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The Veteran and Other Heroes

19 Jan

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

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The veteran’s story started many years ago, but I will start when I met him last spring. I was working my regular shift at the crisis center when I noticed a man hanging around the center.  He never got called in to be helped, and was there all morning.  He looked like any other bedraggled and unshaven client down on his luck.  Finally, he came over and walked behind the front counter.  I said, “You can’t come back here, you have to wait out front.”

“But I’m working here,” he said.”

I discovered that he was volunteering as a security guard.  Our clientele has exploded this past year, and we are so busy and crowded that the administration decided there was a need for some help with minor problems and crowd control in the waiting area and parking lot.  He showed up and wanted to help because this was the first place he came for help when he was down and out.  And the Vet’s story began to unfold.

He was a serviceman whose parachute failed during a jump and he ended up with permanent damage to his legs, along with other injuries.  He was disabled and discharged. His marriage had ended in divorce, so not only was his body broken, but his mind and his spirit were too.  He could see nowhere to go, no solutions and no means or reason to continue living. He showed me pictures of what he called his home.  Lost and lonely, he had ended up living for years in a crate down by the Arkansas River with just enough space for a pallet and a camp stove. It was neatly organized, with a little shelf for his meager food, but the pictures and his story made me want to cry.

After eleven years of this living hell, God sent him an angel. She worked for the VA, but not just as an employee.  She actually went out to look for these broken vets where they lived.  She came to his camp one day, got down in the mud with him and said “I am going to help you.”  She came back with some papers from the VA and said, “I have a place for you to live.”  And thus began his rehabilitation and transition back to life in a civilized world. He was sent to our crisis center, where he got food, clothes, hygiene items, and a reason to start to live again. After months of treatment, he was back on his feet, still facing surgery and treatment, but healing in mind and spirit.

Now he and two other compassionate veterans are at the crisis center every day volunteering their services. They have made connections in the community and in churches to help other people in dire need.  They know what to do and how to help because they have been there. They have turned many lives around by their presence and helpfulness. This Christmas they were a big part of our special Christmas outreach project, in which we procured supplies, toys, books and entertainment for the needy. These humble, helpful men became Santa and elves to the clients and their families, bringing smiles, laughter and love to those who need it most.

A man came into the center the other day, and tearfully asked: “Do you help with heat?  I just need some propane to heat my place.”  We chatted a little and he informed me that he was out of a job, he lost his house and all his belongings, and now he lived in a trailer behind some building. I was devastated by his situation. He finally said “I’m at the end of my rope, I’ve lost everything, and I can’t afford propane to heat my trailer. I am a veteran, if that means anything.”

“We can help you,” I said with a relieved smile. I called one of our vets over and told him the man needed his help. I knew they’d take him through the line for food, clothes, hope, and so much more. When he left with his arms loaded, he was smiling through his tears.

“Thank You,” he said quietly

Oh yes, and as for my vet friend.  He spent Christmas with his entire family for the first time in 15 years!   Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

 

Tin Cup

3 Dec

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

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Tin Cup is a very special place.  It is a unique, old fashioned little mining town in Gunnison County, Colorado.  I’m not sure if anyone lives there year round, but the old homes and cabins are all occupied in the summer.

I love their cemetery most of all.  A little creek runs through it and you have to cross over some little hills and a little bridge and follow a little path to reach the different parts of the cemetery.

One hill is Jewish, one Protestant, one Catholic, and then the last one is Boot Hill the final resting place of criminals and nondenominationals. The unique graves and tombstones are fabulous.  Famous people, infamous persons and paupers are all buried there.  One man’s grave had a stump at the head of it with an old tin cup sitting on top.  I’ve seen the cup every time I’ve visited the cemetery. I’m sure almost everyone who passes by has picked it up and set it back down again.

In the cemetery, up a long hill, we saw a single gravestone inside a rail fence, so we walked up the hill to look at it. The name on it was Kate Fisher. Later we heard her story. She had been the only black person in town, she had fed and sheltered the community in her rooming house, but the cemetery was segregated, so she had to be buried alone. She was well-loved and revered, so I like to think her grave was above the others because she was so special to the miners.

The old jailhouse is still there. Someone bought it and made it into a home.  The bars are still on the windows of the tiny cabin.  We took a picture of it when we were there, but that has been at least a couple of years ago.  I don’t know where the picture would be.

There is a legend about how Tin Cup was named:  A man dipped a tin cup in the stream and discovered gold-dust and sand at the bottom of the cup.   I bet you could find something at the library or on the internet.  There is a beautiful lily pond on the other side of the town, just a little way from the main (dirt) road.  You have to know where it is to find it, as you can’t see it from the road.  I love this place.

Please see pictures at http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/Tin Cup.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fair View

20 Oct

 

A Fair View…From a Volunteer

By Patricia Franklin

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DiVoran:

Our guest blogger, Patricia Franklin and her husband volunteered at the Colorado State Fair this year. These are her observations as seen in the Publication of Pikes Peak Citizens for Life newsletter:

I have been a volunteer at the  Pike’s Peak Citizens for Life booth for several years and would like to express what a positive impact it has had on visitors. This year, in fact, the display seemed to impress many people.

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For more fetal baby models see:

http://www.hh76.org/details.aspx?prod_id=1333

Men, women, families, teens, and children were all interested in the display. The children loved the models and loved seeing how a baby grows. Boys as well as girls, asked to hold the 12 week models. Pregnant moms were excited to see how big their own babies were. I was particularly surprised and heartened by the number of men who commented, thanked, and encouraged us.

A man approached the booth, picked up a couple of 12 week models, and handed them to his two teenaged girls. I gave them a brochure, he pointedly said to them, “Read that!” as he handed me a donation.

One young man came up with several of his friends, saw the models and repeated excitedly, “My baby is 11 weeks old! My baby is 11 weeks old!” He hurried back to find his wife and brought her over to look at the baby models. His friends thoroughly enjoyed his outburst and enthusiasm.

Some men had tears in their eyes. One man with his wife and two teenage sons stopped, looked, and tearfully said, “I thank God every day for my sons.”

Several people asked, “How can anyone abort a baby,” or commented, “God bless you for your work.” Some from past years stopped by to give a donation.

The video stopped people in their tracks. Even mothers who already had children were excited and surprised that the baby in the film was opening its mouth, yawning, and sucking its thumb right in the womb.

A couple of men and a woman hurried up just as we were closing for the evening. They thanked us, took our hands, and prayed with us.

There’s really no other public venue where people have access to this type of information, and they are so pleased and grateful that it’s right out there for them to see and share with family and friends.

I just wanted you to know what an impact Pike’s Peak Citizens for Life have made on people’s lives. For me it is a blessing to be a small part of this experience.

List of Pro-Life Organizations.

 

 

 

Hummy Hummingbird

25 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

My husband and I spent a few days this past week in Raleigh, North Carolina visiting family and eating way too much good food. Since we returned home, I have been busy catching up as well as wandering aimlessly.  Fortunately, our guest blogger, Patricia Franklin  sent a story that I am posting today. I feel better missing my posting day if I can share something good. Enjoy- Onisha

Patricia Franklin

A Few Thoughts

 

I just had a quick story to tell you.  We got home last night and I noticed the hummingbird feeder was out of juice.  I wasn’t going to put any more out, as it draws the hornets and they fight with the hummingbird to get it.  Also, it is getting to the end of the season.  But, I was standing at the patio door this morning, about 6 feet away from the feeder, which hangs right in front of my window over the sink.  Little Hummy came up to the patio window and buzzed around several times right in front of my face.  I was a little startled and thought “Is she trying to tell me something?”  I went about my work in the kitchen and went over to the sink to start the dishes.  She came flying over and was buzzing around the feeder.  I watched her and suddenly she came up to the window over the sink and flew around in front of my face again.  I said to myself, “She really does know where the food comes from, and is telling me she is hungry.”  There are fewer flowers around now, so she is looking for food. Guess she does not mind fighting with the hornets.  I sit outside frequently in my chair next to the feeder, and I know she keeps an eye on it because occasionally another hummingbird will come, and she is immediately there to chase it away.  So I made up some juice and hung it out there. She has been back about six times already today.

 

Hummingbird

 

I loved this story. I do believe that hummingbirds communicate with us humans. We have had them fly from the feeder to hover in front of us as though saying “thank you.” One summer my husband put his camera on the tripod and took some great photos we treasure. Here is one of them-Onisha

 

DSC_1203

 

Do you have any hummingbird stories or photos?  If so, it would be fun if you shared them in comments.

The Robin Story

21 Jul

Patricia Franklin

A Few Thoughts

I think I mentioned that the mother robin left a little egg shell by my door.  Since that time, I noticed she had two babies.  I watched them both and worried that they had left the nest too soon.  She tried to keep them in the branches of the lilac bush.  The young one pretty much listened to her, the other one was a little more independent.  (I’m using my imagination here).
One morning I went out and found one of them dead on the back lawn.  It did not look damaged, so I did not know what got to it…. either a cat or a very angry black bird??   It seemed to be the bigger one that was dead.  I kept track of the little one, who thrived, and learned to fly pretty well.  He discovered our birdbath, and loved it.  Whenever he got in it, he had so much fun he did not want to leave.  He would splash around, then just lay there, then kept repeating it.  He was fun to watch, as he loved it so much. Then he would fly up on the fence and shake out his feathers.  No other bird has ever spent that much time bathing there.

I lost track of the birds for about 3 or 4 weeks while we were gone, and busy running around.  Several times since, I have  seen birds in the back, and several were robins with the spots on their breasts, so I knew they were brand new in the neighborhood.

This morning, I was sitting outside and there were quite a few birds around, some still being fed by their mamas.  Then a robin flew into the birdbath and splashed and played for the longest time.  I was sure it was the one from our lilac, especially when he finally got out and flew on the fence to shake out his feathers.  I noticed he was bigger, but still had some of his baby spots.  I’m sure it was him, and I hope he will be our neighbor for a long time to come. I think I’ll always recognize him by his antics in the birdbath.

 

From Flickr

Do Birds Bond with People? 

27 May

 A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

 Our friend Patricia Franklin wrote me this week. Here’s what she had to say about the robin that nests in her back yard-DiVoran

robins

Sorry I have not answered your newsy letter…. and thanks so much for the interesting article on birds!  I guess they live and thrive by instinct, but I think they have a built in intelligence too, that we do not understand.  I think I mentioned that we have a robin’s nest in our back yard.  I have been waiting and watching for a couple of weeks for the 1st hatchling.  I usually sit out on the patio chair, I water my flowers, etc. and sometimes I talk to the robins if they are around.  They have found out that we do not bother them, in fact, I chased some intruders away the other day.  Do you think they bond with us in some way?   Here is what happened today.

We were sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea after supper, with the patio door open, when I heard this scratching and tapping on the patio cement right outside.  I turned my head, and there right in front of the door was the mother robin tapping a little blue eggshell on the cement.  I got up and walked over to the door and said something like, ” Well, I have been wondering when you were going to hatch the first one.  I’m so happy for you.”  She actually strutted around, back and forth in front of me for a little while and then went flying off to her nest, leaving the eggshell for us.  Is that uncanny or what?  Am I reading too much into this?  I do feel a bond with them, and maybe they feel it too. It was the highlight of my weekend!  (Hey, I’m pretty simple and easy to please!)

Colorado Adventures

22 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites

and

Patricia Franklin 

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Patricia and I have been corresponding for years. We first met when she was in first grade, just before she was promoted to second and moved one aisle over to the second grade aisle where we five second graders sat. She got promoted because she was the only child in the first grade, and because she was smart. It was my first time in that school because my family had recently moved to town. This letter starts where my last blog, “Shelf Roads,” left off. I liked the extra details she shared so thought I would pass them on.

DiVoran

 The Altmans started coming to our school after the consolidation. (Before that they had gone to a small country school closer to their ranch. The consolidation was when all the students from valley schools were bussed to town.)

Marjorie and I were friends in high school, and we actually were roommates our first year in college in Gunnison.  They had a ranch at the foot of the range, near Alvarado, (a mountain meadow where the community had field days and picnics). We used to go horseback riding on the trails up there. That was so much fun.

One time we came upon this old cabin.  We looked inside a broken window and something white moved inside.  We screamed and ran, then went back to look again.  It was a white goat, and was inside standing in the middle of the bed. The cabin was old and still furnished.  The cupboards had been taken over by rats and any other creature that could get inside.  I guess it had been abandoned, as everything in it was a mess.  We never did find out who the owner was, or what happened after that.  Although, I remember my Dad had me write up an article for the Wet Mountain Tribune about the adventure, and it was on the front page of the paper.  We sure had some great, fun adventures in those times.

There is a shelf road between Canon City and Cripple Creek.  It is named the Shelf Road and is used a lot.  It has been closed various times, due to rock slides and erosion, but is still one of the main roads up there.  That and the Phantom Canyon Road are the two most used from Highway 50 to Cripple Creek I would say.  I have not been up those roads for a few years, but I love them.   After driving all over the “jeep roads” in the San Juan and Gunnison mountains, I do not mind them anymore.  We have been on some very narrow and scary roads, but I love it so much, I got over my worst fears.

I still do not like being on the edge and looking down though.  Once Frank and I had to pull way over to the side because some 4 wheelers were coming down and would not move over.  (As we were going up, we were supposed to have the right of way).  Our Jeep was so close to the edge, I could see the pebbles falling out from under the tires and rolling down the mountainside. And there was a pickup upside down about 1000 feet down.  Now, that was scary!!😕 One time we started up that road when it was raining. A lightning bolt hit a nearby mountain, and then some rocks started rolling down the side of the mountain above us.  Needless to say, we backed down and did not make the trip that day.

The Shelf Road from Canon City to Cripple Creek

 

God’s Helping Hands

12 Jan

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

It’s a frigid December day, a week before Christmas. People are lined up outside and we’re getting ready to open the crisis center. Every time I come there are more people to serve, and the board has had to introduce strict, new rules. I see 12 large colorful grocery bags in the back of the room, filled with age-appropriate toys. Our leader explains, “These are for needy families who have no toys. They were given to us by a woman and her family who recently lost her father, and around the same time, a new baby.”

A worker unlocks the door and people file in. We begin the process of finding their files and sending them down the line so we can help fill their basic needs. I work quickly, but then an elderly man stops to chat, and I pause to listen.

Homeless man“See how they fixed me up at the hospital.” He lifts his dirty, ragged shirt and shows me a long, clean bandage across his chest. “I have these other scars, too.” And he shows them to me. “Those doctors and nurses saved my life,” he says. He walks away with a smile on his face. He was already experiencing a great Christmas and his gratitude was deep and real. Yes!

Another man stops and says, “I was here not too long ago, but now I need socks.”

“You can only come in once a month.” I say, as I look at my partner to confirm.

“I’m getting him some socks,” she answers quickly and quietly, Even though we do not work in the clothing area, she stops her routine and goes to there. When she comes back, she surreptitiously hands him a small bag. Later, a woman comes in with a donation: a large trash bag filled with….socks. Yes!

A woman asks me for size 12 shoes for her husband. “They didn’t have any last time I was here,” she said. The clothing worker tells me to go look on the shoe rack. I look for what seems like a long time. Suddenly I spot a large pair of good black shoes on the top rack. I stand on tiptoe to bring them down and sure enough, they are marked size 12. Yes!

My feet hurt, but I have no time to sit down. A young man comes up and with his head lowered so that I can hardly hear him, “I’ve never been here before.” I ask for ID and proof that he lives in our county. This doesn’t happen to be one of the centers for the homeless and these proofs are mandatory. He has ID, but no proof of address. I go to the computer lady. “He is not in the system, we cannot help him till he brings proof.”

“But Ma’am this is kind of an emergency,” he whispers to me. “My wife just left me with the kids and I don’t have anything for them.”

“Let me ask my supervisor,” I say.

“He needs to show proof,” she sighs, and I suppose she is tired too. I hesitate to go back and tell the man we can’t help him, so I wait a moment hoping she’ll come up with a solution. To give her time I go back to the counter, but I hear her say loudly, “You have to have proof.” I am disappointed, but she walks past me and whispers, “Go ahead and send him through.” Yes!

I can’t stop thinking about him, however. I’m afraid he’ll be rushed through without getting everything he needs. I sneak back to the interview station and see him with a new interviewer. I won’t interrupt, but before I walk away I hear her say: “And what about Christmas, do you have any toys for the kids?” Later, I see him walk by with a big grocery sack full of Christmas toys, headed for the clothing room. I know his next stop will be the food station and they’ll take good care of him there. Yes!

We are busy at the crisis center on this day, in the week before Christmas, but I love to be here because we see so many good people helping others and so many God-incidents to thrill and surprise us.

 

Smiles

27 Oct

1

 

A word from DiVoran

 Because I remember her brothers from our childhood, I particularly loved this email from my friend, Patricia. Sometimes I was invited for supper at the Franklins and it was a world of difference from eating in a restaurant-booth with my one younger brother, though I do love my brother. Patricia had five brothers– riches indeed! What I liked most about them was that they were so sweet and funny. Patricia and I were in our eleventh and twelfth years and her bothers ranged from about eight to sixteen. Patricia has always been petite, but she never had any trouble handling all those boys and even enjoying being with them.

Now I’ll let you get to Patricia’s story

Patricia

I went to the funeral of a friend this week.  She was always relaxed, pleasant, and friendly no matter what, and had a wonderful sense of humor.  She was also a leader, planner, and song leader in our prayer group. She had suffered from cancer, and knew the end was near.  She planned the simple service, including the songs.  It was very simple and wonderful.  I also noticed she, in her witty little way, included some readings for her family. I smiled through the whole service and whenever I think of her, I have to smile.  I understood that her last words to the pastor were: “Well, father, see you in heaven.” The pastor smiled, I’m sure.

Today, we went to a breakfast in the social room at the church my friend had attended.  On the way in, we met a widower we know, and asked him to sit with us.  As I was looking around, I saw my friend’s brother by himself (the brother of the lady who died).  I motioned for him to join us. A smile lit up his face and he hurried over.  Another widower came in and we gestured for him to come over too.  The four of us enjoyed some great stories together.

When we go to the ranch country where my husband grew up, we go out to meals or coffee with several of his lifelong friends. A lot of times I’m the only woman. We have a lot to talk about. One time they were trying to recall something and the suggestion came: “We should ask the old-timersWe are the Old Timers.” Everybody smiled that time.

I’ve often felt left out because we didn’t live where either of us had grown up. That’s what gives me the tendency to look for others who might be alone too.  At breakfast that day, I turned around and saw another parishioner eating alone, so I invited him to come and sit with us. We were all enjoying getting better acquainted and sharing stories.   About that time, a woman dressed as a nurse came up and speaking directly to me said, “You and your five men come on over to the health fair across the parking lot. It is free.”  I was startled the way she said it, but then I had to smile.  Yes, I always seem to end up with a bunch of guys, I have since I was a kid, and didn’t think a thing about it.  I don’t know what she was thinking.   I was just thinking how people do not seem to smile much anymore, and had decided to make a special effort to make it happen. When it does, it’s heavenly, and none of us feel lonely anymore.

 

 

 

Fair Babies

8 Sep

Our friend, Patricial Franklin is sharing today. Welcome back, Patricia!

Fair Babies

Patricia Franklin

I’m working the Pro-Life booth at the Fair. It is a lot of fun, and the children and adults love the baby dolls on display. Don’t know if you have ever seen them, but they are soft replicas of 12 weeks and up of what babies in the womb look and feel like. They feel the same, weigh the same, etc.  The kids love to hold them.  Last year a family came by — first the Dad came strolling by with two seven year old girls.  He walked on and the girls stopped to hold the babies.  The mother came up struggling with a baby stroller in the crowd, saw the girls, stopped, and shouted: “PUT THE BABIES DOWN AND BACK AWAY!! I looked at her and started to back away myself. The girls giggled, put the babies down and ran to catch up with their Dad. The exhausted mother stopped for a minute and told us the baby in the strollers was the first one she’d had in seven years and it was hard work. She said “And now I have to try to explain THIS to my girls!! Meaning pro-life. Then she stopped, relaxed, we both smiled and I said, ‘I’m sure you will do just fine.” I have thought about that so many times this year, and every time I have to smile… especially at her words … BACK AWAY, which is usually what you hear in the movies as a fierce warning.

I have never had a bad experience. Sometimes a few people will try to start an argument, but it just kind of dies on their lips and they either walk away, or we have a pleasant conversation about babies. Most people are very friendly and talkative and will often tell you the story of their lives. It used to be that people would walk by and try to ignore us, or they would act embarrassed. But something was very different last year. So many people stopped and talked to us. Many had never seen the replicas before, and I was surprised at this. Some came up and picked the dolls up and cradled them like they were alive. I was surprised by many young men who came by. One, who had on a ragged shirt and wore an earring said, “Oh, I love these! I want one of the babies!” He did not fit the stereotype of what you would expect by the way he was dressed. He was with some other young people. He got one from us, and several of his friends came back and bought some of the little 12 week replicas. They were apparently students and very pro-life. This would give them some help talking to their opposing students.

I have helped in the library at the Catholic School for years.  It is only one day a week.  We basically just check books in and out…. and read to the kindergarteners.  It keeps me in touch with the younger generation.

It is amazing how you get the feeling of people’s reactions even before they speak to you. Last year a young lady came and stood across the aisle from us for a long time, looking at our booth. Whenever I tried to catch her eye, she would look the other way. I got the feeling she would like some information, but did not want to talk to us. So I gave my attention to someone who came by. While I was busy, she came over to the end of the counter and picked up a brochure and walked off with it. My thought and prayer was instinctively “I hope you will save the baby.” I was almost certain that she or someone she knew was pregnant and did not know what to do about it.

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