A Loving Eulogy for My Father November 11th Veteran's Day 2013

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‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson, British Poet (1809-1892) from his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

Five  years ago on November 11, 2013, my Daddy passed away and went to join my Mama. It was Veteran’s Day, which was appropriate since Daddy had served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the late 1940s. My five siblings and I came up with the following attributes in reference to our father:

God-inspired, man of character, compassionate, humble, man of stability, respectable, charming, hard worker, steadfast family man, musician, avid fisherman, and beloved physician.

At the age of 93, it was certainly evident to each one of us that he had lived a long and beautiful life. Even so, this has not changed the truth of how much we miss him and our Mama, too. When one loves completely, the “missing” may lessen, but it never goes away. I spoke at Daddy’s funeral and wanted to share with you my words to honor the memory of my beloved father:

Joan’s Eulogy for her Daddy
November 14, 2013

Our father slipped away quietly on Monday, a gorgeous, autumn afternoon. The kind of day that our mom would’ve loved. When author C.S. Lewis’ wife passed away, he was quoted as saying :

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) quote from his book, A Grief Observed, written in 1960

I believe that is exactly how our Dad felt after our Mama’s brief illness and death in October 2006. In fact, some of us thought Dad may join her in that first year of his bereavement.  Perhaps dying of a broken heart. But instead, our strong and courageous father rallied.Daddy continued to play his clarinet for his many grandchildren. He took take daily walks for fitness at nearby Dellinger Park. Dad also resumed his volunteer position of delivering Meals on Wheels to the homebound.

From the time I was a little girl, our big family drove to Savannah Beach every August for our annual family vacation. Often this trip landed on my birthday and I thought that was just part of the plan.  A beach birthday trip for Joan and family!

These were always great times! It was wonderful to see Daddy relax and take a break from his busy OB-Gyn solo practice.

When I think about who I am today, and who I am becoming, I think of both my mother and my father. Some of the most important character traits instilled in myself, my brothers, and my sisters are compassion and a strong work ethic. We now observe these same traits and many more in their grandchildren. WE are all thankful for the role model given to us by our parents, and I hope all of us for generations to come will honor their memory with our own lives.

Another life lesson that my father taught me is to have equanimity, a mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness. While I am definitely still learning to practice equanimity, I believe another way to think of this is in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

In closing, I remember how special the fall season has been to our parents, their wedding was on October 21, 1948.  Both Mom and Dad have now had their Homegoing in the fall.

I am reminded of one of Dad’s favorite musicians, Frank Sinatra, singing:

Autumn Leaves

“Since you went away the days grow long,
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song.
But I miss you, most of all my darling,
When autumn leaves start to fall.”
 

I love you Mama and Daddy, so glad you’re finally back together!

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Memorial Day 3 Ways To Raise Up The Flag

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Memorial Day! Cookouts, beach trips, boat rides, parades, picnics are just a few of the activities you and I are taking part of on this Memorial Day, 2016 as we celebrate the start of SUMMER!

We are the home of the free because of the brave. Anonymous

 I want to share with you three ways to honor and raise up our flag as you enjoy this special time with your favorite people. Click here for an amazing 3 minute Memorial Day video produced by Zoomability.

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As I have been placing flags around in flower pots and window sills, my mind keeps going back to when I was ten years old and the U.S. was directly involved in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 Americans were killed in this horrific war, and if you have never taken the time to view pictures/videos about it, or if you haven’t in years, I strongly urge you to click here to learn more about this time.  The U.S. involvement was during the 1962 and 1973, and as a girl at the time, in addition to the news/media coverage, I have three vivid memories.

First, a close friend of our family, Timothy Faust was injured badly in Vietnam and I remember us standing on our driveway on Webster Drive together when he came home. Tim’s mouth was covered with gauze because of the deformity caused by his injuries. After many, many surgeries, Tim passed away as a result of his injuries. Second, our family was very close with The Allen Family, who attended church with us. Their brother, Larry Michael Allen was killed instantly in ‘Nam and here is what a U.S.A. Today article stated in 2012:

“I will mark this Memorial Day by remembering Larry [Michael] Allen, a fallen Marine from Decatur, Ga.
On June 18, 1970, somewhere in Vietnam, our squad ran into an ambush and was surrounded. We were taking heavy fire from the enemy we could not see. We were advancing when Larry (Mike) stepped directly in front of me and one other Marine, taking a bullet wound in the lower stomach, meant for us. As he lay dying before us, I will never forget the helplessness I felt. The firefight was so intense that our choppers could not get in to help Larry (Mike) and the other wounded. That day, we lost a wonderful 18-year-old Marine who not long before was running high school track in Georgia.
I salute you, Larry (Mike). Thanks for giving two of us our lives. Semper fi, my friend.
Terry Franks; Springville, Ala.”
And a word from Betty Lou, Mike’s sister: Sgt. Terry Franks, came to meet my folks in August 1970 when he returned home to B’ham. He still keeps in touch with my mom, called last month.

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. Arthur Ash

And thirdly, and closest to me, my own big brother, John Wade Walker was serving there as a Marine. John was the oldest of six children and I recall Mama praying around our dinner table for his safety. Thankfully, John and his wife of four decades live in southern Mississippi and have three grown married children as well as three grandchildren. John went onto become a lifetime Marine, serving in many future battles. Semper Fi!

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My brother, John Wade and his bride dance at our niece’s wedding.
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My brother, John’s 3 grand babies: Anna Claire, Titus Ray, and Noah James. Their group hug forms a heart!

Read more about my “grand” nieces and nephews on an earlier post: Carve Your Hearts On Hearts.

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My sis-in-law, Jeanie sent me this pic of the flag they hang on their porch every patriotic holiday to honor those like Mike and Tim, who have gone on ahead of us.

Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag:

(1) Think of and remember those, and their families, who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for our freedom.

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Facebook post from my friend, Jay

(2) Teach and train up our children with understanding about what our flag represents.

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Our friend, Sam Moon, 9, with his new friend, Colleen, who was there to visit her father’s grave site.

Cub Scout Pack 178 and Boy Scout Troop 173 Scouts in Marietta, Georgia placed 18,000 flags in minutes. My friend, Stephen  Moon shared this story from their day:

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Some of The Moon Family with Cub Scout Pack 178.

“This happened to make it even more special: A stranger was waiting to take a picture. After Sam placed the flag, Colleen started to cry and thanked him. This was her father’s final resting place (Marine Cpl. Richard D. Marks, Korean War)”

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Our friend, Rosie Moon, age 7 places flags around Marietta National Cemetery.
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Our friend, Will, age 11, and a Boy Scout shows his respect.

(3) Honor and pray for those who are currently serving for the preservation of our freedom.

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Corporal James O’Neil Todd, age 23, U.S. Army, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; 3rd Infantry Division out of Ft. Stewart, GA, currently serving in Ukraine.
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My friend, Julie’s Memorial Day post.
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Lt. Ryan Jackson & Lt. Lauren Jackson, both helicopter pilots are currently serving at The Naval Academy.
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The Gillam & Jackson Families are so excited to welcome Everly Grace, 10:51 a.m. on May 26, 2016!

What memories does this Memorial Day 2016 trigger for you? How can you and I raise up and honor our flag in the days ahead?

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I am wishing you all a Happy and Safe Summer! Please continue to join me here on my Pages From Joan and share my posts with your peeps! God Bless America!

5 Reasons We Should Volunteer Why Should We Do It?

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Many may wonder why should we volunteer? Here is a good list to get us thinking. When asked about why a group of folks took time out each week to volunteer, here were some of their answers: to feel needed, to share a skill, to get to know a community different from myself, to demonstrate commitment to a cause or a belief, to gain leadership skills, and to accomplish a civic duty.

Volunteers are love in motion. Unknown

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer:

(1) Studies have shown that volunteers live longer and healthier lives.

(2) Volunteering can help you establish strong relationships.

(3) Volunteering can complement your career.

(4) Volunteering helps society.

(5) Volunteering gives you a strong sense of purpose.

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“Why volunteering makes us healthier is rooted in biology. One of the best ways to get your mind off your aches and pains is to get your mind on someone else,” says Stephen Post, coauthor of Why Good Things Happen To Good People: How To Live A Longer, Healthier, Happier Life By The Simple Act Of Giving, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. This is one of the important lessons my Mama taught me: “When you are down, help someone.” Click here and here to read earlier posts which illustrate this important reminder.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Anyone who has done any amount of volunteering for any measure of time would likely agree that when we give to others with our heart (not from thought of benefit or reward) that we can reap benefits which are glorious and unimaginable. Simply being a good listener, expressing joy and humor, or offering a genuine, friendly smile, can contribute to lighting up another person’s life. Volunteering can have many surprising benefits!

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A collage project by one of my EXT friends.

One cool thing about volunteering is that you can choose an area that you are passionate about. If you love animals, spend some time helping out at a rescue shelter or a Veterinarian’s office. If reading inspires you, spend some time reshelving books at your local library. If you miss having little ones in your home, consider contacting a local indigent hospital, like Grady Memorial Hospital and rock babies one afternoon a week. I have chosen The Extension as one of my main volunteer opportunities for Volunteerism since it opened in 2009, because the raw courage exhibited by the women who reside there challenges me in my journey.

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. Unknown

My friend, Tammy and I meet up with the ladies there every other Wednesday and have an art therapy/collage activity with them. My friend and I agree that this commitment makes a real difference in our lives, and we believe it encourages the current Extension residents, as well. My personal desire to give back to the community has been renewed by the fact that I am making a difference, no matter how small. Click here to watch a quick video, one of may favorite tales about helping out: The Boy and the Starfish.

IMG_0094Oh, and volunteering does not have to be a weekly commitment. It may involve simply providing a meal for a family who is dealing with adversity or giving a ride to someone who needs one. Just being on the look out for who’s in your path, you will soon see many ways to lend a hand.

Studies have shown that volunteering is particularly beneficial to adults age 65 and older, and those who serve more than 100 hours each year. Volunteers are more likely to report a greater sense of well-being, and of purpose and meaning in their lives, than nonvolunteers. Older adults, who may be prone to social isolation, volunteering can offer strong social networks and a way to stay active in the community.

There has been a debate for some time now regarding whether or not high schoolers should be required to earn a certain number of community service hours. While time management is a real issue, having raised two young adults, we have seen significant benefits of their involvement in their community and beyond. Click here to read about many of the positives that can come from your teen being involved in service, whether it is required, or not. I am proud to know 15-year-old Aidan, who is on a mission to share the joy and necessity of giving to all. Aidan is a speaker, singer, and songwriter and you can like his Facebook page here. Aidan’s website is Aidan Cares.

I would love to hear in the comments below what you have chosen to do as a volunteer.

If you haven’t gotten involved as a volunteer, why not consider starting today?

Group of Hands Holding Letter Volunteer

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A few more collage projects from my Extension friends:

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a bookmark

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Have A Care Kit Party Each One Reach One

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Maybe, just maybe, we will have a chance to “unplug” in the days ahead!

In case you missed it, my last post, Music Moves Us, made me think about another song which goes with the following thoughts:

Another Day In Paradise, by Phil Collins.

Many people across the U.S. today are bracing themselves for a wintry storm. The grocery store parking lots and aisles are packed. The cars are lined up outside the schools for early dismissals. The gloves, earmuffs and heavy coats have been unearthed for this mid-January flurry of activity. But what if you and I were homeless? Don’t you feel helpless waiting at that red-light when a homeless woman or man stands at the corner with a cardboard sign? I do!

Read ahead to learn about an easy way you can help that person the next time this happens.

Did you know that over 16,000 people were reportedly homeless in GEORGIA in a study done in January, 2013?

No one has ever become poor by giving.” Helen Keller 

Click here to read the 2015 report on homelessness in Georgia.

The unifying condition for virtually all of Georgia’s homeless population is poverty. Many people who are homeless also experience some type of personal vulnerability that places them at risk, such as:

  • Family violence
  • Physical disability or chronic medical problems
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Development disability or brain injury
  • Criminal background

Leah and I are planning to have a care kit party soon! If you have some unexpected, spare hours that pop up in the weekend ahead with this winter weather, perhaps you’d like to plan one with your kids, grandchildren, or friends, too!

If you cannot feed one hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

 You can use Evite to invite your friends and delegate out items for each of them to bring. By the end of your party, you will all have a few care kits to keep in your car for the next time you see that homeless person on the corner at a red light. It is a very cool way to impact the homeless in our communities and have fun while doing it!

The following information was obtained by The Portland Rescue Mission website.

How To Pack A Care Kit

Care Kits are a simple way to provide practical help to a homeless man or woman. Keep some in your car so you’re prepared to offer to a person in need.

Items to Include:
A typical Care Kit consists of a watertight gallon-size zipper lock plastic bag filled with items like:

Water bottle
Socks
Tuna and crackers
Granola Bar or cereal bar
Fruit snack or applesauce cup
Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
Gift certificate to fast food
Hand wipes
Pack of Kleenex
Maxi pads
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Nail clippers
Band Aids
Chapstick
Comb or small brush
Mints, cough drops or gum
Rescue Mission meal voucher
Note of encouragement or uplifting Bible verse or young children can color a picture as you teach them about those in need. You may want to also include some information about homeless shelters in your area.

NOTE:
Fragranced items such as soap, hand lotion or deodorant can negatively affect the taste of food items if placed in the same bag. Pack these separately if you choose to give them.
Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer that contain alcohol. 

There will always be poor among us.” Matthew 26:11

Have a Care Kit party! Gather family, friends, co-workers or your community group to purchase supplies and assemble Care Kits together.
Care Kits are useful both in warm and cold weather. In summer, include sunblock or frozen water bottles. In winter, include gloves, hats or heatpacks.

When you give your Care Kits away…

*Don’t be in a hurry. It’s okay to slip it out your window to someone on a street corner or freeway ramp. But consider taking time to park the car and hand-deliver it.
*Smile. This person probably gets ignored by hundreds of people every day.
*Make eye contact. It shows that the person matters.
*Don’t give money. It’s your decision, of course, but we generally discourage giving cash. Instead, ask what their immediate need is and consider how you can help. Buy them a meal? A bus ticket?
*Be available to have a conversation. Some people won’t want to talk, so be sensitive. Others will be delighted to tell you their story.
*Pray. Before you go, while you go, for the people you encounter. Ask the person if they would like you to pray for them right there.
*Offer resources. Ask if the person knows about local homeless shelters in the area. 
*Be wise. The majority of homeless men and women are not dangerous — they’re people just like you. But it’s smart to go out as a group when handing out Care Kits.
*Inspire others. Tell others about your project and inspire them to do the same.

It was good to see in the past week where two churches in our Cobb county community joined forces to aid the homeless in Atlanta, especially as the weather turned bitter cold. There will always be needs in our world and we may not be able to solve all the world problems, but we can encourage one soul with a care kit! Always make your personal safety a priority when helping those in need. And remember to involve the young people who are in your life. Our actions can speak louder than our words, especially for the youth who are watching us as we live out our days. Oh, and click here for one of my favorite stories from 2015 about my homeless friend, Pamela.

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Open hands begging

Brazil Bound

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN BIRTHDAY TO MY SIS, KATHY!

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I am Brazil Bound! Tonight I will be flying all night to Rio de Janeiro, arriving on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. Our team of 10, including my sis, Mary Ann and her husband, Jim, from Piedmont Church will be joining another team from the U.S. to minister to the poor who live in a favela community there in Rio.[pullquote] When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” 
Matthew 25:39-40 [/pullquote] Since 2003, this will be my 6th trip to Rio, thanks to my niece, Amy, who was a medical missionary there for several years before marrying her love, Stephen, and settling down in Tennessee with their first-born, Noah Ray. Our family of four served together in Rio in 2005. [pullquote]If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.” Joni Eareckson Tada[/pullquote]

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A long line for the clinic begins forming the night before. (2004)

Did you know? The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

On this 2015 trip, in addition to holding our usual free Medical Clinic which includes vision, dental, medical, and a pharmacy, we will be working in a school with about fifty students, playing games, telling them stories, and doing art projects. Pictured below are just some of the children I got to meet in Rio in past visits.

IMG_6691 IMG_6696 IMG_6697 IMG_6690Mainly, we will be simply loving on these kids who are offsprings of prostitutes and drug dealers in Rio. Having an Elementary Education background, I am especially excited to be serving the children of Rio in this way.

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The school where we will be working in Rio.
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The school where we will be working in Rio.
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Our Portuguese Coloring Book to Use With our Kids!
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Our family at the Christ Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2005.

Once you’ve been bitten by “the mission bug”, you are forever changed and you will find yourself looking for ways to make a difference, wherever you may find yourself, while you are still here on the earth. [pullquote]How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank[/pullquote]Many jobs and careers are service oriented.  Whether in the U.S. or abroad, there are needs that we can meet.

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A young patient snuggles with a Happy Tails Volunteer.

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Like some of my girlfriends, your ‘difference opportunity’ may be volunteering with an organization called Happy Tails Pet Therapy, reaching out to work in a soup kitchen, sorting items in a clothes closet, art therapy with folks who are overcoming their addictions, or visiting the ill who are in the hospital. [pullquote]Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”    James M. Barrie [/pullquote]If you are homebound, you might send greeting cards to the list of sick folks from your church. In addition, check with local churches and see what mission trips in the U.S. or abroad might be in the works.  The Matt B. Dyas Memorial Golf Scholarship Fund made a contribution towards art supplies for the students we’ll be serving and we so appreciate their support in honor of their son, Matt, who loved Mission Trips. People are willing to financially support those who go, if they cannot go. And always remember the significance and the importance of the ministry of praying.  Encouraging someone who cannot return the favor effects us in an extraordinary way. You will be surprised by the positive impact this will have on your life journey.

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As we reach out with a grateful heart to someone who is in need, OUR lives are forever changed, and hopefully we have helped to change their life, too, if only in a small way.

Our team covets your prayer support while we are gone and I’ll look forward to resuming my Pages upon my return to America on Sunday, November 8, 2015.

Two open hands in the sky with a sphere of light, symbol of gratefulness and gratitude.

How might you and I reach out to

someone in need in the days ahead?

“Gran” Elizabeth Whitton

Last Tuesday was an extra special day for me, mainly because of three people who unexpectedly showed up in my path.

My experience reminded me of a recent post here on Pages From Joan entitled

Who’s In Our Path?

[pullquote]I get so much more from being here as a volunteer than I am able to give.” Barry Birckhead, Volunteer, Wellstar Health System[/pullquote] As I was picking something up at our local hospital, I ran into three people who brightened my day.

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Barry, with his wife, Maureen, who is a Labor and Delivery R.N.

First, was a long time friend of ours, Barry, who has been serving as a volunteer at the hospital since his recent retirement. It is always great to see him, but on this particular day, it was wonderful to hear Barry emphasizing to me how much he gets out of the volunteer work he does at the hospital. The next person I crossed paths with was Brittany, a young Emergency Room R.N. whom I got to watch grow up at our church. Brittany is married and she is Mommy to Elliana Kinsley.

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Brittany (R) and her friend & co-worker, Jenn.
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When Brit isn’t managing emergencies, she enjoys her home in the country with Elliana and her husband, Seth.

Lastly, as I was nearing the exit, I saw a friend I had met back in October 2013, when my Daddy was a Hospice patient.

This is a woman I could never forget.

Mrs. Elizabeth Whitton.

And one of Mrs. Whitton’s granddaughters

—Tiffany—

is one I hope we will never forget.

You see, as of September 13, 2015, Tiffany has been missing from our community for two years. In fact, Balloons of Love for Tiffany was held on 9/13/15 at Living Hope Church.

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I will tell you more about Tiffany in my next post, but first I will share about my friend, Elizabeth, known as “Gran” to many grandchildren and 13+ great-grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Whitton, now age 80

Elizabeth Whitton helped start the Music Therapy Program for Cobb County hospitals, as well as Hospice facilities. She finds great joy in bringing peace to others with her beautiful harp. No stranger to sorrow herself, Elizabeth’s husband died 18 years ago of Glioblastoma (otherwise known as “brain cancer from hell”, according to Elizabeth) when she was sixty-three. Even amidst her tremendous grief, determined to continue living, Elizabeth used her harp to heal herself while she ministered to others. [pullquote]If you are sad, help someone. Not only will that person be helped, but you will feel better, too.” My Mama, Polly Shivers Walker  [/pullquote] The more she played, the more she wanted to play. One of her greatest memories, at the request of her granddaughter, was playing in the hallway while a new great-grandchild entered the world. Following the excitement of the birth, the delivering doctor told her this was the most peaceful delivery he had ever been a part of.

Elizabeth Whitton is a volunteer Celtic harpist who came and played for my Daddy in October 2013, and for all of us who were there with him. In addition, Elizabeth came to play Amazing Grace for my Daddy’s funeral service on November 13, 2013. Just weeks earlier, her granddaughter, Tiffany’s disappearance weighed heavy on her heart, and yet, Elizabeth continued to give her “gift” to help others like me…she played her harp. What an example Elizabeth Whitton is of giving of herself for the benefit of someone else.

With the unanticipated pleasure of crossing paths with Elizabeth this past Tuesday, what was her immediate response? Elizabeth sat right down in the Robert A. Lipson Center, the lobby of our local hospital, and began to play a concert for one: me.

And what did Elizabeth Whitton play? Amazing Grace.

What small or big way can you and I give back to others?

If everyone in this big world would answer that question,

and do that one thing,

what a difference we would see across our globe.

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