Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Piecing Together the Fragments of Our Lives

My maternal grandmother made quilts. Often they were created from scraps of fabric left over from other sewing projects. I can remember my mother saving remnants from dresses she made for me and taking them to Grandma. 

As a child I would lie on my back under one of grandma’s quilts in the early morning as the sun would shine through the window. I would put my feet and arms up in the air, stretching the cover over me as a sort of tent. I could see all the colorful patterns on the walls of my makeshift dwelling. Sometimes I pretended I was in a cave where my ancestors, the Cherokee Indians had painted colorful markings on the cave walls.

At some point, each time we visited my grandparents, Grandma would take me and my mother to one of the bedrooms and one by one show us the quilts she’d made since our last visit. I would trace the patterns on the quilt tops naming the fabric I recognized. “That was my Easter dress!” I would say. Or, “I remember that red material! Mommy made that dress for me when I was in kindergarten!”

Those quilts seem to chronicle my childhood. 

I first used the illustration of Grandma’s quilts in Libby’s Cuppa Joe. Here’s the excerpt:

[Sonja] climbed into the bed of her youth and pulled the quilt up around her. Grandma Grace made the quilt for her tenth birthday. Sonja traced the pieces of triangle shaped fabric making up the colorful star patterns on the quilt with her finger. A few were cut out of remnants of material from dresses Grandma Grace had sewn for Sonja. Others were fragments of old play clothes and school clothes. Rags, really. Each star was sewn into a square and each square was blocked with the same material Annette used to make the pink flowered curtains in Sonja’s room. 
As an adolescent, Sonja appreciated how the quilt matched the curtains. She took delight in pointing out to friends spending the night, the print that had been a favorite blouse or the blue flowered material that had once been an Easter dress. Now, though, as she lay in the soft light of her bedside lamp, Sonja studied the quilt more closely. It was beautiful. Prettier than any single piece of fabric that had gone into its making. 
In the still night, Sonja lay in her bed weeping. This was what Kevin had shared with her. This was the message her parents had spoken of. This was what her grandmother wanted her to know. “God can take the torn and fragmented pieces of my life and create something new.” 
“Now what, God?” Sonja whispered into the night. “Without you I am a spent, worn out rag. With you I am a beautiful and useful quilt. That’s what I want, Lord. No more doubt. I want to give myself over to you completely and have you make me into what you want me to be.”

I don’t quilt. It is an art I never practiced or perhaps never acquired. I appreciate the few quilts I own that my dear grandmother stitched together for me. I know my children and grandchildren will never fully understand the quilts and treasure them as I do. 

I wish I could leave each member of my family a hand-sewn quilt: A remnant of our heritage. Then again, I can’t help but wonder if maybe I am leaving my own family a different sort of treasure. I take words and fragments of experiences to piece together stories and publish books. 

Perhaps one day my daughters will snuggle under quilts sewn by their great-grandmother and read one of my stories to their own grandbabies. They may recognize bits and pieces of our life experiences in the stories I craft. 

It’s possible. 

Perhaps they will trace the fragments of fabric in the quilt with their fingers as Sonja did and wonder if maybe this piece or that was a dress or a shirt once worn by someone from their past. 

Then again, they may simply appreciate the comfort of the moment… realizing quilts warm the body just as stories warm the heart. 

Might I just say, it makes a great Christmas gift...(Okay...done with the self promo...Go and Enjoy Your Day.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Seaside Woods

Several weeks ago I invited readers to enter a writing contest based on the names of Yankee candles. Today I'm pleased to announce the winner, Ellen Burton of Ohio! Congratulations to Ellen and thank you to all entrants and judges! In addition to a $10 Amazon gift card, Ellen's story is featured below. Enjoy!

Seaside Woods 
by Ellen Burton

Erica stood on the pier breathing deeply. She closed her eyes, imagining the cleansing ocean air filling every space in her body. The sun would be up soon. Erica watched as an older couple made their way up the sandy beach. Few people were out this morning. You could always tell when the school year started. The beach was calm and quiet. Young families were nowhere to be seen. 

Erica sighed. If Rob hadn’t left her totally out of the blue six years ago, they might be one of those young families. And then one day they would have been that older couple, simply enjoying each other. Past the hustle and never in a rush.  Instead, here she was, standing on a pier that jutted out into the Atlantic Ocean all by herself.

Stop it. The voice inside her, the one that definitely saved her more than once, told her to stop feeling sorry for herself and enjoy the moment. “Never again,” she told the inner Erica. “I am a strong woman!” she shouted.

“Here me roar!”

Erica jumped and looked around. She saw no one. 

“Down here!” the male voice called.

Erica peeked over the railing. A man, maybe in his mid to late thirties was looking up, grinning. Erica laughed. “I didn’t think anyone was around.”

“Sorry if I startled you.”

The tide was slowly creeping in. The man waved his goodbye and Erica turned back toward the sunrise. A glimmer of orange was making its way above a gray cloud near the water.

This happens every day. The sun goes down and the sun comes up. Even in my darkest times, the sun is doing its thing.

The clomping of feet on the wide wood boards of the pier shook Erica out of her moment of reflection. 

“Still roaring?”

Erica turned to see the man from the beach walking toward her. A touch of gray, but definitely in his thirties.Why was she even noticing? Stop it.

“Just enjoying the sunrise,” she answered.

“I get it. I try to jog nearly every morning I can so I can see the sun coming up over the ocean. You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Do I look that much like a tourist?”

The man chuckled. “No, it’s just that I know nearly everyone on the island and of course most of the tourists are gone for the season. I’m Andy.” He stuck out his hand.

“Erica Tanner. I usually come a bit earlier in the season, but this year…well, my schedule didn’t work out.”

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Erica. See you!” Andy started to leave.

“So you live here?”

“All my life. My place is over there.” The man pointed toward the seaside woods to the south of the pier. “Through the trees.”

“I thought that was all swamp.”

“Nope. In fact there’s a trail a lot of people hike through there. You should try it sometime.”

His face was kind and he looked safe, but Erica had learned to be wary of strange men –especially the good-looking ones. 

“I’ll mention it to Carson.”


“Yeah, he’s sleeping in.” No need to tell this stranger that Carson was her cat.

“Oh. Well, if you two decide to take the hike, there’s a great hamburger joint near the end of the trail. Best on the island. Tell them I sent you.”

“Thanks. Will do.” Erica watched as the tall, muscular man strode back down the pier. I wonder what a man like that could do here for a living? The question lingered as she made her way back to the cottage she rented through Airbnb. Carson greeted her at the door.

“The only business on the island is tourist trade and even that is iffy,” she told her cat as he wove himself in and out between her legs. Erica opened his tin of food and dumped the contents into his small dish. While Carson ate, Erica fixed herself a bagel with cream cheese and a glass of lemonade.

Andy was on the beach the next morning and the one that followed. He waved but didn’t stop to talk. Erica found herself wishing he would. A cat can only provide so much company.

Three solid weeks at the beach sounded blissful when she booked the cottage during the height of the Jamison-Benton merger. The extra week Rudy Jamison promised her for seeing the details through would make this her longest stretch at her favorite seaside island. 

“September will be perfect weather,” her friends told her.
“A well deserved rest,” her coworkers said.

No one mentioned the beach would be deserted. No pick-up volleyball games. No fire pits with everyone pitching in food for a spontaneous party. No people. Nothing.

“Even most of the restaurants are closed,” Erica told Carson one night. “There is the one Andy mentioned. That might be worth a try.” 

Erica was not about to head into the dark woods on a trail she didn’t know to find the place. “Maybe in the daytime.”

The sun had already set as Erica started to make dinner. She had just turned on the stove when the electricity crashed. Erica looked out the window. Other lights were on in other homes down the road She pulled her phone out and opened the Airbnb app to report the problem. 

A half hour later a car pulled in her drive. Andy! So that’s what he does. He’s a maintenance man. She listened as he made clanging noises outside and grumbled under his breath. 

“Ah, it’s you,” he said when he finally came to the door. “It’s the generator. I can’t seem to fix it. I’ll have to call someone.”

Just then the cat dodged between the two and dashed out the door. “Carson!” Erica called as she raced after the cat. 

Andy was the first to reach the escapee. “So Carson’s a cat,” he said. “Interesting.” He stroked the cat’s fur as he handed Carson back to Erica. “Do you have any appliances on?”


“The stove, an iron, anything that could cause a fire with a power surge when we get this fixed.”

“The stove. I was getting ready to make something to eat. I’ll turn it off.”

 “I called a guy, “ he called after her. “Jeff can fix anything,” he added as Erica returned to the porch. “He’ll be here shortly. I’ll be back.”

Erica sat down on the front porch of the cottage, Carson in her lap and the flashlight from her cell phone offering the only light she had. A few minutes later, Andy’s car pulled back in the drive. He emerged with a bag under each arm. 

“Dinner!” he said.  He set the bag of food down and sat down beside Erica. “I didn’t forget Carson, either. Carson, you have no idea how happy I am to meet you.” 

Erica stared at the meal spread before her and the tuna for Carson. “This looks great.”
Andy pulled a candle from the second bag and lit it. “It could take a while for Jeff to get here.”

“Should I try to ping the owner again?”

 “Won’t do you any good. I’m already here.”

Meet Ellen Burton:
Ellen is a wife and mother of two. She loves to read and her favorite author is Nicholas Sparks. She dreams of one day having enough time to sit down and actually write a novel or at least a novella.

Also, It Is Never Too Late to Give to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship Fund for Ergonomics Research! Perfect for Your End-of-Year Giving to Reap Tax Benefits....Okay, Truth? I Want It to Grow. If It Helps You...Great!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Writing YA Mysteries with JPC Allen

I'm excited to have my friend and fellow author, JPC Allen as my guest on today's blog. Enjoy!

Writing YA Mysteries
by JPC Allen

I’ve loved mysteries since I first sat down in front of the TV on Saturday mornings to watch Scooby Doo. In the past two years, I’ve had two crime short stories published in anthologies from Mt. Zion Ridge Press. I could have written my short stories from any point of view, but I felt most comfortable writing from the POV of a teen. In the process of writing “Debt to Pay”, a country noir, and “A Rose from the Ashes,” a Christmas mystery, I learned some important lessons about writing mysteries for teens. 
Meet Author JPC Allen

Teens make great amateur detectives.
Stories with amateur detectives have always attracted me because they are the ultimate underdog in mysteries. And I love underdog stories. Who could be more of an underdog than a teen, especially one who isn’t even a legal adult yet. Without the aid of official standing, fellow officers, or a crime lab, the amateur detective tries to solve a mystery relying soley on her intellect and abilities. 

To make the amateur detective more believable as a character, I need to give her some qualities that she can apply to crime solving. She can have an insatiable curiosity or just plain nosiness. Maybe she can’t stand seeing someone bullied or has a deep desire for justice. If the mystery involves other teens, then the teen detective has an edge over the police because she can investigate in ways they can’t.

In “A Rose from the Ashes,” my teen detective, nineteen-year-old Rae Riley, shows great determination and courage as she tries to fulfill her late mother’s dying wish. She thinks if she uncovers who tried to murder her pregnant mother twenty years before, she may also discover the father she’s never met.

The investigation is about more than the investigation.
The teen detective’s pursuit of the mystery should mean more than just finding the answer. In the real world, the teen years are a time of change and discovery. Uniting those themes with a mystery makes for a richer story. The investigation can be a sign that he’s ready for more independence or responsibility. Or maybe he’s a loner, who learns to rely on friends. Many of these themes can be applied to mysteries with adult characters, but I find them more meaningful when used within a YA mystery. 
In my story, Rae is desperate for a family since her mom died. She’s willing to take on a would-be killer if it leads to her father.
The teen detective must be active in the solution.
After following the teen detective through her investigation, I can’t have the police or some other adult solve it for her. Or, even worse, have the police rescue her from the criminal. Having the teen detective blunder so badly that she must be bailed out will only irritate readers.
That doesn’t mean the detective can’t make mistakes. The teen detective has to remain human. Only Sherlock Holmes can get away with perfect deductions. She doesn’t have to figure out every part of the mystery. She can unmask the criminal but maybe not understand all his motivations until after he’s arrested and questioned by the police. Or the criminal isn’t who she suspected, and when he comes after her, she captures him. But the teen detective must be essential to solving the mystery and never just a helpless bystander.
What are some of your favorite mysteries? I’d love to get some recommendations!
I’m holding a book giveaway on my site! Click here for details.

JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her blogFacebookInstagram, or Goodreads.

Book Blurb
Christmas fiction off the beaten path

Not your Granny’s Christmas stories …

Step off the beaten path and enjoy six stories that look beyond the expected, the traditional, the tried-and-true.

Inspired by the song, “Mary Did You Know?” – a mother’s memories of events leading up to and following that one holy night. MARY DID YOU KNOW? By Patricia Meredith

A young woman seeking her own identity searches for the man who tried to kill her and her mother on Christmas Eve twenty years before. A ROSE FROM THE ASHES. By JPC Allen

Princess, tower, sorceress, dragon, brave knight, clever peasant – combine these ingredients into a Christmas-time story that isn’t quite what you’d expect. RETURN TO CALLIDORA. By Laurie Lucking

Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family. NOT THIS YEAR. By Sandra Merville Hart

Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life – and the echoes from that day continued to the present. THOSE WHO STAYED. By Ronnell Kay Gibson

A community of refugees, a brutal winter, a doorway to another world – a touch of magic creating holiday joy for others leads to a Christmas wish fulfilled. CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS. By Michelle L. Levigne

AmazonBarnes and Noble, 24SymbolsKobo  

And Remember...It is Never Too Late to Give to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship Fund for Ergonomics Research! Perfect for Your End-of-Year Giving to Reap Tax Benefits....Okay, Truth? I Want It to Grow. If It Helps You...Great!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

ME. The Poster Child For What NOT To Do

If you are a regular reader, you’ve noticed the focus of my blog this month has been on my late husband Tom. He died on October 29, 2014.  Five years. Unreal. So please bear with me for one more story. It is as much mine as it is his.

I come from a long line of farmers. As a child, I lived on a farm and now I am blessed to live in a house built on a piece of my grandparent’s farm. Tom grew up in Florida. His family raised a few animals but farming wasn’t ingrained in them as it was in my family. 

When Tom started working for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), his research focus was on preventing musculoskeletal disorders. His inquiries eventually led him to the area of farm safety. He was particularly interested in safety for children and adolescents working in agriculture.

I was pretty excited. Finally, Tom was speaking my vocabulary. I even forked over the money to attend a farm safety conference with him. I learned quite a bit at the conference. 

Mostly, I learned that I could have been the poster child for what not to do

Seriously. I remember helping my dad by “driving” the truck while the men threw bales of hay onto the flatbed of the vehicle. I actually only guided it. Dad had the truck idling fast so it would creep down the field. My job was to peer through the steering wheel and when I saw the trees coming, to pull up with all my strength and throw both feet down on the brake. Dad would then get inside and turn the truck around for me and we’d head back the other direction. I was eight-years-old.

When I was nine, I helped my dad remove fence posts. By then I could actually drive the tractor. I’d back it up to where Dad could put a chain around the post. He’d stand by and wiggle the post and I’d slowly ease out until the post came free. I learned at the conference we could have both been killed.

I thought nothing of running the beams in our three story barn, climbing into the nearly empty silo during a game of hide-and-seek, or sliding down a mountain of corn in the corncrib on a piece of cardboard.

At the conference I learned I was lucky to be alive. I thought nothing of doing those things as a child. To me, the farm was a big playground. But now I was a mother…and a researcher. The statistics on children injured or killed on farms was frightening. One loss was one too many. 

Tom was interested in how children often stress their musculoskeletal frames through lifting, twisting, and such as part o their “chores.” Farming, you see, is for many states, their most hazardous occupation. And children are a big part of it.

I was convinced. Following the conference, I crafted three children’s books centered on safety. One was about tractor safety, one on lifting, and the other on slips, trips, and falls. This was before I retired and decided to become a writer. I wrote these books and shared with my first grade students. A few of them were farm kids.

I’ve considered trying to publish those books to raise money for Tom’s scholarship fund. I need to learn a lot more about publishing children’s books to make that happen. It’s a thought.

Until I hit on that magic formula, I’ve put out a plea to my readers to give to the scholarship fund created to honor Tom and the work he did. The campaign to raise $15,000 is over in October even though your tax deductible gifts can continue to be received for years to come.Thank you to all who have given to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research. 

The online gifts reached over $5000.00 while the mail-in gifts exceeded that. I don’t have the final tally, but I trust the fund will reach the endowed status before the end of the year. Now my hope is that it will be a strong scholarship. One worth each applicant’s time to pursue. 

If you still want to give, CLICK HERE and it will take you to the page. 
If you prefer to mail in your gift, CLICK HERE to download a form to guide you.

Again…Thank You… And Stay Safe.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lifting, Handling, and Road ID

October. Autumn is finally here. Colorful leaves and cooler temperatures have arrived. Friday night high school football and Saturday college games define the season.

If you follow my blog, you know it is also National Ergonomics Month. Ergonomists look at how people interface with their work environment. They look for ways to improve work places so that people can perform their work safely and efficiently. 

For me it’s personal. “Tom Waters” and “Ergonomist” are virtually synonyms. My late husband, Tom, was passionate about his work. He made it interesting. Good thing. Our three little girls grew up learning a bit about the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation around the dinner table. 

It’s not that he monopolized the conversation. He was equally interested in everything that went on in my day as well as that of the girls. It’s just that ergonomics was his bailiwick. Of particular interest to him was workplace lifting. Moving boxes, handling construction materials, or lifting patients…it didn’t matter, he cared for people in all job situations.

Though Tom had retired, he was often consulted about research issues in his area of expertise. He continued to review papers and offer advice to other researchers. I decided ergonomics was just part of his DNA.

We were nearing our second full year of retirement when on October 29, 2014, Tom left the house for his daily bicycle ride. It was a beautiful, sunny day. He hadn’t been gone long when my phone rang. 

The voice on the other end told me the front tire of Tom’s bicycle had slipped off the pavement and he had been thrown into a tree. The paramedics were on their way. So was I.

The "ID" Bracelet Tom Received as a Graduation Gift Had Long Gone By the Wayside. It was Replaced with A Road IDGo to
The man said he recognized Tom’s Road ID bracelet on his arm. It’s how he found my phone number. The Road ID was a gift from our youngest daughter and her husband. It had emergency contacts and medical info on it. 

I arrived on the scene just as the paramedics were assessing him. Though he was having a hard time breathing, there were few visible physical injuries; a few scratches on his left forearm. He had been wearing a helmet so his head was protected.

I watched helplessly as Tom told the paramedics, “Can’t breathe.” They told him they were going to lift him up and see if that helped. He nodded. Like them, I assumed the wind had been knocked out of him.  As soon as they lifted him, he passed out. I watched as they loaded him onto a gurney. 

He opened his eyes and looked at me. The unspoken message was one I didn’t want to hear. I smiled and assured him he was going to be okay. “They’re going to get you to the hospital,” I told him. “You’ll see. You’re going to be fine.”

What is curious to me, even now, is that as the paramedics were loading the gurney into the back of the life squad, I was watching how they lifted him. I noted the uneven ground and the awkward stance one of them had to use because of the landform, the road, and the tree. 

I watched very carefully because I was sure Tom would ask me about it. “Safe Patient Handling” was one of his areas of interest. I knew that once he was well enough, he would consider how the equipment or task could be modified to protect the paramedics.

I was certain he would ask. But he didn’t.

Two hours after I received the call, my husband of forty-three years was gone… from this world. The internal injuries were extensive and the blood loss was simply too great. He died of cardiac arrest. 

Before he started wearing the Road ID, Tom carried a card in a pouch that hung from his neck, tucked under his shirt. The medical team didn’t find that pouch until they cut his shirt off of him at the hospital.

You see, if it hadn’t been for that Road ID bracelet, I may not have been called in time to see him alive. Someone on the Road ID website wrote of a similar accident. He couldn’t respond, but when he heard someone calling his wife after finding her number on his Road ID, he was able to relax and let the paramedics do what they needed to do. I know I was able to bring comfort to Tom. That brings comfort to me.

I have two calls to action for my readers. You can see I’ve put Road ID in bold print everywhere in this post. Everywhere it is mentioned, I’ve hyperlinked their website to their name. Simply click. Everyone in my family has a Road ID bracelet. Everyone in your family should have one, too. Think Christmas gifts.

One day, a researcher trained under that scholarship will address safe patient handling for paramedics. I’m keeping my notes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Feet Under Our Table

Last week I shared a bit about my husband Tom and how losing him has impacted me. In a couple of weeks it will have been five years. 

Tom was a good man. He cared about others. Always. 

When Tom was seventeen years old, he pulled a man from the deep water of the lake where he lived in Florida and breathed new life back into him. 

The night he asked me to marry him, we drove from my house to tell his parents.  Someone was stranded on a country road. Tom stopped to help.

He was always like that. Always looking out for other people. Always caring. It was something that made me love him all the more.

But he had this one thing. 

It was not unusual 
for Tom to invite people
over for dinner.
It was not unusual for Tom to come home from work and tell me about someone who was visiting his branch of NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).

“He’s in the city for a few days and alone,” he’d say. “So I invited him over for dinner tonight. I hope it’s okay.”And it was.

 “They’re in town for a training session and don’t know anyone,” he’d tell me. “So I invited them over for dinner tomorrow night. I hope it’s okay.”And it was.

“He and his family just moved here from Taiwan, [Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, China, or some other part of the world] and they don’t know anyone, so I invited them over for dinner tomorrow night. I hope it’s okay.” It was. Of course he frequently followed up with “I don’t know if they speak English or not.” It was still okay. 

Tom cared about people. He always looked out for their wellbeing. As a result, people from all over the United States and from all over the world have put their feet under our table. From the head of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) all the way down to college students studying engineering and everyone in between. Tom was always bringing people to our house for a home cooked meal and an evening of conversation.

It wasn’t only at work. If Tom sensed someone was alone or broken, he reached out.  Tom cared about others, but never to the exclusion of his family. He was well loved because he loved well.

Tom died on October 29, 2014. It was a Wednesday. We held his services the following week to allow travel time for our family and friends from out of town. The night of his visitation a thousand people filed past Tom’s casket and greeted me, then Tom’s brothers, and then our three daughters on the other side. They offered words of comfort, hugs, and expressions of the sorrow they felt for this loss. 

Two of those coming through the line stand out to me even today.

The first was a homeless man we had befriended through church. Warren had cleaned up nicely and found his way to the church building. He had long gray hair and wore a rather ill fitting sports coat he had borrowed for the occasion. He was short so the sleeves were a bit too long.

Yes, That Little Guy is Tom
With His Two Older Brothers
As Warren walked through the line, I introduced him to Tom’s two older brothers standing beside me. Warren thrust out his hand and shook their hands heartily. 

“You’re brother was a good man,” he told them with tears in his eyes. “He always treated everybody the same. He was always good to me. He was a friend.”

A few more people passed through before Bill Marras, a fellow researcher in Tom’s field, approached. Bill is tall in stature and clean cut. He, too, has long gray hair. His coat fit. Bill had waited for nearly four hours to reach us and when I introduced him to Tom’s brothers his words were nearly the same. 

Bill shook hands with Ron and Rick and said, “You’re brother was a good man. He always treated everybody the same. We worked together, but more than that, he was a friend.”

When we returned to the house that evening, my brothers-in-law asked me about the two men. All I could tell them is that both men were right. Tom was a good man. And the fact that a homeless man and a renowned researcher stated the same things about him demonstrated that Tom did indeed treat everybody the same.

I’ve been working to memorize the twelfth chapter of the book of Romans. It is a description of how we are to live our lives. Phrases from the chapter pop out at me. Words like “share with God’s people who are in need,” or “practice hospitality,” and “be willing to associate with people of low position.” There’s more there. Much more that describes the man I married. 

I married a good man.

Last week I shared that the CDC Foundation has a scholarship in Tom’s name. The Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research. We are working hard to raise the monies to make that an endowed scholarship that lives on. It is not too late to donate. So, yes, I’m asking. I’ve provided links below. The first allows for online giving and the second is if you want to mail a contribution in to the foundation. 

Since October is National Ergonomics Month, the deadline for this campaign has been extended to the end of the month. Monies can always be donated but up to $15,000.00 received this month will be matched dollar for dollar. 

All I can offer is “Thank you.” So I thank you ahead of time for your generosity.

CLICK FOR A FORM TO DONATE BY MAIL (or simply use the address on the form and write "Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship" in the memo line on your check)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Five Years

Downhill, cross country,
and snowshoeing in Tahoe.
We did everything together.
October 29thwill mark the fifth anniversary of Tom’s very sudden death. Five years. No wonder I’ve been in a funk for the past few weeks. I never expected to outlive my husband by…well…any amount of time. I guess I never considered we wouldn’t “go” together. We did everything else together.

Five years. And when I say, “funk”, that’s what I’m calling the emotional exhaustion I experienced. Not depression. I checked it out with my favorite go-to doctor, Dr. Google. 

You see, for a few weeks I had low energy levels, no motivation to write, sleepless nights followed by naps during the day, crying at the drop of a hat and the big one…forgetfulness. I’m not talking about forgetting to eat or forgetting to check the mail. I do that stuff all the time because I get busy. Engaged in my writing and such. 

No. This was bigger. I forgot to pick up my grandson for his golf match. Three times. He’d call and I’d jump in the car, race to get him, and each day manage to drive him to the course before his tee time. I’m sure he was flustered by not getting there early. I was devastated. 

He was forgiving. I cried.

Late one night…or maybe it was in the wee hours of the morning…I consulted Dr. Google. If I was going through some kind of depression or mental illness I wanted to confront it head on. I listed my symptoms and the good doctor took me to several pages. 

I decided I was emotionally exhausted. It is real. I decided to take steps to care for myself with more walking, less television, eating a more balanced diet, and following a strict schedule (which did not include midday naps). I asked my personal secretary, “Alexa,” to remind me of appointments. I picked my grandson up on time thereafter (with an M&M McFlurry in hand I might add…his favorite), and went to bed at the appropriate hour. 

Five years. I didn’t experience this feeling with any other “anniversary” of Tom’s death. (I put anniversary in quotes because the word connotes celebration to me…maybe I should use the word “remembrance” or something. 

I digress. 

Tom's Colleagues Campaigned to Have a Scholarship in His Name
As Well As This Lifetime Achievement Award
I think the reason this upcoming day has hit me so hard is because I simply thought I would never live this long without him. And it could go on for years. And years. And more years.

So I decided to do something even more positive. 

You see, Tom’s research to protect people in the workplace was impactful. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has referred to him as a “public health hero.” After his death, the CDC Foundation set up a scholarship in Tom’s name. They established it and told me then that if it reached the $50,000 mark in …yep, Five Years…it will be an endowed fund. 

That means it will go on forever. Young men and women seeking to follow in Tom’s footsteps will have access to financial aide for their education. 

tireless leadership...
fierce determination"
For me, it isn’t that some deserving student will receive funds. For me it is that every applicant will read Tom’s story, look at his body of research, and hopefully, seek to serve others the way Tom did. Tom’s work was, in effect, his ministry. He was passionate about what he did. He sincerely cared about people. 

I want what Tom did to inspire others to conduct research with a sense of “mission” and harbor a deep care about worker safety. 

Five years. It’s coming up.

The fund is short by several thousand dollars. So, here is my proposition:
October is National Ergonomics Month. I will match monies donated in this month. I have limited funds, so there is a cap on how far I can go, but if donors give $15,000 I’ll match it and the scholarship will be firmly established. 

You see, when Tom died, we had just purchased a camper. We were able to use it three times. We talked of our future travels and planned to live in it in Naples, Florida for a couple of months in 2015. 

It was a plan. A dream.

I put the money aside from the camper to use in a way that would honor Tom. This is it. Any amount helps. Twenty-five dollars? Yes. Fifty or a hundred? Of course. It’s all tax deductible. So if you won the lottery and want to donate a couple of thousand, I won’t discourage you! 

And I’ll make it easy. Click onthe following to donate on line. 

If you prefer to write a check, you'll find the form at the following link. Simply print it out and mail it in with your check.  The address is on the form.

And if you already give to the CDC Foundation, you can designate this year’s gift to go to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship.  

Thank you. For bearing with me through all this. Holding me up. Reading to the end. But most of all...for giving.