What to do when your beloved grandchild pitches a fit and you are helpless as his parents cope? I asked this question to my friend Eileen, a 4-time grandmother. Here is her suggestion.


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Every week, the Jefferson County WV Health Department vaccinates hundreds and hundreds of people to protect them from succumbing to the covid virus. I am a volunteer at the Ranson Civic Center site. My job is to direct people to one of 9 stations to get their shot. I get to greet every person, all old like me, many of whom I know (I have lived in Jefferson County for almost 40 years ).


The event is more like a cocktail party than a health clinic. First of all, everyone is happy. One woman said getting the call to get her shot was like finding the Golden Ticket that provides entry to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Over and over people say they have never been so happy and so relieved to get a shot. If they are nervous, nurses stand ready to talk them through their concerns.


People are so appreciative of all the volunteers. Everyone is complimentary of how organized and efficient the clinic is. No one gripes. No one complains. It’s like they have already downed a few cocktails before they arrive.


What I find particularly heartwarming is the number of grown children who shepherd their aged parents through the process. Gently supporting their frail mother or father (or both), the adult children do their best to put their parents at ease. One son told his octogenarian father that since the clinic was in a sports center, they could shoot a few hoops afterwards.


Enduring the covid pandemic has not been easy and I admit to feeling pretty discouraged at times about the outcome. The vaccines have given me hope that life will once again return to normal. But what has renewed my faith in the future even more than the vaccine itself is the community support for getting the vaccine into people’s arms. Volunteers make the Jefferson County clinic a success. Our neighbors are calling people, signing people in, making up schedules, managing parking, supervising the waiting room, entering data and pushing wheelchairs of those in need. This groundswell of support and interest in the health and well-being of those in our community is so gratifying.


Like most of my peeps, I have been hunkered down for the past year with very few outside contacts. The covid vaccine clinic makes me remember what it’s like to interact with real people. It also reminds me that our community is made up of very caring men and women. Watching dozens and dozens of volunteers at work gives me just as much hope in the future as the vaccine itself.

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My recent donation to Jefferson County Relay for Life honors my friend Lael who died too soon from cancer.



I first met Lael when I reported for work at Montgomery County Parks and Planning in 1977. I was coming from a rural planning department in Monroe, Michigan and was dressed in my best “virgin polyester” blouse and skirt, sporting a plastic purse and wearing shoes from the local Shoes for Less.

And there was Lael, a beautiful, well-coiffed, blonde beauty, adorned in a classic outfit, wearing gorgeous jewelry and exuding confidence.


My reaction was immediate. NO WAY were we going to be friends…this Lael person was out of my league.


It did not take me long to discover that Lael was as warm and caring and fun as she was gorgeous and sophisticated.


Lael took me under her wing in 1977 and we went shopping together. First stop: a new purse. “What’s that smell?” I asked when we entered the accessories department at Woodward&Lothrop. “Leather,” Lael replied. I left with a Coach bag. Then we updated my wardrobe. I kept gravitating to navy blue (my growing up in Catholic school uniforms assured I would always gravitate to the Virgin Mary’s color palette) but Lael had bigger plans for me. At the end of the day, I no longer looked like a refugee from the Corn Belt.


We travelled together, most memorably to Argentina in 2005. Lael was so darn much fun. We roomed together for 10 days and laughed our way through Patagonia, Mendoza and Buenos Aires.


In sports, television announcers always refer to special athletes as “the complete package.” When it comes to life, Lael was the complete package. She was gorgeous, elegant, classy yet warm and caring.


Lael died in 2012 and I miss her every day. I can’t figure out why Lael is gone. The world needs more people like Lael. I am just going to have to trust in God that there is some cosmic reason why family and friends have to go on without her.


Maybe some angels need fashion advice.


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