Monday, June 17, 2019

Father May I
With the recent celebration of Fathers’ Day, I decided to pay tribute to fathers everywhere. The first Father I would like to honor is out heavenly Father. The part of the triune being that is called the Father is the example of the perfect father, a being that is filled with love and compassion beyond human understanding. A being that hears our every thought, knows our every need, and gives us the exact things we need and the instant that is best. The Father sent his Son to suffer, bear our sins and iniquities to the cross, and to die an agonizing death to pay the sin debt that we owe. We were enslaved by besetting sins with no way to purchase our freedom, yet this Father God had compassion and asked Jesus to die in our stead and then to rise to lay the pathway for our redemption and way to enter Heaven.
I would also like to honor my earthly father Edson Carl Beck and all of the fathers in our family. None of them were perfect, but I have learned much from them. Their culture and their beliefs have helped to shape me into a loving father. I am far from perfect, but God is still working on me daily. I strive to do his will in my life and am blessed to know his Son as my personal Savior.
I am thankful to my son Andrew and my sons-in-law, Eric Yoder and James E. Prinkey. Andrew and his wife Renee are raising their daughters in the nurture and admonition of a loving home. They share the love of God, the perfect Father with them. The girls, Celine and Moriah both are home schooled and enjoy making music on their violins. Both are creative and beautiful young ladies.
Eric and Amanda Yoder are raising their daughter Hannah with solid biblical teaching. I am so grateful that they are loving parents and teaching her biblical truths. Hannah loves to sing and is teaching herself to play the piano. They have more children waiting in heaven, lost before they could be born, but they are loved all the same.
James and Anna have the love in their hearts to be good parents. They’ve lost two children, miscarried from the womb. Their desire for children is unabated, but James is a father none-the-less. It is a place where love and grief intermingle.
So, to all of the fathers, I wish the recent Father’s Day was a special part of your lives.

Friday, June 14, 2019

When I hear the word Laddie, I and many others think of the Scottish word with the meaning of a young man. My wife Cindy Morrison Beck was of Scottish descent. Her ancestors came from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides Islands northwest of Scotland.
I also have memories associated with the word Laddie. My uncle Charles Bottomley owned a long haired dog of collie mixture. His shaggy coat was black with some brown patches on its body and a white star on its chest. My recollection was of my uncle on the porch laughing at Laddie and me. What caused him to laugh? I was holding Laddie’s chain leash and Uncle Charles called, “Here, Laddie.” When he did, the dog was off like a shot. I was pulled from my feet and suspended in the air like a flag before gravity claimed me and I was dragged behind this canine rocket. I was either too surprised or too stupid to let go of the leash.
The second memory falls back to a time when I was exploring in the woods behind our home. I heard a whimpering sound and followed it. I found a puppy in a decayed hollow space at the bottom of a tree. Carrying him back to our house, Sybil my mom said, “We can’t keep him.” Then she said, “Look at those paws. He’ll be huge. Let’s see if we can find him a home.”
I’m not sure who she asked, but the dog ended up at my grandparents Ray and Rebecca Miner’s farm. Grandma immediately called him Laddie. This could easily been the end of the story, but my grandfather had a way with animals and Laddie became his guardian angel. Laddie arrived at a good time, Granddad’s dementia was worsening. He would sometimes wander around the farm to care for animals that he no longer had. Laddie was his constant companion. Wherever Granddad strayed, Laddie was at his side.
The incident I recall occurred when Granddad got lost in a wooded section of his farm. When he didn’t come back to the house, Grandma became worried and called the family to search. They came and scoured the farm. They checked everywhere in the unused buildings and the rubble of the collapsed barn, then expanded the area to search the fields and woods. They found Laddie at Granddad’s feet, watching over him. When questioned, Granddad said, “I was tired and sat down to rest.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Faded Memories
Often my mom, Sybil Miner Beck would tell stories of life as she grew up in Indian Head Pennsylvania. She was from a family of six sisters and two brothers, often telling tales of living on a farm and about her siblings. As with most families, some recollections were flattering and some were not, some were amusing and others quite sad. Frequently she shared anecdotes that made her family unique. These stories and sharing songs were an integral part of the person that was my mother.
Mom told us that when a suitor for one of her older sisters would come to the house he would sing, “Miner girls won’t you come out tonight.”
Mom would often sing a ditty that would correspond to something someone said. She regaled in sharing incidents from her past. Slowly, she lost this faculty. Alzheimer’s disease ate away at her ability to recall her past. Her life and intelligence became trapped somewhere inside of her. As the disease progressed, when we would remind her of a story she once told with relish, there was no connection. She would only mumble, “If you say so,” when we’d ask, “Isn’t that right, Mom?”
Her mental capacity had been in gradual decline, but sharply turned a corner after the death of her sister Violet Bottomley. She and Violet talked on the phone every morning. While they were chatting, Violet died. I believe that incident mentally tipped Mom over the edge causing her to become mean spirited and difficult to deal with. Later as my dad Carl tried to get her to do something she didn’t want to do she threatened to stab him with a large meat fork. He couldn’t care for her at home any longer and placed her into a nursing home with care 24 hours per day.
Granddad Raymond Miner died from the disease “hardening of the arteries” with accompanying dementia. It caused him to live in the past wanting to take care of his stock that was no longer there and to deal with farm memories used to be his life. Restlessly, he’d wander the house with thoughts of chores he needed to do.
Each one of his six daughters, Rachel Peck, Cora Hyatt, Violet Bottomley, Ina Nicholson, Sybil Beck, and Cosey Brothers eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease. Was it genetic? Neither Dale nor Ted lived long enough to have exhibited symptoms of the disease. These strong, vibrant women who cared for their own families were reduced to mental invalids that needed to be cared for until they died.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Poll-ish Calls
I am the first to admit I get upset with robot calls, scam calls, and solicitation calls. I have posted several rants about the plaque that so often interrupts almost every hour of the day. Poll calls are another interruption and a bane to my peaceful life of writing or watching television. I am often quick to dismiss the caller in a sarcastic curt manner before I return to the task at hand, but Saturday evening I must have been in need of a diversion, because I was actually polite and possibly amusing.
Late afternoon, the telephone rang. A woman with a delightful, polite voice asked if I would be willing to take a five minute poll and answer some questions for the Pennsylvania Fish and Wildlife Commission. I’m not sure if it was her voice or whether I was bored, but after a deep breath I agreed.
As I answered the questions, I discovered that the lady’s name was Clovis. She was from a metropolitan area of Virginia nearly 700 miles away. The questions she asked were about the deer and wild turkey population. The variety of questions revealed just how much of a city person she was. One question was what did I think of people feeding deer? I shared that some farmers planted corn or soybeans to provide browse for them, but it was necessary to explain what baiting an animal meant. She asked whether I lived in a city, small town, rural farm, or rural area and asked whether I looked for deer with a spotlight. I told her that I didn’t, but rather I looked for sign of trails or scat. Another question was whether I was bothered about deer droppings in my yard, whether I had deer encroaching on my property and eating plants, or whether I allowed hunting on my property. I shared my property was too small to hunt on.
During the conversation I explained wasting away disease in deer was worrisome and I’d seen deer with tumors. When asked about the amount of deer I said that depends where I hunted, but I often saw dead deer along the highway and suggested that the Game commission push more heavily a hotline to report and have the carcasses removes. Ticks were another area broached.
All in all, it was a pleasant conversation, ending by me sharing that I was an author and blogger. I gave her a brief synopsis of my writing and I shared my BlogSpot address. I know she was being paid to talk with me, but it became a pleasurable interruption of my evening.

Friday, June 7, 2019

I was thinking about D-day and the invasion of Normandy Beach. I pulled this poem from my files to honor the fallen soldiers and sailors that sacrificed so much to keep the despots in check and to keep the torch of freedom burning brightly. My salute to those fallen heroes.
Alone Now

She weeps

Tears fall

Folded flag

Held tightly

Remembering him.

Tall and strong

Young and alive

But no more.


She weeps

Broken hearted

Inconsolable, empty

Ribbons and medals

Clutched in hand

Remembering him.

Gentle lover



But no more.


She weeps

No comfort

Grief stricken

Unbearable pain

Remembering him.

Tender hero

Valiant knight

Blessed hope

To return no more. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Perfect Landing
I was still fairly new at the Nursing Supervisor position, probably about two years being in that middle management role when something happened for which I’d never been trained nor had I been educated how to handle this emergency. My orientation to the position lasted only two days. Half of that first day of orientation, I followed Stella Wolak, a long time supervisor who rose from the rank of an anesthesia nurse at the old Frick Hospital located on the main street of Mt. Pleasant. The second half of the day, I was in charge of half of the hospital.
My second day of learning, I was in charge of the entire hospital. Stella was in the building in case I had any questions. My third and fourth day as supervisor, I was alone, in charge, and responsible for the entire hospital for the entire weekend. I was kind of thrown to the wolves in a sink or swim situation.
There were some hard and fast guidelines, but much of the time, a supervisor had to use past history, skills, intuition, and judgment when new situations arose or would fall into gray areas. Trial and error were sometimes my best teachers. Thus an incident for which there was a policy, but I wasn’t made aware of it. I had no inkling that one existed.
The emergency room was very busy with a variety of illnesses and accidents when they got a call that there was an auto accident with multiple injuries. Because our helipad was closest landing zone, the crew was transporting two of the most critical patients to be picked up there. Our helipad is only able to handle one helicopter at a time. I was in a quandary. Both helicopters would be landing within seconds of each other. What to do?
It was afternoon shift and the small parking lot adjoining the helipad was empty, there was the wind sock for the helipad and the fire department would already be there, so I had them cordon off the parking lot to accommodate the second incoming air ambulance. The helicopters landed, the patients arrived, were loaded, and the helicopters took off without incident. I thought I had done a good job, but the next day management pulled out their massive rule book and said, “There’s a policy about two helicopters landing. The second is to use a second site at nearby Frick Park.” Policies in a book are useful only if people are made aware of them.
I took the brow beating and managed to supervise for another twenty years or so. I still think I did a good job with the limited experience that I had under my belt.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Dead Men Tell No Tales
I may have shared this story before, but if so, bear with me. This event happened after I finished Boot Camp in the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility and after Corps School Training. My first assignment was to the hospital of the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida. My aunt Helen and Uncle Jake Stahl lived close by which made it convenient to visit them. I enjoyed the time I spent with them and my cousins and their families.
The corpsmen were housed together in several buildings on the training center’s property. My roommate’s name was Eric. A thin guy with wire rim glasses from Indianapolis, Indiana. He had a habit of letting chores build until he could wait no longer, then he would choose a weekend, and fueled by amphetamines, he would be in constant motion, which earned him the nickname of Buzz.
He owned a tan Volkswagen beetle and because he had wheels he was the main source of transportation for several of us when we left base. His friends liked marijuana, but their preference was hashish. I didn’t do drugs or even use alcohol. I was too much of a country bumpkin to try. Being a na├»ve bumpkin kept me out of a lot of trouble, but one time it almost cost me my life. What made it worse was my roommate and my “friends” were the ones who plotted to kill me.
The O.N.I. (Orlando Naval Intelligence) were investigating a report that several corpsmen were using drugs. Buzz and each of the “friends” were called in individually and questioned about their involvement. While being questioned, the investigator had a list of the names of suspects on the desk in front of him and one of the “friends” could read upside down. Each of the group members were listed but mine. My name was glaringly absent.
In their paranoia and fear, they initially reasoned that I was the informant and made plans to kill me, but I wasn’t in the barracks. I was visiting with my kinfolk that weekend. Coming back to the base, I was unaware of my assassination plot, but having the time to calm down and think more rationally, they decided that my name shouldn’t be on the list, because I’d never done drugs. I’d just chummed around with them. I was unaware of the plot until one evening Eric shared the entire scenario with me. But because of the grace of God, I am still alive today and able to share this story.