s interesting how different parts of our bodies age at different rates. Some of us lose our hearing, some our eyesight. Some lose our flexibility, some our mobility, some our memory. But I’ve noticed that whatever parts are still functioning well can often make up for the rest. One’s attitude plays a big role in how we handle aging. And when others cheer us on, that helps too.

Today, I’ll pass along a little joke I heard recently.

Two women met for the first time since graduating from high school. One asked the other, “You were always so organized in school. Did you manage to live a well planned life?”

“Oh, yes,” said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second was to an actor: my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.”

Her friend frowned. “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life?

“One for the money,

Two for the show.

Three to get ready,

And four to go.”

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday and a new year full of many blessings!

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our new location at The Fountains of Franklin for one full year now. Exactly 365 days ago on October 20, 2017, we arrived in Franklin Friday evening, checked into our motel room, and headed over to Steve and Tonya’s house to meet all our kids for a “Welcome to Franklin” supper. The next day, we met our movers at our new villa and began our new life. So what’s happened to us this year? Have we adjusted to our new environment?

I’m happy to tell you yes, we’ve adjusted. Of course, making the transition has had its ups and downs, but this has also been a great year of discovery and adaptation.

We’ve enjoyed meeting new friends here at The Fountains, going to new places, and learning to navigate our way around this busy town. Thankfully, we haven’t had to do this all on our own. Our children have pitched in to drive us to doctors’ offices for procedures when we’ve needed another driver to get us home safely, or they’ve driven us to new restaurants we haven’t been to before. And we’ve traveled on the Fountains’ bus with other residents to interesting events. Last Wednesday, a beautiful October day, we went to Arrington Vineyards for a picnic lunch out in the country. That was fun! The week before, I traveled with other residents on the bus to Nashville to the dress rehearsal of the Nashville Symphony at their downtown auditorium. I loved that!

Also, it’s been good to learn we’re not quite as stuck in our ways as we thought we were. : ) For example, the home we built in Hot Springs Village had “his” and “her” bathrooms and “his” and “her” closets. Here, we share a master bath and a large master closet, and we still get along just fine. : ) In the Village, Robin enjoyed playing golf at his choice of seven different courses. Here, he plays mostly at one course called The Crossing, although on Thursday this week, he and a friend played at Spencer’s Creek for the first time. He hasn’t played as much golf as he might, due to rainy weather, but he still enjoys getting out on the courses when he can.

We’re getting older, but we’ve discovered we’re still quite youthful among our peers. Although Robin continues to deal with memory loss, he’s still able to drive himself to the golf course or to the fitness center, and he still performs all his daily activities with no problem. Together, we still handle all our shopping, house cleaning, laundry, cooking, and entertaining. Last summer, our neighbor in the villas lost his wife, and he’s a bit more infirm than we are. Robin brings him his newspaper and mail and visits with him a few minutes every day. We also do his grocery shopping for him. Recently, I’ve begun a new writing project. Many new friends in assisted living have had such interesting life experiences, and I’m writing their stories in short memoir pieces for them to share with their families.

It’s great to live closer to our children and grandchildren now too. They all lead busy lives, but we do manage to see each other quite often, and life is good! They appreciate that we are nearby, and we’re happy we made the move.

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Have you been following the saga regarding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice? I’m fascinated with how differently the Republicans and Democrats on the Senate committee have interpreted the testimonies of Dr. Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Now I wonder, will each side be content with what the FBI may uncover or not uncover this week? Will the three Republican senators who still have doubts be ready to make a decision when his name comes before the full Senate?

Full disclosure. Right now, I believe Christine Ford is the more credible of the two. Her story, her “truth,” is that at fifteen, she was assaulted by young Brett Kavanaugh. He vehemently denies that, but I believe he did not tell us the complete truth about his teenage behavior. Perhaps his being drunk that evening has blurred his memory so that now he truly believes he never attacked her. I doubt his friend, Mark Judge, will remember that incident, either. However, I believe they were both acting rough and tough that evening, having fun at her expense. She was brave to reveal her story, knowing there were other details she didn’t remember.

According to Dr. Ford’s testimony, the assault traumatized her severely and affected her life in profound ways for many years. Because of that, I believe she distinctly remembers who it was who was on top of her, who it was who was fumbling with her clothes, who it was who placed his hand over her mouth to silence her screaming, and who was laughing with his buddy. Later, she told her husband and therapist that the attacker was Brett Kavanaugh, and this was long before his name was presented as President Trump’s nominee.

I do hope the FBI will investigate all aspects of Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimonies. I’m eager to learn what they will find.

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