Sunday, September 23, 2012

Love sent out into the world really does rebound multiple times

Immediately after the dedication ceremony last Sunday, the family received many compliments on the garden and the ceremony.  And, my Mom, received many compliments and heartfelt remarks on her speech. "... the garden is the last physical gift Dick gave Newfield but not the last spiritual one.." These reactions made all the efforts worthwhile and provided a glow to our individual souls as well as smiles on our faces.

But one reaction really did prove that my father's brand of encouragement lives on in others.   A few days after the ceremony, we opened a card and it was a thank you note.  The words inside were so sweet and thoughtful.  The note had been sent by a couple that knew/know my father and mother from church.  To receive validation that we "had done the right thing" for the town by donating the garden was just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dedication Ceremony for Meditation Garden Held Sunday Sep 16 2012

The garden now includes 4 trees - 2 maples and 2 thundercloud plums - to frame up the hardscape, shrubs, and flowers.

The small sign says "SIT  Remember"

The day was bright and sunny as this photos appear.  The ceremony was brief: the President of the Rose Hill Cemetery Association,  Harold Down, welcomed all who turned out and introduced my Mom, Betty Jane Davis; my Mom read the speech that had been written by her, myself, and my two children (Melissa Hayman and Brent Simmons); the Newfield United Methodist Church pastor, Rev. Howard Marshall, gave a dedication prayer; Harold handed my Mom a dozen yellow roses; Harold cut the ribbon and announced  the garden was officially open; and finally, Father John Tomossa, who before he retired was priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, gave a benediction.

Lots of family and friends turned out and many compliments to the look of the garden were spoken.  I want to thank Cutting Edge Lawn Services for all their work in helping design and then in implementing the garden.  I provided some some directions and Brian Saccomanno made all the right choices.  I also want to thank Birchwood Design for the beautiful hardscape and the last minute addition of a small ramp from the lane to the pavers.  That little touch got many a work out on Sunday.

My Mom also received many positive reviews for her steady, clear speaking audible to all the crowd and the speech itself.  The speaking part was helped along by an ION Audio IPA16 Block Rocker AM/FM Portable Speaker System.  The text of her speech follows below:

Welcome, friends. Thanks to each of you for coming out today -- this last Sunday of the summer -- to dedicate this garden with us.

My husband, Richard Davis (or Dick Davis -- as so many of you knew him), was born here in Newfield in a house on Church Street — and he lived here his entire life.

He gave so much of his time to this town he loved. He worked to keep Newfield the peaceful and pleasant town we all love. He grew up here, raised his kids, and grew old, and always served this town.

From the time he was old enough to volunteer until his passing in 2009, Dick was a member of the Newfield Fire Company. Year after year, you would find him turning the chickens in the pit for the Annual Chicken BBQ. Those were some hot days! And yet Dick would stand right by the fire and wipe away the sweat — and make sure the chicken was cooked just right, and make sure everyone got some delicious chicken. Dick could always stand the heat.

An explosion at Fox’s Grain Elevator in the 1950’s showed the Fire Company that it needed more equipment, and the "chicken bbqs" were started as a way to raise money to buy what the company needed. If Dick was with us today, he would want me to mention other Newfield residents who contributed so much to the Fire Company, friends such as G.B. Saul, George Kohler, and Pat Marshall -- to name just a few.

Dick was on Borough Council, chairing the "Street and Road Department.” But he was more interested in solving problems and helping people than in politics. Too bad for politics!

Some of our younger and newer residents might not know this, but once upon a time Newfield had a thriving squab farm called Dyer & Davis. When the founders retired, Dick took over the business. And when the squab industry shrunk, he kept a bit of the farm going, first as part of a catering business, and later to feed his extended family on special occasions. We still miss those roasted squab dinners. And we miss the corn and tomatoes he grew in his garden.

In the 1950’s, Dick took on the job of Secretary of the Edgarton School Board, at a time when new county and state regulations turned a relatively straightforward job into a giant knot. So many years later, just this month, Dick’s great grandson and great granddaughter started attending Edgarton, the same school he, his daughters, and some of his grandchildren attended. I know he would be pleased that he contributed to a school where two of our great grandchildren are now enrolled.

I wonder if some of you know why the Newfield Swim Club was built. At a time when children were still contracting the dreadful disease Polio, swimming was closed at local lakes, because people believed this would help prevent the spread of the disease. With lakes like Malaga, Willow Grove, and Palatine closed, where was a kid to go during those hot summer days? Happily for the Davis girls, Dick helped get the Newfield Swim Club built and served as director to ensure the pool was maintained properly.  Four generations of his family have enjoyed swimming in that pool.

Newfield United Methodist Church enjoyed the benefits of Dick’s time, and he enjoyed the benefits of membership in the congregation. Dick was a trustee of the church from the 1950’s until his passing.  Initially, he prepared Easter Sunday Breakfasts and annual Pot Roast dinners; later, he offered wise and gentle counsel to members of the congregation.

Dick’s father, Harry, had been a director of the Newfield Savings and Loan and treasurer of the Rose Hill Cemetery Association. When Harry passed away in 1965, Dick took over some of those responsibilities.  Today, the savings and loan is long gone. But Dick was there to help shepherd its takeover during the deregulation of the 1980s, a responsibility he took very seriously.

Clearly the Rose Hill Cemetery didn’t disappear!  Dick remained treasurer of Rose Hill Cemetery Association for more than 40 years. I think he would be pleased to see this meditation garden in a place he and his father both contributed, and in a place where he now rests in peace.

Inspired by the volunteer efforts of my husband and myself,  the next generations of our family continue that tradition of service to Newfield - grandson Jake Moncrief is a volunteer fireman;  daughter Arlene is a trustee for the Methodist Church and is a member of the library board; daughter Maggie is treasurer of Rose Hill Cemetery Association.

Besides all his official duties, Dick also served as a problem-solver — so many people over so many years came to him for help and advice. Dick knew that some problems were just puzzles — they were solvable if you kept a clear mind and thought them through.

But other problems aren't puzzles at all — people already know what the right thing to do is. Sometimes people just needed to hear it from somebody else, to help them get the courage to do the right thing. Dick would help them that way too.

And so I can only imagine how differently will people use this meditation garden. Some people will remember loved ones. Some people will sit for a minute and just enjoy the peace, and listen to birdsong, or listen to children playing in the distance.

But if anyone ever sits here and wonders how they'll get that courage to do the right thing, I hope that somehow, through the power of grace, the spirit of my husband might be able to help them.

In this way my husband will continue to serve the town and people he loved.

My husband was not unusual in serving his community. Others volunteer in the community, too; volunteering is a valuable and important part of what makes Newfield great. With that in mind, we dedicate this meditation garden as Dick’s last gift to Newfield, in memory of and to honor all those who work to make Newfield a special place to live.

Thank you, so much, my husband -- and all of you for being here. Thank you, and God bless you and God bless this garden.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Medicare is not a benefit - it's a punishment

I retired from Boeing 4 years ago with a decent pension and the ability to get health, vision, and drug coverage at a reduced group rate for pre-Medicare retirees.  The coverage was not free because I had what Boeing terms a "break in service" and I call it my sabbatical but the price was reasonable and rose pretty much with inflation (even though my pension does not).  Boeing exercises its buying power to get that price and I appreciate that I could not do better as an individual.

Well, as of today, because I become 65 on September 30th, I am on Medicare, whether I want to be or not.  The government requires it because I have taken my social security benefits.  I thought it would be no big deal - I would transfer over to the Boeing Medicare health plan and it might show a little rise in cost.  Hah was I wrong!   First off, the Boeing Medicare is a supplemental plan that reduces what coverage I already have (even taking into account Medicare coverage) and costs about $100 more a month.

Then I start getting the bad news from Medicare itself.  I knew I would be paying about $99 a month because I was taking the supplement coverage but I didn't know about the IRMAA surcharges.  They look back at your federal taxes from 2 years ago (2010) and place a surcharge if your income level is above a certain amount.  Well in 2010 I took some 401K money out to pay off some of the costs of the house renovation so I have to pay a monthly surcharge.  Yikes.  My income today is not enough close to that level.

And just to pile on the indignities,  today I find out that because I have chosen a medicare supplement plan which helps with prescription costs, I have another surcharge to pay.

Oh, and, of course, I feel better because the Social Security website says this only affects about five percent of those receiving Medicare.  [BLEEP].

I know that those individuals who hit the prescription cost "donut" hole have it much worse.  I just didn't expect that going on Medicare would double my health insurance costs and leave me with worse coverage.  I feel punished for being sensible with my money.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Plants and benches

In between the 4 downpours yesterday, the landscapers installed most of the plants and the benches for the meditation garden in memory of my father.  Still need the memorial stone to be mounted in concrete and two thundercloud plum trees to be planted off to the side.  These will be small but balance off the 300 year old white oak tree providing shade.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Meditation Garden in progress

My Mom is donating a meditation garden in memory of my father to the  local cemetery.  My father was treasurer for more than 35 years.  The area for seating is shown in the photos here, with the pavers just installed this morning. 

The process for a freestanding paved area is to dig out a space, lay down heavy landscape fabric, apply crushed rock or concrete, apply decomposed granite, tamp those layers down well, lay down the pavers in the shape and pattern you want, apply concrete around the outside edge to keep the pavers from shifting, brush in sand between the pavers, and then tamp down the pavers.  The finishing touch is to water down the pavers and see the colors all reappear.    We also made sure to create a concrete ramp to bridge from the height of the ground to the paver top, which will make it easier access for a wheel chair or walker.

The hardscape work was down by Birchwood Design.  Next up is plants, trees, bulbs, and benches.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Little boy smile

Age claims us all.  Even those with a little boy smile as my cousin spoke at his celebration service at the Dorchester Methodist Church on Saturday.  We were all sad but so glad his smile and good nature had warmed our lives.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Early daffodils bring a smile to my 1st post-op anniversary

Daffodils always put a smile on my face because when my son was born, his father brought me daffodils as a celebration.  So, it is appropriate that they are blooming early here in New Jersey this year on this day, as I am already smiling.  It was one year ago today that the cardiac surgeons of Penn Presbyterian replaced my faulty aortic valve and gave me a new outlook for my life.  So smile with me and raise a glass to help pay tribute to their skill if you can.  I am sure they have saved and improved many lives, not just mine.  Thanks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Valentine Gift to each and every person on the planet (and off too!)

Valentine's Day is usually touted as a holiday for lovers but for years I have struggled against that idea.  Actually since elementary school, since each classmate had to provide a valentine card for every other classmate.  Such inconsistency awakens rebellious thoughts even in six-year-olds, I assure you.  So, as an adult, I have often sent valentine cards to friends and family members as well as whomever was my current romantic partner.  And, of course, I have had to explain in the cards to friends that I am sending them a valentine out of an impulse that Valentine's Day is just not for lovers. 

With all the hypersensitivity about same sex attraction, the word "love" is just something you say now to your significant other, your parents, your siblings, and, if you have them, your children and grandchildren. Or, you "love, love, love" some expensive consumer item like a car or a cashmere coat. What a waste of a perfectly good four letter word and feeling.

So for several days, I have been thinking about how I could justify sending a miniscule bit of love to everyone on the planet (and off) when that list includes those individuals who have been incredibly, terribly inhumane to others.  How could I believe they deserved even a teensy measure of love?  The answer came to me last night as I was watching a cheesy but cute Hallmark Movie.  The writers had the Cupid character say, in effect, that no one deserves love, love is a gift from the person expressing it.  Problem solved. 

Here goes.  I am sending out a teeny-tiny gift of love for every human being.  Please add this gift to the store of love you already have in your heart/soul no matter how meager or little you sense it.  You may even find that if you pass it along to someone else, that bit of love shines brighter in your own life.

Happy Valentine's Day Every One!