The Monroe Street Bridge in Spokane is a regular part of my commute to and from The Spokesman-Review. It was supposed to be closed for two weeks for repairs and for infrastructure work necessary for the Kendall Yards development.
Then, last Thursday, the city of Spokane announced that the bridge would reopen three days early. It was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
Like when the doctor tells you it will be a week before you get test results and you get them in two days, or when the much-awaited package shows up overnight instead of the anticipated three days shipping or when you're waiting for a table at a busy restaurant and they tell you an hour and 30 minutes later, you're eating.
When good things happen ahead of schedule, everyone's happy. City government folks might have had this in mind when the bridge opened three days early.
Either way, it made a lot of commuters happy. But doubtful anyone thanked City Hall. Here's my thanks.
(S-R file photo)
“Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die: It happens again every single morning.” ― Anna Quindlen
Many of us will miss our fathers this weekend as families observe Father’s Day. But we did have our time: Dad sitting in the audience as we sang, recited, walked across the stage to receive a diploma or took his arm to walk down the aisle on our wedding day.
Many children will miss their fathers, but sadly fathers will miss their children – taken too soon by gun violence.
A national campaign startedby PICO National Network's Lifelines to Healing Campaign, urges citizens to send e-cards to Congress, urging them to pass legislation that would create universal background checks in an effort to end gun trafficking.
No father should have to bury a child. And no child should have to worry about his life ending because citizens acquire guns easily in our country – no matter who that citizen is or what their intentions or mental health may be.
May those with heavy hearts on Father’s Day find hope in the days ahead; hope that common sense and compassion dictate the acquisition of firearms.
(S-R archives photo: A U.S. flag flies at half-staff on Main Street in Newtown, Conn. on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in honor of those killed)
If you've never walked through the garden behind Providence Center for Faith and Healing on the Sacred Heart campus, treat youself this summer. Every Thursday, starting Thursday until Aug. 15, the garden will be the scene of summer noon-time concerts.
Across town, Holy Family Hospital will have three Tuesday noon concerts this summer.
Steven King, U.S. national giutar champion, will play the first concert.
He told me: “I play songs from different eras from people’s lives because you can think about a place in your youth where you haven’t been in a while…I like to surprise them with songs they’d never expect in guitar – like ‘What’s New Pussycat’ or the ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Harry Potter’ themes.”
When he said “What's New Pussycat” — the Tom Jones 1965 classic — I was immediately transported to fifth-grade summer, dusting furniture (one of my summer chores) listening to the radio.
(S-R Jesse Tinsley photo)
I spent most of yesterday in a Red Cross CPR and first aid training class as part of my Spokesman-Review safety committee duties.
About 30 years ago, I took a CPR class and so much has changed.
I was surprised how hard you have to do the chest compressions. It's a good sign if you hear the ribs cracking, the instructor told us.
A panel on the mannequins lights up if you are exerting enough pressure, and I often wasn't. It was exhausting.
The instructor stressed to always have someone call 911, and in the class, I felt so grateful there is a 911. In an emergency, if no one else knew CPR, I hope I would have the courage to do CPR.
But I hope I never have to, thanks to 911.
If you play a musical instrument, even if you don't play as well as you think you can, pass this gift/skill onto your children.
Music embeds itself in our hearts and memories, and so if you teach your children, or grandchildren, how to play a musical instrument, your legacy lives on whenever they pick up the instrument. It's a deep, profound and long-lasting connection.
This week, all week, we celebrate Street Music, the brainchild of the S-R's own Doug Clark. All over downtown, from noon to 1, musicians will be playing on nearly every street corner. And in the Garland district, too.
Near the Olive Garden restaurant today, I passed by Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley and sons, playing music together, as shown in this photo. Wish you could hear them.
Beautiful, bold, a family legacy in the making.
The news that the U.S. government has been monitoring phone habits, especially through Verizon, gives me a laugh ( you gotta laugh some about this stuff) imagining government spies analyzing the phone records of me and my sisters.
We sometimes talk for two hours at a time (and we all live in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.) And we sometimes do three-and-four way calls. We talk about family plans, our mother, TV shows we love and hate, recipes, and memories from childhood, often with some disagreements about those memories.
I always clean while we talk. It's the easiest way top get chores done. One sister usually eats on the phone because she eats dinner later than the rest. One sister, I suspect, is looking at her computer or watching TV while we visit.
But two hour phone calls are not that unusual.
The government, seeing the length of these three-ways, might wonder what the Nappi sisters are up to. My husband sometimes calls us family terrorists, but we're benign.
Hey Uncle Sam, can you hear us now? We're debating whether you should ever put onions in spaghetti sauce.
My son graduates today…we will gather with friends and sit in the auditorium and cheer. He asks me if I will cry. Of course. But first, in the intimacy of our home, I will read these words, a look back, a blessing forward. With love, Mom…
We are here – graduation day – when we celebrate you: Alexander.
Somehow the years carried us to this moment: with you growing from an infant, to a toddler, then a child, now a young man. We have marched too quickly in this parade of life.
When you were three, I called you, “Son.” You smiled at me and asked, “Like sun-shine?” Yes, like sunshine…and still like sunshine through 19 years.
School may have taught you what you need for life, most likely not. The quizzes and papers and tests feel more like hurdles then bridges today. No matter, you never let school discourage your passion. Nice work! A+
May you take with you some life lessons learned along the way, lessons we discovered in our journey through your childhood.
Together, we discovered time is precious – so why waste it on chores when we could build forts, swim at the pool and read books? The weeds and dusting waited patiently while we played. Our days filled up with laughter and giggles and imaginative journeys to distant lands. We traveled together– through forts and Moon Horse rides into the night.
Sometimes, we had to travel through real-life sadness – losing Grandpa, Uncle Art and Sister Carolyn. You brought kindness on those trips, easing our way.
You taught me simple gestures of love transform us: when you were five, you insisted we take flowers to the hospital patients who were not discharged home for Christmas. You took carnations and put them in paper-cup vases; you brought joy to the bedside. I learned of your tremendous compassion for strangers.
In second grade, you asked if I ever stood up for justice like Martin Luther King, Jr or Rosa Parks; and did I ever meet Rosa Parks and what did I actually say to her? In that moment, I learned people are more important to you than theories and your heart understands suffering. You remain a wise soul seeking what is right in the world.
While the classroom often confined you, the stage has not. Cast as an iguana, a carriage driver, a dyno-bug, Amonasro – and many other characters – you delighted us and found self-confidence. While singing in Fame, Footloose and Phantom, you found your own voice at Creative Theatre Experience, Kids at Play and in the Catskills. Your courage to listen to your own spirit taught me to listen more closely to my own voice. I am grateful.
God has blessed you with gifts you will soon share with the world. Today I offer these gifts for you:
For your journey, may you take faith – for times of joy and confusion – knowing our God who created you, walks with you – always.
May you take hope – for all your dreams and adventures. You have taught us to see possibilities when discouraging voices whispered into our life. May your hopeful heart guide you to joy-filled destinations.
May you take love – many people loved you through these years - and left their love within your heart. May their love inspire and comfort you, may that love give you strength and delight.
No matter where your dreams lead you: to school, the stage, with new friends and places: our love follows - through eternity into forever.
Congratulations, Alex! Love, Mom
(S-R archives photo)
Yes, I know, it's weird that Costco even has its own magazine — the Costco Connection - and weirder that sometimes, the articles are good.
In the June issue, there's an interview with writer Temple Grandin, who has written eloquently about life along the autism spectrum.
She's 65 now and said this about aging:
“I used to be able to able to stand in a forklift truck loading dock at the feed yard and I could jump up on the ramp. Gosh, there is no way I could do that now. But one of the things that getting older does give you is wisdom and a perspective that you didn't have before because you've been to a lot of places and you've seen a lot of things. That's why, in a lot of societies, they look up to their elders. In elephant society, younger elephants look up to the matriarchs. Why? Because they know where to find the water from 50 years ago.”
(SR file photo)
Today's Boomer U article was about the prediction (and hope) that boomer age men and women will be in greater demand in the next few years as models and actors in TV commercials, as companies finally wake up to the fact that boomers have some money to spend, a lot more, in fact, than the 20-something folks advertisers are so hot after.
My thanks to models Trudy Raymond and Joyce Cameron, both stunning looking women, who often donate their time on the runway for nonprofit fashion shows.
And with this blog post, I make my pitch to all boomer-age people. If you are asked to “model” or be on TV for whatever reason, and you think you're not young or good looking enough, reconsider.
The more people in society see “real” aging, the better off we'll all be.
Give it a shot!
(Photo of Joyce Cameron courtesy of Eric Chamberlain)
The gigantic asteroid didn't hit Earth yesterday, nor was it expected to, but the sci-fi lover in me allowed my imagination to go far, far into another galaxy.
If the asteroid had hit, wiping out much of Earth, it would be an astonishing reset button for our planet which might need a rest from overcrowding, pollution, global warming.
Just a thought. And a reminder we all come and go, but Earth has survived. We should look to her for some survival lessons.
On May 23, I wrote a story about Miss Florence, aka Florence Petheram, who hosted Romper Room on Spokane television for 19 years.
She is 81 now and a children's book author. Today in the mail, she sent me a Mr. Do Bee postcard and a Romper Room ring.
It was instant “memory meld” — that's what I call when you see something from childhood and the memory is instant. You're back there, a 5-year-old, seeing the Mr. Do Bee poster in the Romper Room classroom.
I'm on a throw stuff out kick at home but I am sure grateful Miss Florence kept some of these invaluable mementos from days long ago.
Thanks for the memories, Miss Florence.
Yesterday, I attended the ground-breaking ceremony for Spokane's second Hospice House. See story.
The house will be completed a year from now and will allow 12 patients at a time to die in beautiful surroundings.
Barb Cox, Hospice of Spokane's first clinical director, read a wonderful poem credited to Native American Chief Tecumseh.
Here's an excerpt:
“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
(S-R photo by Jesse Tinsley, showing Willa Johns, a former Hospice of Spokane executive director and now a hospice patient, shoveling some ceremonial dirt. Barb Cox is pictured to her left)
The report “examined the effects of marriage, divorce, and bereavement on life satisfaction up to four years after the event. Unlike much previous research, (the) study followed a large representative sample of more than 16,000 people, assessing them yearly with questions about life events and overall life satisfaction.”
“Following loss, most people report a modest, short-lived increase in distress that subsides within a few month,” writes Anthony D. Mancini of Pace University, author of the briefing paper titled “The trouble with averages: the impact of major life events and acute stress may not be what you think.”
Some highlights from the fascinating report:
“The majority of grievers (59 percent) showed a remarkable degree of resilience, reporting stable levels of life satisfaction both before and after the loss. Contrary to the notion that older adults are especially vulnerable to loneliness and depression after bereavement, the members of the sample most likely to report stable levels of well-being were, in fact, the oldest.”
Divorce doesn't destroy your life forever.
“The pattern we would likely anticipate—a decline in life satisfaction following the divorce—was shown by just 19 percent of the participants. Almost 72 percent of the people whose marriages dissolved showed relatively high levels of life satisfaction before the divorce and experienced essentially no change after it. Perhaps most surprisingly, we found a small but significant proportion of people, almost 10 percent, who showed substantial increases in well-being afterwards. These findings provide a more balanced perspective on claims about the long-term negative effects of divorce, at least for adults.”
Post-traumatic stress is not inevitable for military folks.
“Contrary to the widespread assumption that PTSD is rife among returning military personnel, more than 80 percent of these soldiers displayed normal levels of functioning before and after deployment, and only about 7 percent showed substantially elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.”
Gifts between us extend beyond our death - take Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones who received a diary from Laura Mae Davis before he went off to World War II. He wrote about his life in combat and about his love for her. He wrote if he died in combat, she receive the diary back – with his words in it.
Jones was killed in battle and Davis did receive his diary, but not until decades later when the journal was on display in a museum and she went to see the exhibit. Read story.
War is mysterious in its reasons and in its details of combat. Jones wrote about his life at war, but often he wrote about his love for Laurie and the letters from her and his family, words he carried in his heart. Now - 70 years later – Laurie carries his words with her.
Words filled with love, words nothing – not even war – can destroy.
(Photo of Catherine Johnston's father, Don Johnston, in his United States Marine Corps days)
In my Boomer U story today, I looked at coming trends in boomer travel.
European river cruises are hot, as is taking trips with many generations in tow.
One boomer I interviewed for the story, Susan Snelson Spiegel, is an uber traveler and always has been. And she has combined travel with volunteering on many occasions.
What kind of travel will you do in your 50s, 60s and beyond?
I picture myself, in my 80s, on those bus tours seeing the United States in a new way.
Happy Memorial Day!
(Photo courtesy of Susan Snelson Spiegel)
This Memorial Day weekend, you might be remembering loved ones who died this year or in recent years — or a decade ago.
If you can't visit the deceased at a cemetery, here's a suggestion I adapted from Paula Davis, a funeral director at Heritage Funeral Home in Spokane.
She said some families, spread far and wide, can't or don't do memorial services. She always urges them to do something “that you call your last good-bye.”
One family agreed that at 3 p.m. one Friday, they would have a cup of tea and think of their father. Siblings in other time zones had the tea at the same time, though it was different on the clock, of course. So 6 p.m. in the East, for instance.
I love the idea and think it can be adapted by families in separate locations pausing to remember a loved one Memorial Day weekend, across the time zones.
Doesn't have to be tea, either. Coffee works. And stronger stuff.
Enjoy the weekend. And remember.
(S-R archive photo)
Police officers put their lives on the line each day for citizens and one another other – and often put their hearts on the line, too.When a Phoenix police officer was killed in the line of duty, three days later his friends lined up to show their love and support for his daughter as she graduated from kindergarten. See story.
Sometimes love means simply showing up, being present – and remembering.
When I was 4 and 5 years old, I was enthralled every weekday morning by Romper Room and the beautiful Miss Florence who would call out children's names through a magic mirror at the end of each show.
I begged my parents to let me go on, and somehow, I was accepted for the program. But the two-week gig would have required a parent to drive me every morning to KREM's studios on the South Hill in the winter in the days before snow tires were very good.
We were a one-car family in 1959-60 and my mom had six kids and my dad a busy law practice and so, the plan looked impossible.
I must have been inconsolable, because I remember that one morning, the phone rang, and it was Miss Florence on the line explaining that I couldn't be on the show this time, but maybe “when the snow melts all off of the ground.”
I never did make it on the show and didn't pursue the “snow melt” promise. But I remained a forever fan of Miss Florence for making that phone call.
I recently interviewed Florence Petheram for a story that ran in the newspaper today. She is still beautiful. And at 81, still amazing, living in Auburn to be near her four grown children. She's written two children's books, skydived for her 80th birthday, has a special man friend and for Mother's Day, she requested a hula hoop! She'll be in Spokane Saturday, reading from her book Magic is for When You Need It.
Thanks for the phone call long ago, Miss Florence, and for the memories!
(Photo courtesy of Florence Petheram)
On Morning Joe today, they showed over and over a very touching amateur video taken of parents frantically looking for their children after the Oklahoma tornado. And children looking for their parents.
No one knew — or cared — they were on video and so it was so real, unvarnished emotion. And so moving. Parents held onto their children for dear life.
Others searched the crowd outside school, looking, looking, looking, asking friends.
Tears and screams and one boy, lost among the adults, looking at adult faces, hoping to spot mom or dad.
Reality TV, with its staged tears and fake scenes of drama, has nothing on the real thing. This is life.
Wonderful and terrifying, all the time, really, not just in tragedy.
But a parent and child united, that's what blows everything away.
(S-R archive photo)
The Women Helping Women Fund luncheon was held today, an annual event that has grown to spectacular proportions, with 1,600 women and men contributing $125 each (and more) to help fund 20 community programs for women and children.
The speaker, Paralympic medal winner and author Bonnie St. John was terrific, the lunch menu an upscale BLT was creative and tasty and I sat with a table of remarkable women, including table chair Jamie Tobias Neely, writer and EWU teacher of journalism.
But I felt a tinge of sadness after I read the page with the names of the luncheon founders — Mari Clack, Marcy Drummond, Vicki McNeill, Shirley Rector, Janet Skaden and Vivian WInston. All but Mari and Marcy have died.
I wrote the first stories on this revolutionary early 1990s idea when it was unheard of for women to be asked to contribute $100 (the suggested donation in the early years.) Yet the founders didn't flinch at the asking. They knew the need was great. They asked and women opened their purses and wrote those checks.
Now these big-ask fundraisers go on all the time, though Women Helping Women luncheon is the biggest.
I thought of the day I interviewed the women about their vision, which began as a discussion in Vivian's living room. And now four of the six are dead. McNeill, former Spokane mayor, died first in 1997. The others died throughout the 2000s. Vivian made it to 97 years old.
“This is because of you” I thought silently, thanking Vicki, Shirley, Janet and Vivian, the women now gone. “Thanks for thinking so big. It worked.”
(S-R archive photo of Vivian Winston)