Tag Archives: family

Pets: Forever Enriching Our Lives


This week we helped the most beloved member of our household move on to her next life. She epitomized the word “cuddle” and was always full of kisses. She traveled to the desert and mountains with us and clear across the country to visit our family. For the entire 13 years of her life, she never complained and always showed nothing but love. There was not a mean cell in her soul. There is a void now in our family household, but she is at peace now. Dearest sweet June, faithful companion, never complaining, full of love and vigor for 13 years until blindness, deafness and arthritis took hold over the last year and in the past few days she just wore out. Up to the very end she was loving, even in her weakened state. Our lives are so enriched by her presence. Her passing was peaceful. I could just envision our pets that had passed on before June, all who had lived with June – Star, Sokrateez and Simba –  waiting for June as she passed into their realm, tails wagging. 

Thank you our lovely June for everything you were and are to us over these years.

June Carter-Cash Pope
April 17, 2006 – May 23, 2019

Aging: A Continuum of Growth, Part 1

My growing up culture involved living and working around the elderly. My grandmother, a nurse, administrated a county nursing home for the low income elderly and before that she administrated a home for the indigent aged. I have beautiful memories of accompanying her on her rounds and I loved conversing with the residents. Through my grandmother’s actions I learned to appreciate the stories, passion and general companionship of my aged friends. Most of all I learned respect for people of all ages. My mother, also a nurse, upheld and modeled this culture as I grew up. I actually ended up working my way through college as a nurse’s assistant in a nursing home. Even for the most non-functional bed-ridden patients, I would treat them with respect as I cared for them, including talking to them even if they could not talk back. I would often volunteer to work holidays in double shifts so that my colleagues with children could have some time off – and I loved the work and being with the residents during those holidays when their families did not show up to visit.
In my first 20 years of life, I experienced life, love, compassion, energy, illness, dementia and death. Most of all I experienced the model of intergenerational relations that influenced my continued growth.

Fast forward to my adulthood where I have spent all of my career working with youth, the other end of the spectrum. Through my experiences, I have learned to love and respect the energy, passion, love, creativeness, inquisitiveness and yes the rebellion – along with the challenges they face – of my students (many of them are grown up now and have children – in some cases adult children!). I have loved teaching them, providing housing and food for some of them who were abandoned, playing with them, getting to know their families, helping them apply for college and find jobs and becoming their friends as adults and watching them continue to grow.

Early in my activism life, I came to know and respect Indigenous Elders. Within the community of my Indigenous friends, I have experienced a wealth of knowledge and passion for the life that is given to us from our Mother. I have witnessed the culture of appreciation, community and respect between the generations.

I am blessed. I have a rich repertoire of memories and experiences that span the age spectrum that continue to shape me as a person. As I grow into elder-hood, I appreciate the lenses I have been afforded through my experiences. One of the most important things I have learned, and have vastly improved upon but still struggle with sometimes in moments of my own heated emotions, is the art of listening, even when I don’t agree. And not just to listen, but to sit back and reflect on what I have heard. Often It is not easy to do this.

My hopes and desires regarding the figurative passing of the torch is that we all – of all ages – work together and harness the collective love, passion, energy, wisdom, caring, ideas and fortitude to continue the work to protect life on our planet.

A goose among us

 Every day, sometimes more than once, I hear, and sometimes see if I happen to be outside, flocks of geese flying over my house and yard.  I often see dozens of them in the field next to our house searching for morsels of food to consume.

And each time I hear and see them I pause and smile, and sometimes tear up.  And I wonder…..

My grandmother’s favorite living things were birds….especially geese.  Each day her routine consisted of eating breakfast at her kitchen window and watching all the birds in her yard.  No matter where we were with her, she would stop and pause in her tracks every time a flock of geese flew overhead and she would exclaim, with hands clasped to her chest "Oh, aren’t they just beautiful. Listen to them. I just love them!".    Grandma put an intimate meaning to the phrase "goose bumps".

I found this information on goose symbolism in native american culture:

Goose: Dec 22 – Jan 19
If you want something done – give it to the Goose. Persevering, dogged, and ambitious to a fault, the Goose sets goals for accomplishment, and always obtains them. The goose is determined to succeed at all cost – not for the approval of other – but those with this Native American animal symbol competes with his/her own internal foe. Driven is the watchword for the Goose’s dominating personality trait – which makes them excellent in business and competitive sports. When tempered with supportive, nurturing family and friends, the Goose excels in all things he/she attempts. In a loving environment the Goose can be very passionate, humorous, gregarious, and even sensual. 

Here are some attributes of the goose:

* Communication
* Determination
* Fellowship
* Teamwork
* Confidence
* Protection
* Bravery
* Loyalty

Geese are incredibly gifted navigators and instinctively know the way across the long haul to warmer climates. They forge ahead with confidence and bravery.

Lessons we all can learn from our totem geese include:

* Remember your roots – don’t forget the people who helped you along the way
* Follow your gut – rely on intuition and instinct in order to get where you need to be
* Communicate your needs to others – no one can help you if you don’t speak out
* Protect that which is most valuable, but make sure you have your priorities straight (meaning, be sure you’re protecting that which is worth protecting) 

All of this is very fitting for who my grandmother was.  She was confident and brave (always forging ahead no matter what the risks or obstacles), driven by her confidence to succeed.  She was very good at business affairs and definitely was a communicator (in many ways….).  She was a protector, always stating that she would defend anything or anyone who came in harm’s way of her "babies".  She had an uncanny sense of intuition that led her – and us – on many creative and adventurous paths.  Grandma was definitely a leader and inspiration to everyone who knew her.

So each day when I hear these flying beauties I wonder if my Grandma is among them. I wonder if she is watching over me and protecting me and my "babies".  And each time I hear them fly over, a sense of peace comes over me.  And somehow I know that she is indeed with me in many ways more than just my memories of her.

Back “to the grind”

 It’s always interesting to come back to work after a break.  Not only do I have to wrap my head around where I left off before the break, I always face disappointment in myself for not accomplishing my goals over the break.

Try as I may, I invariably make plans to do a lot of work I put off until a break, only to never accomplish even a fraction of it.  I get caught up in being with family, travel, and home projects waiting for the break for me to attend to.

What I have to realize is that it is okay to take that break, to regroup, to not let work rule my off-working time.

SO……never again!  I will attempt to never make those promises to myself to "work on work" for school over breaks – at least not things that can wait until I’m back to the grind.

The reason we live like this

I am reposting this.  My daughter wrote this when she was 15 for an English assignment (she is now 20):

The reason we live like this

Everyone has a different outlook or perspective on the way they do things. Most people put

time away to get to their destination in life and stick with it until death as part of their


My goal may be different than everyone else’s. My goal is to live up to my responsibilities of

being a human being; to live each day, not as if it were my last, but as if it were my first;

to learn something new and remember the kindness and generosity I am supposed to show other

people and things that make up who I am.

In today’s society there is so much wrong:
or even just the fact that there are some people who can’t walk grounds without someone

bringing to their attention how useless and unwanted they are. We shouldn’t put those things

aside – we should listen, we should care, we should try to make things better between

everything and everyone. Just because the good things you do might not mean anything to most

people doesn’t mean you didn’t help someone get through a difficult situation – you made a

difference to them and to yourself. Don’t let the world move you away from what you have

already become.

I’ve had experience with change and being alone – everyone has – but that’s what it’s all

about. Some people have it good – some people have it bad. Then some people, like me, just have

it – life and everything that comes with it. Change effects everyone around you whether it be

your Mom, Dad, friends, etc., – it effects everyone.

So the reason we live like this isn’t because we want to – it is because we have to. Whatever

life’s plan is for you is what you have to take, even if it means going out of your way to

please other people and yourself. Life’s gonna knock you down sometimes and that’s OK but

what’s not OK is when you let life keep you down. When you feel knocked over just get back up

and start all over again. It may not make a better past but it will definitely create a

positive future.

Reflecting on my Dad’s 80th Birthday

 Here is an article I wrote and published last summer (2009)  on my Dad’s 80th birthday.  It was published in the local papers in his area (Middletown [Maryland] Valley Citizen and Brunswick Citizen)
Frederick County Baseball Enthusiast Celebrates 80th Birthday with The Frederick Keys
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Play ball!" That’s just what one Frederick County resident did to commemorate his 80th birthday at a Frederick Keys game June 28, 2009 .

Donald "Don" T. Taylor, lifelong resident of Frederick County, born and raised in Brunswick and residing in Middletown for the past 43 years, officially became 80 on May 19, 2009. His children presented him with the gift of a sky box at the game, the thrill of throwing out the opening pitch, and an announcement on the electronic board on the field.

"We had been planning this for nearly a year," states Donna Gaver, Don’s youngest daughter, of Middletown. Deanna Taylor, Don’s oldest daughter, of West Jordan, Utah, adds, "Baseball is Dad’s passion and we thought a night at the stadium would be the perfect gift."
Indeed it was.

The entire family, consisting of Don’s wife, his four children and their spouses, 9 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren (one who was born on Don’s birthday this year!), plus a few friends, gathered at the stadium to celebrate Don’s big event with him.

"It was a very exciting game. The Keys were leading right up until near the end," says Frank Taylor of Keedysville, oldest son of Don. David Taylor, Don’s youngest son of Middletown, adds, "Dad had a great time regardless, though. I held some practice pitching sessions with him in preparation for throwing the opening pitch."

A fabulous fireworks display ended the evening of fun. "He was thrilled, of course," says Nadia, Don’s wife of 51 years. "We all had a wonderful time!"

Don said that being on the Keys playing field was "challenging, fun, and really thrilling to have had the opportunity to do something like that."

Don has had many baseball highlights in the past 80 years. "A personal highlight was pitching for Towson State Teachers college (now Towson University) in the late 1940’s. The highlight in professional baseball was seeing the Baltimore Orioles win three world series – that was quite a thrill."

Don has seen many changes in 80 years in Frederick County. Generally, the biggest changes have been its population growth and urbanization. "Frederick County was a rural farming county. There are still many farms but over the years that number has been
reduced due to the growth."

Don dabbled in politics in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with his bids for House of Delegates. Although he did not obtain the seat for his district, he was glad for the experience of running a political campaign. "The whole family was involved in helping run the campaigns. I met many great people. Each campaign we ran involved a lot of exciting work."

Don points out an ironic bit of trivia about The Citizen Printing/Office facility which is in Brunswick on Main Street. "That building is the exact same building that my brother, Jerry Taylor, and I ran a service station out of around 1960."

About how it feels to be 80, Don states, "Glad to be here. I am the luckiest man on earth….I have such a great family."

Paraphrasing the words of Oliver Wendall Holmes when someone asked him how it felt to be 90, Don says, "Oh to be 70 again!"

Green Party proposes hour of darkness

I serve as secretary of the Eco-Action Committee, an official committee of the Green Party of the United States.
See the Eco-Action Committee News Ticker here.

I found this post today about an action item the Eco-Action Committee has put forth for the third Thursday of each month – Dark Earth Hour:

December 18, 2008

This holiday season, the Eco-Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States is asking Americans to observe a Dark Earth Hour from 9 to 10 p.m. tonight, the third Thursday of the month.

By turning off all unnecessary lights and appliances for that hour, we can show our understanding of the need to conserve energy as we seek to move away from destructive technologies and to wind and solar power.

The Dark Earth Hour is more than symbolic. Especially during this period of high electricity use, it can represent an actual reduction in power demand. The Eco-Action Committee encourages people to light candles, visit with family and friends, or simply take a quiet hour of down time during this busy season.

No matter what your political persuasion, the Dark Earth Hour is a reminder that we are all in this together, and we can all take this opportunity to power down for the Earth.