All posts by Jane

In Memory of Gwendie Camp: 1941-2016

Gwendie in the cloudsOops 50 lost a dear friend last week, when Gwendie Camp finally succumbed to the cancer that cast a shadow over her life for nine years.  When first diagnosed, she was told she had very little time left, maybe six months to a year.  Nine years later, she died.  If there was ever a model for how to keep living with grace in the face of certain death, it was our Gwendie.  During those nine years, she lived life to the fullest: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  She moved from Asheville to Florida, to be closer to her son, Jonathan, and his family, especially her darling granddaughter, Daisy.  She used her amazing brain to research all her treatment options, and she was willing to try anything to take a chance on getting better.  She worked with Jonathan on a small business out of her apartment in Florida, selling books online.  She even started her own ETSY site to sell the little knickknacks she had accumulated over the years.  She wrote insightful pieces for her own blog and for us. She had several of those pieces published. She celebrated birthdays with enjoyment and food.  She played her grand piano.  She enjoyed her cats. She visited with friends and family.  She laughed with her friends.  She kept her fabulous sense of humor right to the end. In June of 2010, she even took a ride with her friend, Barb, in a hot air balloon and shared the experience with our readers. This picture from that day sums up Gwendie’s approach to life, and it is how we imagine her now, floating somewhere up in the clouds, happy to be experiencing a new adventure, smiling and smiling.  As a last tribute to our dear friend, we are sharing her obituary with our readers, so that you get a full view of this amazing, wonderful woman.

To read some of Gwendie’s wonderful contributions to this blog, just type Gwendie into the Search button!  I especially like the piece from May 7, 2010 about her grandbaby! Jane

The body of Martha Gwendolyn Roberts Duncan Camp, known to all as “Gwendie,”  breathed its last on Thursday, April 7, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in the presence of several loved ones. The essence of Gwendie escaped to the unknown and unfathomable, available now to us through memories, photographs,  her writings, and various of her “precious things.”

Gwendie was born on July 3, 1941 in Ft. Pierce, Florida to Minnie Lou Hunter Roberts, a farmer’s daughter, and Joseph Lee Roberts, Jr., a fisherman’s son, and thus was raised with a love of and appreciation for Mother Nature. She was also raised to be honest and true, hard-working and generous, and with a love for reading and music.  Despite the modest amounts of money and opportunity available to her, Gwendie was encouraged and mentored by teachers and others who saw to it that she could go to Florida State University with assistance from the Southern Scholarship Foundation.  Due partly to the era in which Gwendie attended college, and mostly to her egalitarian instincts, she left FSU with a strong commitment to civil rights and to “women’s liberation.”  (She still regrets that the ERA amendment to the Constitution never passed.)  Both of these passions played into the choices she made later in life and into the people she chose as friends.

Serendipity often seemed present in Gwendie’s life, especially in relation to her education (BS, MS, PhD from Florida State University), her professional careers (science educator, medical school administrator, educational ambassador for problem-based learning, to mention several) and her geography (Fort Pierce, Tallahassee, Iowa City, Winston-Salem, Galveston, Asheville, Ft. Lauderdale, to cite the long stays).  In her retirement, the discovery of her ability to tell a story in writing stemmed from her chance reading in the newspaper of a special course on writing for “women of a certain age.”  (See examples at her blog:  www.gwendiesblog.blogspot.com).

Her earlier training and experiences were useful in her last years as she learned to live with metastatic breast cancer and the consequences of its treatment.  Her ability to adapt and adjust was admired by many, and she was willing to accommodate to the disease until she could no longer live comfortably and independently.  That is when she let go and let Mother Nature have her way.

Gwendie is survived by her beloved son, Jonathan Hunter Camp (Irena Kandel), and granddaughter Daisy Leona Camp, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; her sister Mary Roberts Landgraf (John) of Orlando, FL, her niece Kimberly Landgraf of Boulder, CO, ex-husband Larry Camp of Tallahassee, FL, step-daughter D’Laine Camp of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, step-son David Camp of Barcelona, Spain, an aunt and numerous cousins, most of whom are Florida natives.  She also leaves behind a large number of far-flung friends, including international friends made during her professional career and a special crew of women friends in her favorite spot – Asheville, NC.

Gwendie suggested that, if desired, memorial donations be made to the Southern Scholarship Foundation, 322 Stadium Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32304.

 

I Talked to My Mother This Week

It has been a while since our readers have heard anything from us!  Sorry!  We hope to do better in 2016. First -time grandmotherhood for Jane and a job change for Annice made things a little crazy!I  But, here we go again!  Welcome back to Oops50, which should really be called Oops60 at this point, but we are fond of the original name!  Here’s Jane’s first post for the new year.  And, please, send us your posts!

Jane
Jane

I talked to my mother the other day.  The only reason that is worth mentioning is that my mother is dead. Here is how it happened.  I was driving by myself on a fairly long road trip—the perfect circumstance for me to think too much about things that are worrying me—and I realized that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad.  I just had one of those awful, down-to-your-toes sadnesses, and the first thought that came in my head was “I wish I could talk to Mama right now.”  That thought made me even sadder because one thing I miss more than anything since her death is the ability to pick up the phone and talk to her about things—bad and good—that happen in my life.  But then, I had this thought:  ‘why not just talk to her now?’  And then I entered this very strange place where I imagined myself dialing her number (since most of my conversations with her happened over our land line and not by cell phone!), and then I had a conversation with her.

First, I apologized for not calling in so long, and then I launched right in to telling her about everything that was on my mind. And, the next thing you know, I was crying—just like the old days.  I talked and talked and cried and cried, about every last little thing that was bothering me, and as I talked and cried, I felt the muscles around my heart start to loosen up, and I could feel myself start to breathe a little easier, and I realized how much tension and worry I had been holding in.  And then—and this is the really remarkable thing about it—I felt that tremendous sense of release and relief that I used to feel when Mama would say something as basic as “I hate for you to be feeling this way, darling” or, her standard, “Get some rest, and I know you will feel better.”  It was as if Mama, from across the miles and years and clouds or whatever is between us had said, “Everything is going to be all right,” and, wonder of wonders, I believed her.  And, for the rest of the day—and even now, a few days later, I’m still feeling the effect. 

My family of origin!  Mama's in the middle, with me to her left.
My family of origin! Mama’s in the middle, with me to the left, back row.

I have to say:  I’m glad I was on a road trip when this happened and not driving down a street of my town.  No one could see me or overhear me, so they couldn’t accuse me of losing my mind and hanging out with ghosts.  But I had this urge to share this experience on the blog because I highly recommend it to those of you have a mother who has moved on to her reward:  give her a call sometime!

The Tile: A Wonderful Help to Absent-Minded People!!!

Jane in Africa 2012

Today I am going to write in praise of a wonderful new invention: the Tile. We received several of these for Christmas from my friend Nancy, who looks out for me and likes to make my life better. She figured that our family of ADD-sufferers could use some help in finding things. The Tile is a wonderful invention that you can stick in your wallet or on your keychain or your laptop, and then you can use your I-phone to locate those things when you lose them! We put one Tile in my husband’s wallet and one on my office keys and one on the car keys, and it has helped us through several crises lately. We have avoided yelling and panicking when we were late for a critical meeting and have just calmly gone to Tom’s I-phone and found out the location of the item (it uses GPS technology and a loud beeping sound).
Here is a link: https://www.thetileapp.com/

And here’s a picture, close to the actual size:

the tile1

 

 

 

 

There is only one problem with the Tile: what happens if you lose your I-phone?

Becoming a Grandmother: Part Two

Aven and grandma

As some of you may have noticed, I have been absent from the blog lately. I confess I have not had the energy or the life spirit to write. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the problem until a few nights ago, when I realized that I have been suffering  from the only downside of becoming a grandmother to Aven: an inability to stop thinking about the future and about the terrible world we are passing on to those coming after us.

I can see now that I  must have adjusted somewhere along the way, without even knowing it,  to the fact that my children will, at some point, be living without me in a world full of problems–or I’ve just been so busy being a parent that I didn’t have that much time to ponder! Or I have taken comfort from the fact that I have  at least had the privilege to watch our four grow into adults, and so I know they are strong and loving people and that they will, in any case, have the good sense to hold onto the ones they love  for strength during bad times.

But Aven is so little, so fresh, so vulnerable.  I look at her, and I remember what my Uncle Jack once said about another new baby in the family:  “Even her little insides are all bright and shining.”  I look at her, and I get angry.  I can’t help but wonder why in the world things are so damn difficult for people?  Why in the world can’t we stop all this mess and create together a world that is better and safer for children?

FullSizeRender

I can’t stand to listen to the news.  I try, every now and then, thinking I can handle it, but then I hear another story about young girls being stolen off into the woods of Nigeria or about some German guy deciding to fly a plane into the ground, killing a whole class full of students coming home from an exchange program abroad, and I have to switch off the dial.

I do not know how to come to terms with things like ISIS or climate change when I consider even the possibility that such things could, at any point, become real for Aven.  It was easier before because I could think, “well, at least my friends and my sisters and even my children will all die before the polar caps melt” or “well, we’ve all survived so far with terrorists in the world, so maybe we can hold out a little longer.”

But now, Aven is here, and so the time span for my worry has lengthened.  There is this precious little creature in the world with her mama’s eyes who, at the very least, will have to hear about all the future, unimaginably terrible things that will happen–that’s if she’s lucky and doesn’t have to experience them firsthand!

Lizzie and Aven
Lizzie and Aven

 

I haven’t had much luck turning to religion for comfort, so I turn to poetry.   I keep thinking about Yeats’ poem,  “The Second Coming.”  He was writing about a totally different time in history, but he could so easily be writing about today.  I won’t say this poem is uplifting, but it is strangely comforting to me because he wrote it so long ago, and yet he expresses the way I feel lately about the world we live in, especially about all the evil currently being carried out in the name of religion!  Forgive me if I quote the whole thing, but, when I read this poem, I think to myself two things:  1) maybe things aren’t as bad as I thought, since Yeats thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket, and yet we’ve muddled along for almost 100 years since then!  and 2) “I bet Yeats was worrying about his grandchildren when he wrote it!”

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
yeats

 

 

Teaching Children Compassion

headshot

Welcome to Marianne, a new contributor to our blog!!!
Hello, I am a mom to an incredibly compassionate nine year old. I had my daughter at 44 years old. She is the love of my life!  I love to write, paint, and bake vegan treats. But my true love lies in animal rescue and teaching compassion for animals to children.

Compassion is not the same as sympathy, empathy or altruism, although each plays a part. The compassionate person feels the suffering of another and takes positive steps to alleviate that suffering.  During his talks, the Dalai Lama emphasizes how important it is for children to experience compassion from their parents or caregivers, from birth. 
True compassion is being highly attuned to your children’s needs and accepting them for the unique people they are.  From birth, compassion is something that can be taught and developed. And the earlier, the better!

Model Compassion:
 Show compassion towards your child and towards others. 
 From the start, every child needs to feel loved and secure in order to thrive. Their needs have to be respected, if we expect them to respect others.  Security comes from knowing that they can count on their parents or caregivers. It comes from knowing that they will be listened to, taken seriously and protected. We must love our children unconditionally and recognize them as the unique beings they are.

Children must also learn to be responsible for their own actions. However, parents and caregivers are very influential in determining how a child acts. Children watch carefully how their parents and other adults treat each other. By modeling compassion towards others, you are teaching them what you value.


This is also true with how we treat our pets and other animals. Your children have watched you closely from birth and are so attuned to your feelings, that they can look at your face and know instantly what you are feeling!  Never yell at your pets, call them names or hit them. Most people who have pets know this and love them and treat them as part of the family.   Your children will learn how to treat your family’s pets with compassion and love, if you model that behavior for them. Show them the correct way to speak to a pet, gently pet them and care for their needs. Show them by doing.

All animal lovers know how to treat a pet, most likely because they grew up in a loving home, with parents who modeled compassionate behavior towards animals. Teaching kindness and respect for animals is the first step in teaching children compassion.

My nine year old daughter with our dog, ChiChi and volunteering at the Bucks County S.P.C.A