The Big Five-0

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(Remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

Mary sat on a couch in front of the fireplace in the COHOPE dayroom, a quilt wrapped around her shoulders.  Hymns emanating from a local radio station anchored the atmosphere with a calm sense of security.   It was Monday, Januay 21, 1985.

Outside the weather was bitter.  The coldest air mass in 86 years had the entire eastern third of the country in its grip.  Heeding weather forecasts, Hugh had spent the weekend making sure the water pipes under the building were protected, and the heating system working properly.  He had brought in extra firewood.  Mary and the cooks had made sure the pantry was stocked.  There was no storm associated with this air mass, just bitter, cold temperatures.

They had not picked up the day students because of the weather.  To conserve heat, they closed off the classrooms and everyone gathered in the dayroom.  The morning became a cozy time games, songs, stories, and “family” bonding.  After lunch, the students returned to their rooms for a rest period.  Some staff members left early.  Mary found it an ideal time for reminiscing.

Putting dfor own her Bible and journaling notebook, she leaned back and closed her eyes.  On days like this it seems like spring will never come.  She thought back to her childhood days on the dairy farm, and the warmth of the wood-burning stove in the kitchen of the old house, whose soul was rooted in the log cabin that had spawned it.

Mary’s thoughts turned to hers and Hugh’s fiftieth wedding anniversary coming up in May.  She remembered the vows they had wrapped around their lives standing before an elderly minister in her parents’ living room.  “I, Hugh, take you, Mary…I, Mary, take you, Hugh…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…until death….”

She wished she could whip out an album of wedding photos to remember everything, but there was none.  Why didn’t we think to have someone take pictures of the wedding? Dad Harris had a 16mm camera he loved to use…it doesn’t make sense.  I guess we were just in a hurry to get our lives going!

She thought about the journey she and Hugh had shared across these years.  We’ve had our share of both the better and the worse, she thought.  In the beginning, their resources were scarce, yet they felt like they owned the world.  Now we have so much to be thankful for…this place and the mission God has called us to fulfill.  Paying the bills had become stressful at times as they awaited influx of support.  It was humbling.  Thank you, Lord, for keeping us going!

Mary opened her eyes, got up and added a log to the fire, then fell back into her thoughts.  She felt especially thankful for the good health she and Hugh had experienced for five decades.  There had been a few glitches, to be sure.  She recalled the time Hugh had left early for a sales trip to North Carolina.  Suddenly he felt a pain so severe he had to stop the car.  It wouldn’t let up, so he turned around and drove back to Harrisonburg where he went directly to the emergency room at Rockingham Memorial Hospital.

She remembered the phone awakening her.  Picking up the receiver, she struggled to say something coherent.  The caller sounded urgent.

“Mary, this is Dr. Hearn.  I called to tell you Hubert is sick.  He has a kidney stone.”

She was awake now.  “Oh!  Well, does he know it?”

“Of course.  He’s lying here in a lot of pain.  Hurry up and get in here.”

Dr. Hearn,a friend as well as their doctor, was a supporter of COHOPE.  He performed surgery, and Hugh spent a couple of days in the hospital recuperating.  In recent years he’d developed some back trouble and had begun sleeping in a recliner chair instead of a bed.  There was no recliner in the room, and none available in the hospital.  True to form, he solved the problem…by having his own recliner brought in from home.

That’s Hugh!  No obstacle is too great…he always finds a solution.

Her mind drifted to her own hospitalization when Dr. Hearn sent her to the emergency room with dehydration.  It was about eleven o’clock at night, and they assigned her to a room that had been occupied by an unruly, intoxicated man.  He had kicked out the window before they subdued him, and removed him to another section of the hospital. Maintenance replaced the window temporarily with a sheet of cardboard taped to the frame, but it let in cold air.  Mary remembered receiving IV’s while huddled under blankets, trying to keep warm.  She shivered at the thought.  I think that’s the coldest I’ve ever been.

There had been some other hospital stays under much better conditions.  The causes included a hemorrhoidectomy, hysterectomy, and a abdominal tumor they thought was cancerous.  Surgery proved it was benign, but she spend several inpatient weeks while they searched for blood with platelets to match hers.  It was an ordeal!  She signed. Nothing, though, compared to what I’ve seen others experience.  Mary was stirred from her reverie by the sounds of people stirring about.  Rest time was over.

Such was one brief day in the midst of winter that soon morphed into spring.  In the background of that wintry day were preparations her family was making to create a special celebration for their mother and dad.  The anniversary would fall on a Sunday, so they planned a three-part celebration.

Finally May 5th rolled around.  The celebration began at Keezletown United Methodist Church.  All four of their family was there, including grandchildren.  Congregation members overflowed with joyful greetings.  They were in the sanctuary of the new church built some years earlier, after the merger of the two churches Mary had noticed the night she arrived in town.  The service was structured around the theme of marriage.

A retired pastor, and close friend of the Harrises, Reverend Frank Baker, was the guest speaker.   As he concluded his sermon he said, “Mary and Hugh have asked to renew their wedding vows this morning.  If there are other couples who would like to join them, please come to the altar rail.”

Many couples responded.  Mary and Hugh faced each other, joined hands, engaged each other’s eyes, then repeated the vows.  A warm flood of emotion surged through Mary’s body, finally moistening her eyes with tears of joy.  “I love you,” she whispered to Hugh.   Her words were caressed by the same from him.  All of the challenges, hardships, joys, and fulfillment they had known together were baptized afresh with God’s grace.

After the service, Mary and Hugh, along with their families and a few friends, drove into Harrisonburg where a special meal had been arranged at the Sheraton Hotel.  Following dinner, their four children presented them with a check for $10,588 they had raised to honor their parents.  It was made out to Community of Hope, Inc. to support the project in which their parents had invested so much of themselves.

Later that afternoon, a third piece of the celebration took place with a reception back at the church.  Friends joined family once again to express joy, appreciation, and encouragement.

At the close of the day, Mary and Hugh gave thanks to God for the sensitivity of their family and friends.  They dedicated the check to daily operating needs at COHOPE.  It was a time when financial needs pressed them every day.  Many factors contributed to this.

For one, they had been in operation for fifteen years, during which time laws had been passed to mainstream care for the handicapped in schools, and public accommodations.  Community awareness had progressed to the points where handicapped persons were no longer looked upon as strange, embarrassing, or frightening.  The dairyman’s daughter and her husband had been part of making that happen.

New terminology had emerged.  Their clients were no longer “handicapped, but “developmentally disabled.”–a more inclusive category.  The term effectively communicated who they were.  It also spawned changes in how the community perceived their purpose.  COHOPE was still held in high regard, perhaps higher than ever, but now they had more competition for financial support as new organizations with somewhat similar goals came into being.

To meet the urgent need for support, Hugh made fundraising a daily activity.  Retired now, he frequently drove around the community seeking contributions.  He went to community and church leaders, and often door-to-door.  When his parents died, he received an inheritance which he dedicated solely to Community of Hope.

From this perspective, the “Big Five-0” gift was a high moment for Mary and Hugh–just as renewing their commitment to each other at the altar was a high moment undergirding their life together, and their enduring faith and trust in God.

(Excerpt from “Dairyman’s Daughter,” by Hugh Townsend Harris, based on “Remembering!” by Mary Ellen Townsend Harris)

Achievements and Recognitions

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(Chapter 22, “Dairyman’s Daughter,” remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

The Cybertype machine was only one contribution that came through the link of Community of Hope with Madison College–which became James Madison University in 1977.  The school’s growing reputation for excellence in health services meant Community of Hope had access to cutting edge advances in speech therapy.  When two professors discovered a grant was available in the use of technology to teach people with speech problems, they thought of COHOPE.

Mary and Hugh were excited, but also curious.  They asked one of the professors, “Aren’t there always a lot of people competing for grants that can only go to a few?  How would we go about doing this…I mean, what makes you think COHOPE would have a chance?”

“Of course it’s a competitive process.  We wouldn’t downplay that, yet look what you’ve already built, basically from scratch–a program effectively serving some…

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Achievements and Recognitions

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(Chapter 22, “Dairyman’s Daughter,” remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

The Cybertype machine was only one contribution that came through the link of Community of Hope with Madison College–which became James Madison University in 1977.  The school’s growing reputation for excellence in health services meant Community of Hope had access to cutting edge advances in speech therapy.  When two professors discovered a grant was available in the use of technology to teach people with speech problems, they thought of COHOPE.

Mary and Hugh were excited, but also curious.  They asked one of the professors, “Aren’t there always a lot of people competing for grants that can only go to a few?  How would we go about doing this…I mean, what makes you think COHOPE would have a chance?”

“Of course it’s a competitive process.  We wouldn’t downplay that, yet look what you’ve already built, basically from scratch–a program effectively serving some of the most severely speech impaired people we’ve seen.  We believe, if you focus on that, you can be very competitive.”

Mary pondered his words.  She was drawn to the idea.  “Okay, how would we go about this?  Is there a formula or something we need to follow?”

“Yes. there is a protocol, and we can help you with that.  Most of all, though, grants are awarded on the basis of uniqueness and merit.  Your program already stands out in those areas.”

After further discussion, they decided to give it a try.  Hugh worked hard at learning the “system,” as he called it, for presenting their cause.  They submitted their request and waited.  Finally, the word came–they had, indeed, won a grant.  Mary and Hugh were thrilled.

When the money arrived, they used it to sponsor a Communication Workshop at the Ingleside Resort in nearby Augusta County.  People attended from all around the state.  COHOPE staff members were among them, including two teachers who produced an outstanding project.  They published a book detailing a unique approach to handicapped education that became a resource in the JMU library.

Of special impact was a chapter about an innovation called the “Nine-to-Nine Board.”  This was a chart that could be adapted to the needs, interests, and background of individual students. Through a system of nine different eye movements, handicapped persons could use the chart to communicate.

One COHOPE resident named Melody, was severely handicapped, confined to a wheelchair, and had no speech at all.  Using the technology of the Nine-to-Nine Board, in tandem with a sensitivity fostered by Community of Hope’s faith-based philosophy, the staff tapped into Melody’s bright, active mind that was otherwise masked by her condition.  She learned to communicate her thoughts, needs and wants by casting nine different expressive eye movements.  As a result, she entered a new world of relationships that was thrilling to her…almost like a bird set free from a cage.  

Trough experiences like this, the dairyman’s daughter often realized how far her life had taken her down a path she could never have imagined in her childhood days of cherry tree musings on her grandpa’s farm.  Then there were other times when she learned things through unexpected interactions with her COHOPE family.

Such an experience occurred one day during lunch, which was the primary daily meal where residents, day students, and staff members gathered around the table.  Mary wasn’t always able to be there, but on this particular day she was.  Since Paul needed someone to feed him,   she took that responsibility to free someone else.  On this day she sat next to him, alternating between feeding him, and then herself.

Paul sometimes had difficulty chewing and swallowing, so his food was pureed.  Still, if he was given a second bite too quickly, he could choke.  Over the years Mary fell into a habit of coaching him by saying in a low voice, “Swallow, Paul.  Swallow,  Swallow,”

For some reason Paul suddenly rebelled against her method, as if he couldn’t listen to her coaching any longer  He reared up in his chair, actually standing on his footrests for a few seconds, pulled loose his arm straps and shoulder strap, then turned to his mother and shouted, “Swallow!  Swallow!  Swallow!”  Exhausted, but triumphant, he flopped back into his chair amidst an awkward silence as everyone stopped eating and fastened their gaze on Mary to see how she would react.

She felt equally shocked, but recovered quickly.  Calmly, she refastened all Paul’s straps, then continued eating her own lunch.  She completely ignored Paul for several minutes, then quietly resumed feeding him.  She offered spoonful after spoonful, and he ate as though nothing had happened.  Conversation resumed around the table as everyone got back to their own lunch.  Incident over.

Later that afternoon Mary passed Paul;s room, glanced inside and his eyes met hers.   His facial expression said he wanted her to come in and talk, so she did.

“I…am…ssorry…Mmmo-ther.”  He twisted his head, straining in his chair as he spoke  “I…am…sorry I…BLEW…UP!”  He exhaled deeply as the tension left his body, keeping eye contact.

Mary reached to him, looking into his eyes.  “You had every reason to blow up, Paul, and I’m glad you did.  Thanks for making me put myself in your place and realize what a mistake I’ve been making.”

Paul said nothing more, but his relief was comforting to Mary, as was the beautiful smile that accompanied it.

Life at COHOPE was like that!  It was sometimes full of surprises, always involved learning experiences, was frequently exhausting, and always fulfilling.  Mary would lie down at night, offering thanks to God for everything that was happening in her life.  She would pray for wisdom and strength to continue the journey she had begun the day she married the man of whom her father said, “You’ll never have a dull moment.”

He had been right.  What was also right, she realized, was that without Hugh’s unique talents and temperament, she could never have met the challenges her life had produced.   She gave thanks as she reminisced.

COHOPE truly was a community where hope resided, and became visible in peoples’ lives. Mary and Hugh were often invited to speak before church and civic groups, telling their story. From the beginning, this was natural for Hugh, the salesman who never seemed to meet a stranger.  It was much harder for Mary.  Early on she told him she didn’t think she could do it. His reply was characteristically to the point, couched in a touch of humor.

“Oh,” he said, “just act like you’re talking on the phone.  You never have any trouble with that!”

She smiled to herself remembering this.  His advice had been sound, and she had learned to just relax and be herself in any situation.

Sometimes Mary and Hugh’s efforts brought formal public recognition.  Every year the Exchange Club in Harrisonburg presented a “Golden Deeds” award to someone in the community.  One year Hugh was given that award in recognition of his devotion to the cause of helping where he saw a need.

Because of her work with COHOPE, Mary was invited to join the Pilot Club of Harrisonburg. This was an organization for women comparable to the Rotary Club.  The group took interest in their members for the kind of services they provided through charitable organizations. Mary remembered warmly the honor she felt when the club presented her with the Salvation Army’s “Others” award for her work at COHOPE.  She was the second person in Harrisonburg to be given this award.

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Mary cherished all of these experiences.  Her life became a treasure chest of accomplishments focused on others,  She felt blessed and deeply fulfilled

(Excerpt from “Dairyman’s Daughter,” by Hugh Townsend Harris, based on “Remembering!” by Mary Ellen Townsend Harris.)

One Step at a Time

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( Author’s Note:  This is Chapter 21 in my Dairyman’s Daughter manuscript drafts.  My last posting several weeks ago was titled, “A Bold Undertakomg,” and described Mary and her husband Hubert building a residential school for developmentally disabled adults called Community of Hope, Inc. (COHOPE).  This chapter moves the story  forward as COHOPE goes into daily operation.)

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Bible study at COHOPE

(Remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

The only way to take on a bold venture is to handle it one step at a time.  Each day became part of a learning curve for Mary and Hugh as they launched COHOPE into daily operation. Encountering constant challenges tested their resolve, and opened them to new talents they hadn’t realized they possessed.

Once they had things going, the challenge was to make the facility visible.  They reached out to the community by extending invitations for groups to visit, get to know…

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One Step at a Time

( Author’s Note:  This is Chapter 21 in my Dairyman’s Daughter manuscript drafts.  My last posting several weeks ago was titled, “A Bold Undertakomg,” and described Mary and her husband Hubert building a residential school for developmentally disabled adults called Community of Hope, Inc. (COHOPE).  This chapter moves the story  forward as COHOPE goes into daily operation.)

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Bible study at COHOPE

(Remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

The only way to take on a bold venture is to handle it one step at a time.  Each day became part of a learning curve for Mary and Hugh as they launched COHOPE into daily operation. Encountering constant challenges tested their resolve, and opened them to new talents they hadn’t realized they possessed.

Once they had things going, the challenge was to make the facility visible.  They reached out to the community by extending invitations for groups to visit, get to know the students, and experience a brief time in their lives.

“So, what do y’all do out here?” asked the leader of a visiting church group from a nearby town.

Mary told them about Paul’s experience with CP, and how she and Hugh had come to start COHOPE.  “For most resident’s, this is their first experience living away from home.  We work with each individual’s personal circumstances and needs.  We want to develop a trusting relationship that will allow them to feel comfortable, so they can benefit from what we offer.  I think you’ll see how that works as we go along.”

They were standing outside the rear entrance on the upper level of the building.  Mary opened a double door, motioning them inside to a wide hallway lined with doors. “We’ll start with one of our resident rooms,” she said outside a door decorated with artwork and the name of a female occupant whom Mary said was not in at the time.

 The group filed inside.  A warm glow greeted them as sunshine brightened the room through a double window that looked across a field toward the Massanutten Mountain peak.  Bird feeders and landscaping outside the window seemed to bring the outdoors inside.  There was a quilt on the bed, pictures on the walls, and other furnishings the resident had brought with her.  

“As you can see, we do everything we can to make this feel like home.”

Mary gestured toward a large bathroom with a tile floor next to a walk-in closet. In place of a door was a curtain that could be drawn for privacy.  Everything was designed around the needs of someone in a wheelchair.  Even the shower entrance was barrier free.

“It must take several staff members to care for each person,” remarked one of the visitors.  “Isn’t that expensive?”

“Yes, it is…but that goes along with what this facility is all about.  As you know, we’re funded by donations, grants, and bequests.  It takes a lot to meet each day’s expenses, and no gift is ever too small.  Hugh and I take no salary for our work.”

The group members posed more questions as they left the room and moved down the hall toward a dayroom.  With its comfortably rustic furnishings, the room almost felt like a mountain lodge.  To their left was a fireplace framed by double windows.  To their right was a door with a sign indicating it accessed a staircase leading to the lower level. A large mural depicted a peaceful lake scene, and a door next to the mural offered entrance to another room.

 Directly across from them was a refrigerator, sink, and kitchen-style cabinets.  Mary explained how meals were prepared on the lower level and delivered upstairs by use of a dumbwaiter.  A long, wheelchair-accessible table dominated much of the space where they stood.  There was also a piano, and a nurse’s station.  An audio tape was playing soft music in the background.  The linoleum floor was spotlessly clean.  A faint aroma of food being prepared drifted up to them.

Mary went on with her expanations.  “Our housemothers and aides handle housekeeping duties, and each staff member has been trained to assist those who need help with eating.  You may have noticed the housemother’s door back up the hall when we came in.  We feature ‘family’ activities here in this room, and once each month a Christian man comes in to lead a Bible study.  We believe he is planting seeds that will be a blessing to our students now, as well as when they move on from here.”

People nodded and talked among themselves as they walked around  “You didn’t say anything about this,” said one woman, pointing to the nurse’s station.  “I don’t see a nurse…do you have one?”  

“No, but we can get instant access to medical assistance if needed.  Our staff members are all trained to give first aid, and to assess needs beyond that.  The housemothers make sure the residents get their medications.”

“So, how much staff do you have?”

“There are two housemothers who rotate three days on and three off.  If something prevents one of them coming in, I fill in for her.  There are two housemother aides who also work three days on and three off.  Two orderlies come in early to get the male residents up and ready for breakfast, and then drive one of the vans to pick up day students.  We also have two cooks who rotate shifts, and two people in the office.”

“Wow!  This is all so complex, how did you and your husband learn to set up and manage all of it?”

“Hugh is good at organizing.  He’s a problem-solver and a builder.  He knows how to put things together.  We also prayed, and did a lot of reading and research.  It’s been a one-step-at-a-time process, and we have trusted God to show us the way.  He’s never failed us.”

“It sounds to me like this is your whole life,” said one of the women.

“It is!  It’s just like parenting…it’s full-time work.  Actually, it’s not work at all.  It’s a way of life.  We live in our own house and our children and grandchildren come to visit. They all love coming up to COHOPE, and our residents love having them.”

“Hmmm.  Seems like a lot of work, and expense for such a small number of people,” noted another group member.  “How many residents do you have?”

“At present we have four of the six residents we are equipped to handle, and seven day students.  So we have room to grow.  We take our time with each new person, getting to know them, and helping them get acclimated.   I’m sure you noticed the two large vans outside when you arrived.  We bus our day students in and take them home each day. And, we have a waiting list, so we know there’s a great need for what we offer.”

Next Mary took the group into the classroom beyond the mural wall.  There were tables, cabinets for different purposes, blackboards, and bookshelves.  The room was wallpapered and the windows had drapes to match the decor.   A closed door connected to another room where a class was in progress.

“What do you teach?”

“We do speech therapy, physical therapy, and academic classes.  It’s all one-on-one, geared to each person’s unique circumstances and needs.  We’re beginning to work with the speech therapy department at Madison College.  They send students to work with us as interns.  We learn from them, and they receive practical experience from us. Plus, Madison is in touch with new innovations that could help all of our students.”

After Mary knocked on the classroom door, the group was invited inside for a brief visit.  The students seemed delighted with the attention they were getting.  This was the heart-warming part of the day’s experience.  Mary’s son, Paul, was working with his teacher at a nearby table.  He squealed with delight and strained to get out a greeting…”Come…in….”   

“This is my son, Paul,” Mary said, then added in a teasing manner, “always wanting to steal the show.”  Paul and the others laughed, and he said, “Yee-a-ah!”  He was working with an intern who was teaching him to blow through a straw in order to use a special electronic typewriter.  

“This is a newly-developed machine that is still somewhat experimental.  We’re finding out whether people who can’t control their hands can learn to compensate by this method.”  It took an enormous effort as Paul blew, and then the machine responded and a typed letter emerged on a sheet of paper.  Mary introduced the other students, giving each one a chance to shine for a moment.  

“I hope we haven’t taken too much of your time,” said one of the group members.

“Oh, no,” said the intern.   “You haven’t bothered us at all.  One of our goals is to learn how to be comfortable with who we are among people we don’t know.  We’re glad you came.”

Leaving the room, they went down the staircase they had seen earlier to the lower level where Mary showed them the office.  It was filled with file cabinets, office machines, desks, papers…a busy place.  A typist looked up from her work and flashed a welcoming smile.  A bookkeeper smiled from another desk.  “Hi!”

Mary introduce everyone.  “Here’s where we keep all of our records, and generate the monthly “Newsey Letter,” she said.  “When we first started fund-raising, Hugh dreamed up a monthly letter to stay in touch with our donors, and to attract new support.  He writes it in a folksy, homespun style that people like.”

Leaving the office, the group noted the laundry room, and then entered a large kitchen filled with commercial-sized equipment–two stoves, a refrigerator, and sink.  There was a large pantry stocked with food products, and a cook was preparing supper.  She  explained how they prepared the meals, and showed them how she raised hot food to the day room on the dumbwaiter.  

It was getting late, so the group went back to where their tour had begun.  Mary answered ore questions and gave them each materials they could take home.

“If you alreadmy support us, we thank you,” she said, smiling.  “If not, we hope you’ll consider a gift–and please, we’d appreciate it if you’d tell others about who we are and what we’re doing.  We invite you to be “in step” with us.  The way we’ve gotten this far, and the only way forward from here, is by taking one-step-at-a-time.”

(Excerpt from “Dairyman’s Daughter,” by Hugh Townsend Harris, based on “Remembering” by Mary Ellen Townsend Harris)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can This be Patched?

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img_5561Nope!

It’s gone!

Nothing to do now but pick up the pieces.

In its day, this workboat plied the Chesapeake Bay with pride.  Its skipper took it out in all sorts of weather.  Sea gulls played in its wake.  Its crew dredged oyster beds.  The comradery of watermen sharing laughter, anger, anticipation, disappointment, triumph, and brotherhood echoed in its timbers.

One day, probably all too soon for its owners, the boat gave up its seafaring days. Propped up ashore to fade away with dignity, it is remembered by many.  Some will never see it again.  Few will know what it was like to walk its decks, man its equipment, or store fish in its hold.  It has made its contribution.

Life goes on!

This old boat that I photographed decades ago came to mind two weeks ago when I opened an email saying my publisher had suddenly gone out of business.  Tate Publishing…

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Can This be Patched?

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Nope!

It’s gone!

Nothing to do now but pick up the pieces.

In its day, this workboat plied the Chesapeake Bay with pride.  Its skipper took it out in all sorts of weather.  Sea gulls played in its wake.  Its crew dredged oyster beds.  The comradery of watermen sharing laughter, anger, anticipation, disappointment, triumph, and brotherhood echoed in its timbers.

One day, probably all too soon for its owners, the boat gave up its seafaring days. Propped up ashore to fade away with dignity, it is remembered by many.  Some will never see it again.  Few will know what it was like to walk its decks, man its equipment, or store fish in its hold.  It has made its contribution.

Life goes on!

This old boat that I photographed decades ago came to mind two weeks ago when I opened an email saying my publisher had suddenly gone out of business.  Tate Publishing and Enterprises is no more.

Gone!

Like the old boat, it can’t be patched up and refloated.  The watermark of its presence in the publishing and music world is left to fade into the background.  Hopefully, its authors and artists will not!

I have been a Tate author since 2013.  I signed on in 2012 when I had polished up a manuscript I had worked on over a twenty-year period.  In the confusing world of e-books, self-publishing, and predictions that print media was outdated, the editorial staff at Tate showed me how to lose 40,000 of my 122,000 words, ending up with my first novel, A Change of Heart.   

Since then Tate enabled me to develop my Dinkel Island Series, which includes book two, Return of Bliss, and book three, Secrets at Lighthouse Point.  When my wife, Sharon, and I had gone through the neurological sidetrack of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), Tate published the book we wrote together:  NPH Journey into Dementia and Out Again.   

So, what does Tate’s closing mean for us?  Is it the end of our books?  

We don’t know what’s next, but we’re not ready to have our writing propped up on shore to fade away.  Several publishing houses have contacted us.  I don’t know if the Dinkel Island Series will continue, or simply be allowed to live on as a trilogy.  Sharon and I both have other writing ventures underway.  One of my goals is to finish the biography of my mother’s life, Dairyman’s Daughter:  Story of One Woman’s Enduring Faith and Courage.  I also have another novel partially written.

Once we find a new publishing boat to board, we’ll be underway again.  Meanwhile, we have books available for sale.  Amazon has both paperback and kindle editions up on their site for all our books.  Barnes & Noble has them all up in Nook editions.  Soft cover books are still available at Book People in Richmond, and Buford Road Pharmacy in Bon Air.

Sharon and I are grateful to all the people who have bought our books.  We also extend our prayers for the Tate family, former employees, and our fellow Tate authors.  As we move on from here it’s good to remember that my books are about redemption and hope.

That’s our centerpiece!