By Don Rush


This week I talked with two people – one for a story, another who visited me to drop off something she had written from her heart which she wanted to share.

Ella Klimowicz holding a stuffed Wildcat with the message to Uvalde students, Oxford Loves You. All pictures courtesy of the Klimowicz family.

As always, sometimes there are no coincidences. Life lines up encounters for a reason and the reason these two spoke with me is to promote healing. One person is an 18-year-old, recent graduate of Oxford High School, Ella Klimowicz. (To read Ella’s story click HERE.) The other is an 80-something, whose first husband was lost in Vietnam, Virginia Ebeling. To help herself heal, Ella worked all summer to help children in Uvalde, Texas (which is a separate article). Below is what Virginia hand-wrote and delivered to me.

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To the community,

A long, long time ago, before our current students were even born, our country and local community experienced another horrific international turmoil. This event divided our country into opposing factions. Recently, you ran a story on the traveling Wall of Remembrance, which is called the Vietnam Wall. The Wall lists all those who lost their life while fighting for this country in the Vietnam War.

The events of this war forever changed my family’s future. My husband’s name is on that wall, Capt. Robert N. Bradley. My husband was an Army captain and died in 1967. He was a helicopter pilot for the Red Cross ship, which is like an ambulance that picks up wounded. They were supposed to be off-base, neutral, but he was shot down near DaNang. He crashed in the jungle while bringing a wounded soldier to the hospital.

I personally want to thank the persons who helped the Vietnam Wall come to Holly last month. I do recommend a trip to Washington DC to see the original big wall.

There are so many magazine articles and books published by soldiers who were personally impacted by that war. During COVID, I was made aware of two recent books. A Rochester, Michigan gentleman named Randy ‘Doc’ Marcial wrote his thoughts in a book called DaNang Vietnam. Another book of memories was written by James C Downing, called Second Team.

It can be healing for former Vietnam soldiers.

To you readers who were involved in our recent school tragedy: your pain (your physical pain in your heart or stomach) will gradually lessen. Time will help you heal. Trust me. And, time will also help our community’s pain of losing our loved ones. Pray for healing.

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Before Virginia came to our office she called, and I told her I knew her name. She wasn’t sure that we had met, and neither was I. I went to the old archives and figured out how I knew her name. Way back in January of 1990, I wrote a two-piece Don’t Rush Me series on old, one house schools in the area. In the second to last paragraph of the second part, I wrote, “Virginia Ebeling called me with some sort of information, but I was unable to get back to her, so whatever she has maybe we’ll learn more in the future.”

Funny thing, I never got back with her.

But, at the beginning of this column I wrote about coincidences. Coincidentally, on top of my Jan. 17, 1990 column, we ran a short piece by then Oxford Schools’ superintendent, Dr. Mark Orchard. In light of all that has happened in this country the last year to students, many times by other students, I thought it would be nice to share again what he shared then.

What he shared were things teachers would share with parents if they were asked to. Here were those responses which I reckon we can call Parenting Tips:

1. Remember that every child is unique … you are not your child.

2. Realize that all children are special and need positive reinforcement.

3. Spend time listening and learning with your child.

4. Give kids freedom to learn in various ways, including through play and discovery.

5. Give your child time to be a kid.

6. In equal proportion, love, let and limit kids.

7. Encourage a love of reading.

8. Love your child for what he or she is and what he or she isn’t.

9. Honor the institution of school through positive interaction and communication.

10. Let your child fail occasionally. It’s a very efficient way to learn and it allows people to be risk-takers.

11. Model successful behaviors for your child.

12. Take charge of your role and power as a parent

13. Promote the whole child—physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.

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My questions to teachers, parents and students today: Are these still applicable? Are they used today? What is different?

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And, because humor is oftentimes healing, here’s a response to a recent rant I had in regards to texting and emailing.

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Dear King of Crankiness, Don, Thank you for your illustration as to why “men of a certain age” have no choice other than to be cranky! We spent a considerable amount of our formative years learning to express ourselves with some degree of precision, devoid of self aggrandizement and/or cutesy-ness (if this isn’t a word, it should be!) only to be treated to that which we were instructed to avoid!
While we’re on the subject of things that cause crankiness, why not address the cliché (though accurate) regarding “words have meaning.” Words do have meaning, especially if they are spelled incorrectly. Social media is rife with statements wherein, “I sorta get your meaning but you’ve irritated me in the doing”! For the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, the word synonymous with also is spelled with two o’s as in TOO! Our language contains several sound alike words that are spelled differently BECAUSE THEY HAVE DIFFERENT MEANINGS! Too, two, to, they’re, there and their are just a few! They simply are NOT interchangeable and, when used incorrectly, a literal translation is generally not possible! We may think we know what you mean but, then again, we’re not certain because YOU DIDN’T SAY WHAT YOU MEANT!
Thank you for the opportunity to vent my crankiness! I have felt a disturbance in The Force for some time. My seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Larson, has been spinning in her crypt because she did her level best to pound proper language and the meaning of the same into my skull full of mush so many years ago. I can only hope that my defense of the language she so loved will allow her to rest in peace!
Yours in Crankiness, Steve S.

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