Blessings, Connecting, Family, Life, Love, Rainbows

Going Home, Again

They say it can be easy, but…

Such a simple phrase — Going Home, Again — but with profound implications when you grew up in an orphanage, a children’s home, or as a resident of family services. Going home again, can be a challenge, but it can also be a revelation.

The Home

A couple of weekends ago, June 22-23, 2019, a group of “old” kids got together to remember, reflect, and on Saturday, to dedicate The Hough House. We came home.

During the dedication ceremony of the brick structure that was the home of the Franklin Hough family, the current Executive Director, Dr. Richerson mentioned that the number of children that passed through the campus was counted to be over 30,000. I was one of them.

These were children who relied on the support of strangers. Not because they desired it, but in many cases, it meant life or death. Children who knew nothing about what their potential future may hold, but were clinging to the hope that the people who were entrusted with their care, would do them right.

The dedication of The Hough House helped bring that home to me. It also brought back many memories. Two of the three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Hough, Jr along with their daughter were there to celebrate their father and grandfather’s work. Together, we remembered living on campus as one and we celebrated the Hough legacy.

Listening to different ones share their memories through story, one thing became very obvious. We were family then. Not all by blood. But, by a unique set of events that thrust us together. The important thing I realized, we still are family.

What’s In A Name?

The Baptist Orphanage of Virginia first opened its doors in 1890. Then, around 1953 the name was changed to the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home (VBCH) to reflect the change in need of the children. Most were no longer true orphans, but were there due to financial hardships or other family tragedies. VBCH was the name I came to know, hate, and then loved.

The "Old Main" Building on VBCH campus
The “Old Main” Building on VBCH campus circa built 1900s raised 1960s

Through the years, the needs of Virginia’s youth, and adults required more help, more intervention, more hope. Thus, in 1985, the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home changed its name again to include the families it served. The change made the name long – The Virginia Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services. Now, it is doing business as HopeTree Family Services. There is still a residency campus in Salem, VA at the same location. This name covers more aptly the vast services offered.

The Work

Many of the old buildings are gone. I remembered walking their halls. But somehow, the ghosts of those old buildings reflected the work that is still going there now. And the new structures show the determination to continue that work.

When I was growing up there, at any one time, there were at least 200 or more young souls running around, being kids, learning how to live, and to do it together. There were adults who served as our houseparents. They were surrogates. Their job was not easy. I know that now. At the time, I thought they were there to be cruel, rub in the fact I was an “orphan,” or it was a job.

The administrative staff worked miracles as I look back on how they managed to wrangle so many of us with so many different issues. To think as many of us turned out as good as we did is in and of itself magic.

You see, the need has not changed, what has changed is the services offered to Virginia’s families now. It is much broader and reaches a diverse group of souls.

Reunion Time

The lives touched by those who made campus life in Salem possible was seen in the dedication of the members of the VBCH Reunion Committee. This committee is made up of “old” kids who were residents. Often their spouses pinched in to help.

It took me over 40 years to walk on campus again. And when I did in 2009, I was numb, excited, and marveled at how the campus looked different from my memory.

This past weekend, walking around the campus, I saw many more changes. Hours before the dedication was to take place, finishing touches were being made on a new handicap access ramp to the old print shop building, which now serves as a museum.

Then, I saw my brother, moving around the reunion table setup in front of the museum. He was helping Debbie, Stan, Fred, Larry, and many others, too numerous to name, getting things ready for the days ceremony.

Visiting – Greeting – Remembering

Different “old” kids began arriving. It was a joy to hug and greet them. It was going to be a good afternoon.

My husband, Albert, and I went into the museum. Pictures of the campus as it was in the early years were on display. They contrasted with images I had in my mind. We looked at old annuals of Andrew Lewis High School where “The HIll” kids mingled with “The City” kids. The annual I picked up and looked at with care was the “final” album. My little brother, Ralph, was a member of that last class–the class of 1977.

Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind…

Searching through the pages, I found images of him playing football. Happy. Five years later, he would be gone from us. Bitter sweet memories of Ralph, Archie, and I came to mind when we’d play, fight, and then run around the grounds with other “brothers and sisters.”

Next, we walked through rooms replicated to depict scenes of life on campus–the infirmary room, the dinning hall, a cottage room. Each I could relate to, and I shared with Albert memories or events.

On one wall were the portraits of two Executive Directors – Franklin Hough, Sr. and his son, Franklin Hough, Jr. They were the reason for the dedication of the Hough residence.

Life

During my ten-year residency, I lived in three cottages. The first being Hobday and the second was Robertson — an innovative cottage for brothers/sisters to live in together that was consider “close to a real home life.” The summer of my Junior year in high school, I moved to Shiloh cottage to live during my Senior year.

While on campus that Saturday, my last roommate with me in Shiloh, Laura, greeted me. We hadn’t seen each other for two years. It was fun to catch up, talk, and commiserate.

We walked the campus together talking about the different cottages as we meandered the sidewalk to where we lived. Shiloh no longer stood where it once protected us. The shadows of that building structure formed into a ghostly image. There it stood in my mind all the same.

Hobday Cottage on VBCH campus with the print shop to the left.

Hobday cottage with the print shop to the left

Then, when we walked back to the center of campus, across the parking area from where the old main building once stood. I looked to my right and saw myself as a young eight year-old girl, carrying my suitcase up the steps to Hobday cottage. Hoping my life would not end, praying I’d be okay.

And, as it turns out, I was okay then. On this day, I had come home again and I was doing well.

My husband waved to me. We needed to walk down to The Hough House. It was time to make more memories with my family.


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Personal Aside…

This past Wednesday, June 26, was our daughter, Julie’s birthday! Happy Birthday lovely, young woman! May you have a most wonderful year! HUGS to YOU!

Pam's Quill - Going Home

Write on!
Pam

This post Going Home, Again was first posted on Pam’s Blog on June 28, 2019.

Book Two, Connecting, Update, Writing

It has Been A Month…

Today marks one month since Pam posted to her blog. Life tends to take turns in unexpected ways. This past month was like that in several ways…

Pam B. Newberry, a little older than 61, of Virginia was reported missing and presumed lost at sea on September 14, 2018. Her brother, Archie, called Pam’s husband, Albert, and was not able to speak with him. “I think she left for Ireland or maybe even Scotland,” Archie said. You should talk with Pam’s daughter, Julie.

After checking the airlines, and not finding Pam’s name among those listed. Julie told us she contacted various cruise lines. She said, “It wouldn’t surprise me that she hitched a ride on a cruise ship making its way across the Atlantic for the winter. I talked with her neighbors. They said they saw my Dad leave with several bags in tow.”

Then, one of Pam’s BFFs called. “I gave Pam a ride to the Charlotte airport where she got a plane. The weather was not too bad that day. She let me video her getting out my car. She was so happy to be going on a trip. She loved to travel, you know even though she was scared of flying. But, now, I’ve not heard from her. I have no idea where she is. She promised she would write me once she arrived wherever she was going. She wouldn’t tell me where. I’m worried.”

Albert, a retired Public Safety Director for the little hamlet where he and Pam have a seven-acre farm told a neighbor the day before he was seen leaving, “Pam and I like trying or experiencing different things—we’re Renaissance people. It seems no one really knows what someone would or could do if given the chance. Including me after being married to Pam for over forty-years.”

A high school chum of Pam’s said, “I saw her car at Lover’s Leap along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You don’t think they jumped, do you?” Another called and admonished Julie. “Do you know where she is? Why would you let her disappear like that?”

The neighbor said Albert seemed calm about the fact Pam hadn’t been seen since he came back from an errand in town. He said, “I was with her most of that day. When I last spoke with her before I had to run to Lowe’s for an errand, she said she would make us a gourmet meal. She loved cooking, trying new recipes, and enjoying a glass of wine while she worked in her kitchen wearing one of her many aprons she collected over the years. I miss my wife.”

Jean said, “As her sister-n-law, she told me things she didn’t always tell others. She always wanted to learn to fly. She went to the airport alright. She got a plane alright. But, it wasn’t a commercial plane. She rented a two-seater, and she took off over the ocean. She wanted to be like Amelia Earhart. She is an independent woman who wanted to go to Ireland.”

When this news reporter called Julie asking about the rumor that Pam flew a plane to Ireland, she replied, “That’s plum foolish. She didn’t know how to fly. And, she has claustrophobia. Besides, she gets lost driving in town. If anything, she is doing a famous stained glass piece for some magical place. Or, she’s helping a community of free-spirits farming and living off the land. She loves growing her own food.”

She went on. “Did you know that she owned several restaurants in various parts of the country. And, she managed them all from home. She works magic with food. Her favorite place state-side is in Bolinas, California. Back in 1997, she setup a quaint little restaurant there. It is one of the best kept secrets of hers.”

Then, a fellow writing friend, Rosa said, “My friend was a comedy writer for variety shows and even received some awards using her pen name–Juan Day-Isle Gough. She did all sorts of technical writing gigs for some really big dudes in the northeast area. I imagine she’d become a YouTube sensation one day, given the chance. Her audio work is pretty impressive.”

Pam’s great-niece said, “I think she is hiding out in the John Muir woods or the Redwood Forests or she and Uncle Albert might be in the hidden world of the Great Smokey Mountains. Aunt Pam told me once that she loved the old growth forests the best. She said there weren’t many of them left, but I bet if she has the chance, she’d get herself a cabin there and you’d never see her or my Uncle again. They are constant companions and love each other. Neither one would go away without the other.”

That’s one story. Another is that for the past year and one-half Pam’s been gradually getting sicker and sicker fighting a hidden illness that conventional medicine did not know how to diagnose with the usual tests. It turned out to be a chronic condition that got worse over the course of twelve years. During that time, Pam had six colonoscopies and six endoscopes. Nothing was found. Yet, her symptoms persisted. And worsened. The inflammation was horrible and the pain severe. She often said that she knew in her heart of hearts she had cancer and they didn’t know how to find it.

One fateful day, it took a wise voice to change the course of her life. An understanding nurse practitioner suggested she try food allergy testing. She did. She learned that she was allergic to soy and sesame and all of the related products. Her symptoms were like having poison ivy in the lining of her digestive system from the top of her esophagus to the end of her colon and all points in-between. After learning how to remove soy and sesame from her diet, her life changed. For the first time in years, she wasn’t in constant pain or suffering from constant loss of blood.

The relief overwhelmed her. She took a break from the busy hustle-bustle of the world. It happened to coincide with Albert’s retirement and their fortieth anniversary. Two weeks away from all forms of communication, a piece of tranquility came over her. She decided to use this newfound free time to catch up on her writing. Her novel-writing had suffered the last six months. She was behind in meeting her deadline.

“Something strange happened,” she told me when this reporter reached her yesterday. Pam continued, “I found that weaning myself from feeling I had to do this or I had to do that freed me to love writing again. I was no longer chained to it. I was doing it because I loved doing it. I was free!”

This reporter asked, “Will there be other moments where you won’t be doing things you’ve done in the past. You know the kind of things I mean — get on FB, write your blog regularly, work on your current book, do your stained glass, work in your garden, be a gourmet cook — those kind of things?”

“Yes,” she said.

Update: Pam has written about a third of her new book. She is not going as fast as some would like, but she is having a wonderful time writing again.

Thanks for reading! If you like this post and want to support it, forward it to a friend, write me some love in a comment, or best of all, buy a book!

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Cheers,
Owl - Mr. Scruffy Icon - Rainbows

 

This post – “It has Been a Month…” was first posted on Saturday, October 13, 2018 on Pam’s Blog.

Blogging, Challenges, Connecting

LATEST ON GDPR AND ME

IT’S TRUE…YOU HAVE TO READ A LOT TO DO SOMETHING…

That’s how I feel. I’ve read, re-read, and read again. Updating my website to be GDPR complaint has been an experience.

A little over a week ago, I sent out a message to those on my newsletter list asking them to confirm they would like to continue to receive my newsletter in their e-mail boxes. In that message, there was a marketing permissions section that you “MUST” confirm you would like to receive a message from me before I could send you a newsletter through my messaging service. This new policy is now enforced as of May 31, 2018. Without your permission, if I am to communicate with you via e-mail, I must send a private message to you.

Sorry folks. As much as I love ya, I don’t have time to do that little ditty. Well, maybe sometimes. {Smiles!}

During the next week or so, I’ll send a “repeat” message to each of you that did not click “email” in the marketing permissions section of my message to verify it wasn’t an oversight. The reason is that you volunteered to receive my newsletter in the begin. If you choose to unsubscribe, then do that instead of clicking the e-mail. I’ll understand and know how sometimes e-mail can be too much to deal with on occasions.

Please be sure to follow the steps in the message or otherwise you’ll miss unique news, fun promotions, and special savings. Not to mention early announcements about up coming books and other events.

That’s the update for now. My plan is to send out a newsletter by the middle of June. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, consider doing so. Use the pop-up that comes around.

Until we talk again I’ll be writing Book Two of The Chronicles of Eldershire.

Write on!
Owl - Mr. Scruffy Icon - Rainbows

Connecting, Connections, Firsts, Introducing myself

Get to Know Me

Get to know me…

Let me introduce myself so that you can get to know me and I want to get to know you, too! I’ve blogged for a while now. I

Social Networking
Social Networking

took a course under the tutelage of Dan Blank and setup my first blog, Miss Beehaven with Hobbit Queen. It was my beginning beekeeper’s step into the world of blogging. This blog is still active, I’m just not very active at writing on it.

Then, I branched out and began blogging here and on another site, J. K. Brooks Publishing. The problem is, I still wasn’t all that good at being active.

So, I decided to try my hand at Blogging University Blogging 101 course. I first signed up last fall. But, you guessed it. Life got in the way. So, I’m trying again. This time, I’ll do as best I can in hopes I’m able to complete as many of the assignments as possible.

But, what I want most is to connect with others. To find people and make friends. I want to know from these friends if my writing efforts are worthy. If my blog is helpful. I want to know if my words are being read–what any blogger wants.

Michelle and team have “…encourage [me] to do a version of this assignment: use it to revisit what [I’ve] said when [I] first started blogging, to take stock of what [I’ve] accomplished and what more [I’d] like to do, or to lay out some goals for [my] next six months.”

I think I’ll do the last one — lay out some goals for the next six months — it is easier. Though, I must confess, I did complete an update on my “About Me” that I retitled as “Connect with Me!” So, please check it out and leave a comment or two–good or bad.

Goals for the Next Six Months

To kick this section off, I’m going to use the questions that were provided by this first assignment:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

Pam’s Answer: That’s a good question. I’ve journaled (is that a word?) for most of my life. Now, I’m suddenly wanting to put my thoughts out for the world to read. Hmm. What am I thinking? Oh, yeah. It is what everyone says you should do if you want to be successful in this new digital age of information. You need to connect. So, I’m working at connecting with people. We’ll see.

  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Photo from wikimedia creative commons

Pam’s Answer: Gees, Michelle. These are tough. Was I supposed to think about this? I’ve got characters buzzing around in my head that want to get put on paper. Let’s see. I got it. I don’t have a clue. I thought I’d wing it. I think I see Michelle looking at me over her glasses. Okay. I’ll think about it. Oh, I know. That’s what I hope this class will teach me how to learn to come up with a list. How’s that? Not so good. Yeah. You’re right. Well, okay. Here’s a short list:

  1. My life
  2. My life writing
  3. My life as a beekeeper
  4. My life as a novice stained glass maker
  5. My life as a cook
  6. My life as a gardener

How’s that for a start?

  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Pam’s Answer: Oh, now I have thought about this question. A lot. Readers. People who like to read other people’s words and provide support. People who are looking for new authors. People who like to connect with other people. People.

Writing is a very lonely world. Oh, sure, an author has the characters in his or her head. But, have you talked with yourself a lot. It ain’t too much fun, bub. So, to avoid loosing a total grip, I thought it would be good to connect with people who have something to say. That are willing to engage in a conversation. To learn together.

  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Pam’s Answer: Another tough question. And, here I thought answering these questions would be fun and a piece of cake. Hahahaha. Well, let me think. (Picture Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life). Clarence taps his finger to his chin, and he says, “Yes. Yes, I believe that will do it.” And poof, magic happens.

I’d like to know that

  • I’ve connected with at least one hundred new souls
  • I’ve established an active interaction with at least 50 of them
  • I will be encouraged to build my connections, friendships, and to continue with my writing.

Whew! Am I glad those questions are over. Thanks, Michelle and team for pushing me forward. I have one blog post down (actually two, if you count my updated Connect with me…)!!! Whoopee!

Write on dear friends to be…
Pam

Like Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot from FreeDigitalPhotos.net and photo of mouse and pencil from wikimedia creative commons