Friday, August 06, 2004

Day 5 & 6: Joliet, IL and back to Ohio

Dad and I met Andrea Hein in Joliet, IL on Thursday morning (Aug. 5). Andrea was intrigued by the LifeBio idea and decided to write a column about it. It will appear in the Joliet Herald News on Monday. Andrea said that life had taught her...that everyone is, first and foremost, human. Each person should be treated with dignity and respect. No one is perfect. Joliet is a special town because it's the only place in the U.S. where Route 30 and Route 66 meet. Maybe someday LifeBio will make it all the way down Route 66...

We made our way back through Indiana--through Indianapolis--and then on to Cincinnati, Dayton, Springfield, and home to Marysville, Ohio. Over 1,000 miles were put on the car in only 5 days. My husband and my kids were sure glad to see me back. I know I will always remember this wonderful trip, and the good times I had with the people we met and with my Dad. During the trip, I had seen my whole family--my Mom, my sister (LeAnne), and my brothers (Ed and Lance) plus their families. Everyone had been a part of the LifeBio Road of Life Adventure. That's the way it should be.

Let's do it again next year!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Day 4& 5: Chicago...Chicago...that wonderful town!

Later on August 3rd, Dad and I headed on I-94 from Detroit, past Kalamazoo, and on to Chicago. We were able to keep the top down on the convertible Mustang MemoryMobile as the weather improved, and we handed out LifeBio YoYos at gas stations and other stops along the way. Kids and moms & dads liked playing with a YoYo. Some said it had been many, many years since they had YoYo'd.

In Chicago, we found our way to North Ave. to the Transitions Bookplace & Cafe so I could present a workshop on how and why to tell one's life story. I also covered the topic, "What can we learn from Aunt Betty?" My great Aunt Betty was a missionary to Korea in the 1930s and to the Belgium Congo (later Zaire) in the 1940s. She was ordained and served United Methodist churches in the 1950s. If I ever doodled or failed to listen in church, she was there to correct me. We also shared birthday parties together since her's was February 12th and mine was February 13th. The lessons her story teaches are: women can do anything, get a good education (she did), and hold children to high standards.

During the workshop, we met some incredible people who shared their life stories with us. A good time was had by all. Here are some of the LifeBio questions that participants answered:

What does it take to succeed in life?
Marian Jones writes: 1) A positive attitude; 2) Encouragement and support from others; 3) "Stick to itiveness" - determination; 4) Resiliency; 5) Faith in self and others and in a higher order; 6) Gratitude
Jeff Solotoroff writes: Many of the things you read about in the "how-to" books--having clear goals, vision, and perseverence. But I've also learned how important it is to have friends and family as your support team, to show gratitude, and, above all, to have fun along the way.

Is there something you have always wanted to do that you have never done? What is it?
Aamir Ashiqali writes: Take a year off to go work in a rural, underdeveloped community.

What has life taught you?
Donna Kline writes: To feel safe, I must be secure in myself.

What is your most memorable vacation?
Tommie Parker writes: St. Augustine FL. Because of the person I was with, it probably wouldn't have mattered where we went.

What is your earliest memory?
Linda Diamondson writes: Descending the basement stairs with my father. We had moved into an old house and he was showing me around. In the basement, I discovered the toy giraffe from my old house. It was missing an eye.

Were heading for home tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Day 4: Sister Mary in Detroit

I had a 7 a.m. appointment with Sister Mary Watson at Detroit's St. Patrick's Senior Center. The rain made me a few minutes late. She showed me the dining area, which serves 150-200 seniors lunch every day, before we headed to a room next to her office to talk. Sister Mary told me about her family of 11 children and that her mother had prayed (without her knowledge) that one of her children would enter ministry. At age 14, she went to the convent and knew that a life of service was the right thing for her. After serving as a dietician in hospitals, she was asked by the church to provide meals to seniors in central Detroit. Using an old Catholic girls' high school, she began cooking for seven seniors the first day in 1973. Now over 30 years later, the St. Patrick's Senior Center's staff of 20 provides daily meals, exercise programs, computer training, activities, outings, and, most importantly, a safe and comfortable place for seniors to gather and talk with one another. Sister Mary is their greatest advocate, and she sees what Jesus wants for her community and works for it. What an honor to have the opportunity to record her life story.

From Detroit, I headed back to the hotel to pick up my Dad. Chicago is next...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Day 3: Detroit, MI - Interview with Ernie, a 93-Year-Old

Dad and I made it to Detroit. Visited the St. Patrick's Senior Center--an INCREDIBLE place. I had the pleasure of meeting Ernie Popyk. I heard about his experiences during World War I in the Ukraine as a boy. His clothes were made from the uniforms of fallen German and Russian soldiers. Coming to America, through Ellis Island, was a big shock. He saw cars and planes for the first time.

From nearly starving in the Ukraine to starving on the streets of Detroit during the Depression, he has worked hard for everything in life. At age 14, he was working in a steel mill, wearing extra coats to make himself look older in order to get the job. The working conditions were terrible, but men needed a job so badly that they did what they had to do. If a worker dropped under the strain or heat, Ernie said there were another 100 men waiting in line to take over. Ernie said that unions were very important to improve their lives, and they sometimes had to force the older men to walk off the job to accomplish their goals.

Ernie got married, raised a family, and ran his own business. He's surprised that he has lived to 93, given the obstacles and tragedies that were a part of his life. This is one strong man.

Tomorrow I will interview Sister Mary Watson who began the St. Patrick's Senior Center in 1973. I can't wait!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Day 2: Pennsylvania Soldiers' and Sailors' Home & Cleveland, OH

Day 2 was very interesting. We met Karl Clark, a Vietnam War veteran, at the Pennsylvania Soldiers' and Sailors' home in Erie, PA. He served in the Marine Corp and spent 13 months in Vietnam near Danang and the de-militarized zone (DMZ). The violence unfortunately had a lasting affect on his life, and he's realizing that now. Karl was an iron worker for many years after returning from the service didn't mind being 600 ft in the air at construction sites. Today he is studying to be a priest and he enjoys maintaining a beautiful garden at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home. A wonderful man. I'm glad I got the opportunity to meet him and to make an audio recording of his story.

My Dad and I headed out from Erie to Cleveland's Fairhill Center, a place that offers many services to seniors and their families in the area. Here we met Richard Gaffney. Mr. Gaffney, who is 81 years old, had served his country during World War II on Christmas Island and other spots in the South Pacific as a radio operator. He came home after three years, married his sweetheart, and raised five great children. He worked in the South Euclid police force for 29 years. Mr. Gaffney's wife passed away about a year ago after a fight with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. He cared for her during her illness and misses her greatly. He helps other caregivers at Fairhill who are struggling with the same experiences he has lived through.

Of course, being in Cleveland, we had to take the MemoryMobile down to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

Detroit or BUST! On Day 3, August 3, 2004, we will be at St. Patrick's Senior Center in Detroit at 58 Parsons St. On Wednesday, August 4, 2004, we will be in Chicago at Transitions Bookplace at 7 p.m. for a FREE life story writing workshop. YOU are invited! Hope to see you on the trail!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Day 1: August 1, 2004 - Erie, Pennsylvania

The Road of Life Adventure headed to Presque Isle State Park to greet beachgoers and to pass out old fashioned, wooden YoYos. Being across the street from a busy playground, we met a lot of kids and their parents and grandparents. The point is that these kids need to know their background and family value system--before it's too late. LifeBio helps people get this recorded. Everyone enjoyed a look at the Mustang Memory Mobile which is covered in photos and packed with our traveling gear.

Our Journey Journal has begun! We are asking the people we meet to contribute to our collective memories from this trip. They answer a LifeBio question and tell us where we met them. Some of our favorite answers are...

What has life taught you? ANSWER from Jen Nicol in Dublin, OH: That life is one big roller coaster, but you've got to roll to the bottom in order to climb back up to the top.

What is your most memorable vacation? ANSWER from Danelle Pulice Stone in Erie, PA: Ocean City, NJ from 1970 to 1977. Each year in August, my family spent 2 weeks in Ocean City, New Jersey. We traveled with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for a total of 22 of us. We rented homes on the beach and spent our days tere and our evenings on the boardwalk. These are my best childhood memories.

What does it take to succeed in life? ANSWER from Veronica Edwards in Erie, PA: Know God. A true and living God. No false prophets.

Day 2 is going to be fun! Cleveland or BUST!