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Archive | May, 2012

Floods, Of Memories.

 

 

In 1913 a flood swept through Dayton Ohio destroying thousands of homes, killing hundreds of people, and taking the lives of over one thousand horses. There are not many people alive today who can relay these memories first-hand, but Dorothy Staeuble is one who can. At one hundred and one years old she can tell you what she remembers of the flood: the death of her fathers’ horses as he tried desperately to lead them away from the too-quickly-rising waters of the Great Miami River.

 

Dorothy has lived in Dayton her entire life and, with the exception of the flood and the painfully challenging times during the Great Depression, she has fond memories of her life here. Memories of dancing with her girlfriends at Triangle Park where she says softly “I guess I was okay because someone always wanted to dance with me.” While the details are, at times, a bit fuzzy, the smile that brightens her face as she recollects those days of dancing is not. Memories of summer vacation bus rides to deliver lunch to her father, followed immediately by a walk through town to see a picture show. And, memories of a past well lived that has left her with a sense of heartfelt presence in all of her todays.

 

These days, you can find Dorothy nestled into the recliner, strategically placed, no doubt, near the door of her apartment in an assisted living facility. The large, open window in the room provides an abundance of light as numerous birds play just beyond its panes. She greets you with a smile, happy to have the company and when you ask her about her life and what it feels like to be her age she’ll tell you it is prayer that has kept her all of these years. So, she spends some of her days leading the rosary prayer with other residents, hoping that maybe, just maybe, it can give them the longevity it has already given her.

 

She may no longer be dancing, but she is still smiling as she shares pieces of her life with you. If you’re lucky, you’ll leave a friend as, even at one hundred and one years young, she’s still making new ones.

Family Reunion

Laughter as computer links Betty and her grandchildren

Betty Keeton raised her family in Dayton.  Her two daughters and son were lively youngsters, and Betty can remember singing in the choir and seeing her young son crawling under the pews of the church.  She laughs now as she shares that he is now a pastor himself, living in New Jersey.  Betty’s two daughters have also moved away, to Florida and Tennessee.  Betty, now in failing health, has remained in Dayton where she receives so much support from church friends who have become like family.   While she enjoys a steady stream of visitors, she surrounds herself with images of her offspring, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in her room at The Sanctuary.

It’s Friday morning and Betty is looking forward to visiting with her granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.  Betty is in Ohio while they are in Virginia.  Betty has never seen these great-grandchildren in the flesh, but thanks to technology and Hospice of Dayton volunteer Lee Seoh, this Grandmother and granddaughter enjoy regular family visits.   Lee supervises the computer Skype connection enabling Betty and her great-grandchildren to share some quality time together, seeing each other and catching up to date.    At the sound of her grandson Gavin’s voice, Betty’s face lights up and she is amazed to see how much he has grown since their last Skype visit.  Granddaughter Kristie holds up the baby, Kylie, to show off her “chunky, soccer thighs” to Betty, who beams.

Kristie shares updates on family vacation plans, 4-year old Gavin’s obsession with the movie “Cars,” and the possibility of a new assignment for her husband, Jeff, who is in the Navy.  Then she asks “how are you feeling?  Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing to feel better, Grandma?”

“Kind of,” Betty replies, laughing.  “I’m feeling like when you’re turning 80 you should be able to do whatever you want to do.”  Kristie laughs and agrees, finding no argument to counter her Grandmother’s logic.

Betty relishes these visits, grinning from ear to ear at the antics of the children who are happy to show off for Great-Grandma even if she is thousands of miles away.  The sound of children’s laughter, the joys of every day conversation, the connections of generations serve to sustain us all, even when those connections come by way of computer screen.