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Patti Abercrombie, RN, and her staff help families make home health care decisions easier with Around the Clock Home Care.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

When it comes to the health of family members, you can’t always know what’s ahead.
Patti Abercrombie, RN, knows this better than most.
It was a few years ago while living overseas that Abercrombie got the dreaded call.
Dad has cancer.
With a husband who was finance director for a large global company, Abercrombie had the luxury of hopping onto a plane and coming back to Chickasha to be with her family.
She put her nursing skills to work, pouring into her family for her father’s remaining few months.
After the dust had settled she realized that virtually every family gets one or two of those phone calls at some point.
But how many are able to hop on a plane and rush right home?
“I came back to take care of him. Most people just aren’t able to do that,” she said. “I was very fortunate.
“I thought ‘what if I hadn’t been able to get here.’”
Abercrombie came back to take care of her father, a Marine of 42 years, while he was battling bone cancer.
Out of that situation eventually led to Around the Clock Home Care in Chickasha.
“That was one thing that really bothered me. What about the people that don’t have anybody?” Abercrombie said.
“We’re there to stay,” Abercrombie says. “We’re not popping in and out every two or three days and moving on to the next patient. We really get attached and we see what’s going on.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“I think it brings comfort for the families,” Abercrombie says of her company. “If they live in New York and have a loved one here that wants to stay in their house and they need someone to help them … I would be much more comfortable knowing there was a nurse there to oversee what is going on.”
Around the Clock Provides a fully customized care plan for families. With services ranging from three-hour visits to to 24/7 around-the-clock care, the company can meet most needs.
All care plans are customized specifically for family needs and visits can be planned for any time of the day or night and designed with daily or weekly visits.
Abercrombie is a dedicated RN with nearly 30 years supervisory experience in Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant, Pain Management, Hematology, Home Health, and Hospice. She’s provided quality patient care, as a supervisor at a 700 bed hospital and brings her commitment to clinical excellence into the home setting.
She offers free in-home consultation with her or one of her nurses.
Long Term Care Insurance accepted as well as all major credit cards. Assistance with VA Aid and Attendance is also provided.
Around the Clock services Central Oklahoma and south.
One thing that makes Abercrombie’s staff very unique is their combined life history.
“I would say nearly every one of our staff members have gone through this with their own family member,” Abercrombie said. “They’ve taken care of their grandmother or were the only caregiver for their mother or father. They’ll tell me the stories.”
It’s one of the qualities she looks for when hiring staff. Those life experiences translate into the type of care she ensures.
Abercrombie utilizes RNs, LPNs, certified nursing assistants and sitters to accomplish the mission of helping people not only stay but thrive in their homes.
Coming back to Chickasha from Saudi Arabia Abercrombie felt at peace.
“Chickasha is so comforting. It was like Chickasha had stood still in time,” she said.
Those family values were still there.
Around the Clock is moving into its fifth year serving the surrounding counties and Abercrombie says the need grows every passing day.
GROWING NEED
About 1 in 3 people caring for someone at home (as opposed to a nursing home), said they had hired paid help in the past year, according to a survey by the AARP Public Policy Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving. The median cost nationwide for either homemaker or home health aide services is upward of $125 a day, assuming 44 hours of care per week.
When someone calls with questions Abercrombie will not let them off the phone without a solution – whether it be Around the Clock or another resource.
“All of these scenarios could be me and I’m not going to do anything to anyone I would not do to myself or my parents,” she said. “I’m not a bottom line person.”

http://www.aroundtheclockhc.com/

For nearly 40 years now Gary Owens has poured his heart and soul into building homes people are proud to live in.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Several decades ago Gary Owens and his family were grazing Angus cattle on the hundred acres near SW 17th and Czech Hall Road.
Little did the future home builder know that that patch of Oklahoma prairie would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for seniors searching for affordable living.
“It’s just a good deal for someone that’s a working class person and just doesn’t have tons of income,” he said of his current home building project.
For the last 39 years the Owens name has been synonymous with quality homes in the Mustang area.
Now it’s also becoming known for truly affordable senior living with the opening of Belmont Cove.
That grazing land has given way to beautifully appointed homes seniors can afford to lease at $1 a square foot.
AMENITIES ABOUND
The luxury two-bedroom homes are 1,000 square feet of handicap-accessible living space. Baths are adorned with granite vanity and ceramic tile flooring.
Granite countertops and beautiful wood flooring spill into the kitchen with a host of stainless steel appliances.
Enclosed washer and dryer connections and a one-car garage add to the residence.
Fenced backyards and a covered porch allow for easy pet-friendly outdoor living.
There’s no costly buy-in to get into Belmont Cove either.
A deposit and first month’s rent allows residents to move in.
Belmont Cove is two miles away from Wal-Mart, Target, Homeland and other shopping venues.
Integris Canadian Valley Hospital is three miles away and the senior center is five miles down the road.
“You can be just about anywhere in Oklahoma City in 15 minutes,” Owens said.
Owens made sure that all leases included a buyout clause in the case that someone’s circumstances changed and they needed to move into an assisted living facility.
For the cost of a month’s rent residents are able to make that needed move.
It’s personal for Owens, who made sure he built the type of residence he would want his mother to live in. That’s because his mother did live in one of those homes until she was in her 90s.
Owens built a similar community in the 1990s and it was quickly purchased by a California investor.
Then Owens and his three brothers had to pool their resources when their mother required around-the-clock care.
“We wished we hadn’t sold it,” Owens said of the 47-home project.
That was an inspiration for Belmont Cove which is opening in three phases with a 2,500-square-foot clubhouse.
“The biggest thing is we do all the maintenance,” Owens said. “They can even take off for two or three months and we’ll watch after it for them.”
Mowing the yard, changing the light bulbs or air filters – it’s all included.
And it’s all markedly cheaper than any comparable property.
It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It’s pretty hard for anybody to compete with us on price because we’ve owned the land so long,” Owens explained.
Owens also passes along deep discounts to residents at Galleria Furniture, which he also owns.
LOCAL HISTORY
Owens built his first house in 1978, while still in high school. Overcoming many obstacles due to beginning at such a young age, he has now built some 2,000 homes and 135 commercial buildings. He has also developed 26 housing additions in the Yukon/Mustang area.
Creating a fully integrated construction company, Owens performs a lot of work that would normally be contracted out by other builders, including carpeting, dirt work and sand and gravel delivery. This keeps costs low, allowing savings to be passed on to customers.
It’s always been about family for Owens, who has taught son Justin to carry on the legacy he’s built. Justin serves as construction superintendent, overseeing day-to-day operations and working with his dad since 1996.
His mother-in-law is expecting to move into Belmont Cove in the coming months.
Spend a few minutes with Owens and a couple things become obvious.
The elder Owens is relational and foundational. A handshake with Owens is a promise that he’ll deliver exactly what he says he will, even if it costs him more.
Many of Owens’ contractors have been working with him since the late 1970s. Most grew up with him in the Mustang area.
That shared foundation was carried over into the home building process and attention poured into the details.
For instance, everyone knows that a prefab cabinet will never enter an Owens home.
All wood cabinets are built from scratch with raw wood, stained and then finished.
It’s just another example of how every home is unique.
And he takes great pride in developing land that sustained his family into affordable homes that will be a blessing for more Oklahoma families.

 

http://belmontcove.com/

Seaman Geliyah Ingram is serving aboard USS Boxer, based in San Diego.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi McCormick, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2016 Moore High School graduate and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, native is currently serving aboard the largest amphibious warship in the Navy.
Seaman Geliyah Ingram is serving aboard USS Boxer, based in San Diego.
As part of the ship’s deck department, Ingram is responsible for various duties, such as cargo onload, maintenance of the deck and hull structure, and carrying out mooring operations.
“While serving aboard the Boxer, I’ve learned that keeping a positive attitude goes a long wayand teamwork makes the workday easier,” Ingram said.
Boxer is an amphibious assault ship that resembles a small aircraft carrier. Approximately 3,000 Sailors and Marines serve aboard the ship and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times, according to Navy officials.
Boxer is famous for playing a critical role in the rescue mission of Capt. Richard Phillips on April 12, 2009. U.S. Navy SEALS and other special operations forces from USS Bainbridge rescued Phillips who was later transferred to Boxer for medical evaluation and care. This successful rescue mission was portrayed in the 2013 movie, “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks, and featuring crewmembers from the Boxer.
The ship is armed with two semi-active radar-guided NATO Sea Sparrow missile systems for anti-air warfare protection, two rolling airframe missile systems and two Phalanx close-in weapon-system mounts to counter threats from low-flying aircraft and close-in small craft.
It’s 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons, with two gas turbine engines that push the ship through water at more than 22 knots.
As a member of the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship, Ingram is proud to be part of the most capable amphibious force in the world.
Ingram’s proudest accomplishment was earning her Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification, showcasing her knowledge and aptitude of various shipboard personal qualification standards.
“The success of our Surface Force ships is measured by our ability to provide Fleet Commanders with combat naval power at sea and to project that power ashore where and when it matters,” said Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “It’s hard work to ready ships for combat operations at sea – it takes the talent of an entire crew working well together. I’m extremely proud of the each and every surface warrior’s contributions to the Navy’s enduring mission of protecting and defending America, at home and around the world.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Ingram and other Boxer sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“Being in an environment with people from all different backgrounds has taught me a lot about leadership and responsibility and has made me stronger person,” said Ingram.

 

Ginny Curtis is one of the owners of MCM Insurance, focusing on Medicare and Retirement. Sessions, Navigating through Medicare are offered, intended to fully educate on Medicare and the options available.

by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer

Meet Ginny Curtis, Licensed Insurance Agent of MCM Insurance, Medicare and Retirement. The company is family owned and operated and they are proud of their combined team experience of 50 years. MCM Insurance is focused on those with Medicare and the options that they can offer. With comprehensive Medicare help, there are many carriers, not centering on one individual company, instead, offering a wide variety of products, setting their goal to help individuals get the coverage they need and deserve. The name of the company, MCM Insurance comes from the first initial of the 3 owner’s last names. Jennifer Melton, Ginny Curtis and Tonderai Bassoppo-Moyo.
As Ginny sits behind her desk, she explains the MCM Insurance with professionalism and ease, giving that comfortable, down-to-earth feeling. She speaks with confidence and pride, giving her words a bit of strength, dedication and answers. “I’ve been doing this for 32 years,” she says with a smile. It is obvious that she is very comfortable speaking about the advantages of MCM Insurance. “I enjoy my job and helping others. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here, “she adds.
“Not a lot of people realize they can come to us and we can help them get more coverage than what they are getting now. We can help the Veterans in a lot of ways. We just need to reach out to them. We are trying to get the word out as much as we can. We focus on offering information sessions called Navigating through Medicare. This session is intended to fully educate on Medicare and the options available. I’d say that about 98% of our clients are Medicare and that is why we try to help them any way that we can. It gives our clients a big advantage overall.”
MCM Insurance serves the whole state of Oklahoma. Appointments can be set up at their office, in the customer’s home or even a coffee shop if they prefer. They aim to please and want to do the very best for their clients.
The services that are offered by MCM Insurance are Medicare supplement, prescription drug plans, Medicare advantage plans, hospital indemnity, short term care, final expense, cancer, heart attack, stroke, dental, vision and hearing. Today, in this ever changing world, it is good to have one office and one team working for the clients.
“We love to participate in local community events.” Ginny says. We can schedule one of our presentation or they can contact MCM to have a table at their event.”
Some of the questions that seem to be asked when talking to a MCM agent are: Can you help me with insurance even if I am under 65? What if I have been diagnosed with cancer or have to spend time in a hospital or nursing home? Can you set up my family business with group insurance? Do you offer vision and dental plans? The answer to all of these questions is YES! They will be happy to help you in any way they can.
“We are a small office, yet we are very unique. I love the fact that we are family owned and operated. “We treat everyone with the highest of respect, focusing on what is right for that person. We take an unbiased approach and do our best,” Ginny comments.
On a personal note, Ginny is a pleasant individual who seems to have a positive attitude, taking on a positive attitude in everything she does. Born in Chicago, she moved to Oklahoma when she was a teenager.
Between Ginny and her husband, they have 6 children, 16 grandchildren, (another one on the way) ages 1 through 23, and 1 great grandchild. “That can be a hand full sometimes,” she said. When she is home, she enjoys spending time with her family. Her hobbies include sewing and cooking, which she loves doing both.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with an MCM agent to attend a session on Navigating through Medicare, or schedule a presentation, you can reach the office at 405-842-0494. If you would like more information, check out the website at www.mcmmedicare.com. The office is located at 2232 West Hefner Road, Suite A, Oklahoma City, OK 73120. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00-3:00, Saturday by appointment only and closed on Sundays.
Overall, MCM Insurance and their team will be happy to help you with any of your insurance needs. Give them a call; you will be glad you did.

https://www.mcmmedicare.com/

Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn t4z@aol.com

March 21, M.J.Van Deventer will be the guest speaker for a noon “Brown Bag Luncheon” at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. She will speak on “Jerome Tiger ~ The Enduring Legend.” Her talk, which is open to the public free of charge, is one of several activities about the late artist’s life and influence, complementing a retrospective of Jerome’s influence and art, which hangs through May, 2018.
Jerome Tiger began to paint in “Indian Style” in 1962. Nettie Wheeler of Muskogee, Oklahoma, recognized Jerome’s talent and encouraged him in his artistic endeavors. Jerome submitted his early work to the 1962 Philbrook Art Center’s Annual Indian Art Exhibition and later was invited to have his first major exhibition where nearly all of his images sold out. A full blood Muscogee Creek-Seminole, Tiger’s style is said to be a combination of “spiritual vision, humane understanding, and technical virtuosity” but with traditional subject matter and composition.
Speaker, M.J. Van Deventer-Shelton says, “I grew up in Muskogee and became acquainted with Jerome Tiger through an English class at Muskogee Central High School in the late 1950s. Sitting next to Jerome in that class, I often watched him draw while the rest of the class labored over diagramming complex sentences.”
Fast forward to 1967 and the untimely accidental death of Jerome Tiger. By the late 1970s, M. J. embarked on a research journey to piece together the fragments of Jerome’s life, visit the artists and collectors he influenced and research the enduring quality of his art ~ paintings that changed the face of Native American art.
While serving as the Director of Publications and editor of Persimmon Hill for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for 18 years, Van Deventer had the opportunity to study Jerome’s art and become friends with Arthur and Shifra Silberman, whose gift of Jerome’s art has made this museum’s Jerome Tiger paintings, the largest archive of his art.
Van Deventer is a graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and received a Master’s Degree in Communications from Oklahoma State University. She did post graduate work in the pre-law program at Tulsa Junior College and also studied at Syracuse University in New York on a Wall Street Journal Fellowship.
For 25 years, she was a newspaper reporter/editor for the Stillwater News Press, Tulsa World, the Daily Oklahoman, Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Tulsa Tribune, which nominated her for a Pulitzer Prize for public service reporting. During that time, she also was an adjunct professor of journalism at OSU and the University of Central Oklahoma.
An award-winning journalist, her articles have appeared in Southwest Art, Oklahoma Today, Tulsa People, Oklahoma Magazine, Traditional Home, Art Gallery International, Cowboys & Indians and Triple AAA’s Home & Away. She is the author or co-author of 10 books and is currently completing a biography on Jerome Tiger and the well-known Oklahoma sculptor, Harold T. Holden.
Her passions are writing, cooking, gardening and traveling, especially to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a past chairman of the Muskogee Area Master Gardeners, and current President of the Muskogee Area Arts Council. She is a board member of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, which has the second largest holding of Jerome’s art, including his only sculpture and his last work, The Stickballer.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is America’s premier institution of Western history, art, and culture. Founded in 1955, the Museum, located in Oklahoma City, collects, preserves, and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West. More than 10 million visitors from around the world have sought out this unique museum to gain better understanding of the West: a region and a history that permeates our national culture.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum features a superb collection of classic and contemporary Western art, including works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, as well as sculptor James Earle Fraser’s magnificent work, The End of the Trail. The exhibition wing houses a turn-of-the-century town and interactive history galleries that focus on the American cowboy, rodeos, Native American culture, Victorian firearms, frontier military, and Western performers. Outside, beautifully landscaped gardens flank the Children’s Cowboy Corral and interactive children’s space.
Additional information about the Brown Bag Luncheon Series is available by contacting Tara Carr at the National Cowboy Museum, (405) 478-2250.

Clara Wichert, pictured at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Convention, is being recognized as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma Agriculture for her contributions to the industry.

by Kaylee Snow

When Clara Wichert fell in love with a farmer by the name of Lloyd Wichert, she did not realize what she was getting herself into.
“I was very naïve,” Wichert said. “I was barely 19, and we went over to his parents to talk about the wedding. I remember Lloyd’s father saying, ‘We cannot have the wedding until after the wheat is planted and it is up a couple of inches.’ I thought, ‘really?’”
The two married in 1959, and Wichert began farming with him immediately. The operation consisted of 600 acres of canola, alfalfa, wheat and cattle. Wichert had grown up on a farm, but her father thought women belonged inside the house. Because of this, Wichert didn’t have much farm experience.
“He told me my job was in the house to iron and starch his shirts, to cook and to clean,” she said. “My job was to learn how to do things in the house.”
However, Lloyd didn’t think so. Wichert laughs about it now, but she recalls how difficult the transition was for her.
“I always got yelled at, so that was very difficult for me,” Wichert said.
She described herself as a “tender soul” and often just “went in the house and cried.”
“One time, he needed me so bad when we were planting wheat that … I had to drive the tractor home because we had four or five plots of land that were at a distance,” Wichert recalled. “I cried so hard all the way home that when I got out of the tractor, he said, ‘I didn’t know. I won’t ever make you drive the tractor again.’”
Wichert was “scared to death” and recalls rolling backwards at a stop sign while in front of another tractor.
“It was not a pleasant experience for me,” she said.
Dust Bowl Days
Wichert was born in 1940 in Fairview, Okla., at the end of the Dust Bowl and in the middle of World War II. Her father grew wheat and had a few chickens and cattle.
I was born on the farm in a bedroom, in the southwest bedroom,” Wichert laughed. “I was born in a home. I don’t know if they had a doctor or not.”
While the family did have water and electricity, they didn’t have all luxuries.
“We had an outdoor toilet, and I remember that very well, and it was a long way out there,” Wichert said.
While Wichert has sweet memories of playing on the farm, it was hard back then.
“I watched my father with tears in his eyes stand by the window,” she said, “and it was very imprinted on my mind that the wind was blowing and the sand hills were blowing too, and he had resowed his wheat at least three or four times. Farming is a lot different now.”
Tough Times, New Beginnings
When Lloyd passed away in 1998, Wichert surprised everyone, including herself, and continued farming.
“I had to keep track of all the expenses, and I had to go and sell wheat,” she said. “I had never done that before. I had to learn to watch the wheat prices.”
Wichert sought help from the Oklahoma Farm Bureau (OFB) and Oklahoma State University on when to sell her wheat.
“I even asked the top wheat guy at OSU, and he told me you’ll never go wrong when you sell the wheat at three different times: at harvest, right after the first of the year, and then you might keep some a little bit later. I thought, this is complicated,” she laughed.
Wichert’s sons, Jeff and Rex, pushed her to continue farming.
“My son [Jeff] said, ‘You will learn how to do this,’” Wichert said.
She took classes to learn how to use a computer and type so she could keep better track of the expenses.
“I felt pretty good about myself that my son Jeff made me do it all,” Wichert said.
For the next 15 years, Wichert would farm alongside her sons and was fully responsible for the farm.
“The day I had to write a check for $15,000 for spray and fertilizer,” she said, “I could hardly make myself write that check.”
During this time after her husband’s death, Wichert found new beginnings with the OFB and Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom (AITC). She served on the OFB Women’s Committee for 15 years and chaired the committee for nine years.
“I never thought I would do that in my life,” she said.
Wichert gained immense knowledge about agriculture during her time as chair. Her involvement with AITC began at Fairview Public Schools (FPS) before there was an organization.
“I would come in every month and do a class about agriculture,” she said. “Some of those kids are in high school now, and they said, ‘Oh, we remember you Mrs. Clara. You always came to our classroom and did Ag in the Classroom.’ I always enjoyed that very much. That was very much a part of my life after my husband died.”
Wichert said she loves teaching agriculture because it’s fun for both her and the children, and it became her “heart.” The kids still know her as “Mrs. Agriculture” and the “Ag Lady.”
“I remember in 1981 going to the first Ag in the Classroom event, and I’ve been very involved with that ever since,” she said. “Even now, last week I went to a couple schools and read some books that Ag in the Classroom sponsors. I have learned so much.”
Living and working on the farm helped Wichert become a better agricultural educator. She said AITC is important because there are many children who don’t know much about where their food comes from.
“There’s not very many of us left that live on a farm,” she said. “Oh, they would be eager to tell me they live in the country, but they knew nothing about agriculture, and the kids today don’t. It’s just a foreign word.”
Wichert was recognized as the 2012 National AITC Ag Advocate for her efforts in creating agricultural curriculum and increasing agricultural literacy at FPS. She was awarded the 2017 Volunteer of the Year by the Fairview Chamber of Commerce and the 2012 Distinguished Service to OFB award winner. She was also recently recognized as Mentor of the Year through Mission Mentors at FPS for continuing to serve as a one-on-one mentor to students.
Wichert continues to stay active with Major County Farm Bureau and keeps herself up-to-date on AITC events. She still mentors a little girl at Fairview Elementary School once a week.
She’s a breast cancer survivor since 1982 and “not because of the two years of chemo, but it’s through God.”
She’s watched her husband lose his battle with colon cancer and her barn burn to the ground a couple years ago. Still, she keeps her faith.
When asked what keeps her going, she said, “Definitely my faith in God and realizing that he has a plan for my life. As I look at my life, I think, ‘Who would’ve dreamed I’d get a national award for Ag in the Classroom?’ I just have to believe that God had a plan.”
Now in her late ’70s, she gave the farm to her sons a couple years ago.
“That’s what Lloyd made me promise to do before he died,” she said.
Her sons still say she owns the land until she dies. Jeff lives on the farm and is a crop adjuster, and Rex works for Syngenta in Tennessee. Wichert has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. When it comes time for harvest, everyone comes home to help. They think it’s fun, which makes Wichert smile as she recalls the hard times.
“I know my two sons, they wouldn’t sell an inch of their land that my husband and I farmed, oh no,” she said. “They are men of the soil, and I know that doesn’t happen very often today … [Agriculture] is very important. It keeps us alive. If you’re alive, you use agriculture from the minute you get up to the minute you go to sleep.”
When asked about Wichert’s transition from someone who nearly hated agriculture to someone who is heavily involved and an agricultural advocate, she simply said, “It happened gradually.”
“I often think my husband is laughing in heaven because I have turned out such a neat agricultural person,” she said, because agriculture became so important to her, particularly after he died.

Occupying a unique place-- Darlene Franklin is both a resident of a nursing home in Moore, and a full-time writer. In addition to 46 unique book titles, She has been published in dozens of magazines and nonfiction books. I also write a monthly column for Book Fun Magazine, The View Through My Door--nursing home life from the standpoint of a resident. I wondered if the readers of Oklahoma’s Nursing Times would be interested in a similar article or even, potentially, a column.

My daughter, Jolene, committed suicide ten years ago this March. My daughter, Jolene, committed suicide ten years ago this March. My world still stops for a few seconds when I say those words. I still feel the enormity of the loss, the emptiness left in her wake. The wound has healed, but the scar remains. On the other hand, life has moved on. Jolene is in my past (and in my future, in heaven), but she’s not a part of my present. And yet. . . when people ask how many children I have, I hesitate. Do I say one son, or explain about Jolene? When I brag on my beautiful daughter-in-law, my four lovely grandchildren and one greatgrandchild, I wonder if Jolene could ever have handled motherhood, given her mental illness.Mostly I wonder if Jolene would ever have found enough peace to enjoy her life and share all that was uniquely hers with the world.The questions will never be answered this side of heaven, except that I know without a doubt Jolene is now fully herself, in ways no one ever can be on earth. It’s time for me to go back. I’ve gained perspective into how I survived the loss in one peace (sic). I’ve summarized the lessons as statements, some complex, some simple. They offer hope to people struggling with mental illness, grief, depression, any one of a multitude of losses.What I can say beyond any doubt is that God was intimately involved with every breath I took. “But God” became the theme of my days.1. The days crawled into weeks then months as I wallowed in grief but God gave me time and distance. 2. I blamed myself for my mistakes but God helped me understand I’d done my best.3. I wanted to take responsibility for Jolene’s death but God gave me grace to forgive myself.4. The days were empty but God filled my nights with dreams where Jolene was close enough to touch.5. My arms ached to hold my daughter but God gave me her teddy bear to hold.6. My heart felt ripped in two but God surrounded me with twenty-four hour love from friends around the world. 7. My lips had forgotten how to smile but God helped me laugh again.  8. My life spun out of my control but God gave me stories to write that I could control.9. I had questioned God during my children’s teen years but God used those times to prepare me for the trial of Jolene’s death.10. When Jolene lived, her illness made it difficult for me to enjoy her but God has restored the memories of her heart for God, her generosity, her passion for winning souls, and her poet’s heart. 11. I imagined the future Jolene had missed but God showed me her life wouldn’t have been perfect and probably not pleasant. 12. Jolene had felt misunderstood and unwelcome at church but God has used her life and death to shine light on mental illness in the Christian community.13. I could barely function at work but God made me strong in my co-workers’ eyes.14. I lost my daughter but God gave my granddaughter Jordan Elizabeth Franklin (name meant to echo Jolene’s) nine months later.  15. Two years later, I lost my mother, but God gave me my grandson, Isaiah Jaran Franklin. My son said Isaiah, “the Lord is salvation,” came to remind us our hope is in the Lord. 16. I shuddered when I pictured how Jolene died but God showed me how He stood, waiting to take her into His arms.There is so much more I could say. The principle that God takes every grief and pain and transforms them continues to direct my life.

I’ll close with Jolene’s own words:Hope in Black and WhiteBy Jolene FranklinHow can I be such as I am in this world of whiteIn this world of white where everything goes rightBut there’s a world of blackWhere the sky is gray and no sun shinesI go into that black sometimesInto a world of darkness and despairBut hope is always thereI am on a journey to hopeWhere the sun shines and gladness stays

 

Darlene Franklin is both a resident of a nursing home in Moore, and a full-time writer.

What does volunteering do for you? Norman Regional Health System Volunteers

It fills my soul. I’ve been doing it for a year-and-a-half.  Dana Cantwell

It truly gives me an opportunity to give back to a community that’s given me so much. Hailey Dycus

It’s a community and it’s giving back to that community and interacting with a wonderful set of people.  Jonnina Benson

It gives me something to do on Wednesdays and it’s something to look forward to that’s fun. Dixie Hurd

Dear Savvy Senior,

What resources can you recommend to help older job seekers? I’m 60 and have been out of work for nearly a year now and need some help.

Seeking Employment

Dear Seeking,
While the U.S. job market has improved dramatically over the past few years, challenges still persist for many older workers. To help you find employment, there are job resource centers and a wide variety of online tools specifically created for older job seekers. Here’s where you can find help.
Job Centers
Depending on where you live, there are career service centers located throughout the U.S. that can help you find a job. One of the best is the American Job Center (AJC) that has around 2,500 centers nationwide. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, AJCs are free-to-use resource centers that can help you explore your career options, search for jobs, find training, write a resume, prepare for an interview and much more. To find a center near you, call 877-872-5627 or go to CareerOneStop.org.
Some other good programs for older workers include the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and AARP’s Back To Work 50+ program.
The SCSEP – sponsored by the Department of Labor – helps place income-eligible workers over age 55 in part-time, temporary community service positions where they can learn job skills. To learn more or locate a program in your area visit DOLETA.gov/seniors or call 877-872-5627.
AARP’s Back To Work 50+ program currently offers workshops in 19 locations around the U.S. that provide career counseling, job coaching and skills development for 50-plus job seekers. Or, if you can’t attend their workshop, they also offer an excellent guide called “7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers.” To get a free copy, or see if there’s a workshop in your area call 855-850-2525.
If none of the above programs are available in your area, check with your local public library or nearby community college to see if they provide career services.
Job Search Sites
There are also a number of online job search sites that can help you connect with companies that are looking for mature, experienced workers.
Some good sites for 50 and older job seekers include: WhatsNext.com, which offers a job search site and has online assessment tools, calculators, career guides and career coaches to help you; RetiredBrains.com that provides information on finding temporary or seasonal jobs, as well as starting your own business, working from home, writing your resume, finding full-time work, and continuing your education; RetirementJobs.com that lets you post your resume and search for full-time or part-time jobs online; and Workforce50.com, which has job search functions and a list of favorite age-friendly employers by industry. It also gives you the ability to sign up for job alerts.
Work at Home
If you’re interested in working at home, there are many opportunities depending on your skills, but be careful of work-at-home scams that offer big paydays without much effort.
Some popular work-at-home jobs include sales and marketing, customer service, teaching and tutoring, writing and editing, Web development and design, consulting, interpreting and medical coding just to name a few.
To find these types of jobs, a good place to start is FlexJobs.com, which filters out the job scams and lists thousands of legitimate work-at-home jobs in dozens of categories. You can gain access to their listings for $15 for one month, $30 for three months or $50 for a year.
Start a Business
If you’re interested in starting a small business but could use some help getting started, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers tips, tools and free online courses that you can access at SBA.gov. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Program Chair Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D. (left) and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Rizwan Qaisar.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Rizwan Qaisar has been awarded an Irene Diamond Fund/AFAR Postdoctoral Transition Award in Aging.
The award, presented by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) with support from the Irene Diamond Fund, will provide $120,000 in flexible transitional funding to Qaisar, who is researching age-related muscle loss called sarcopenia at OMRF. Postdocs are individuals conducting research after finishing their doctoral studies and are pursuing further training and a well-defined career path.
AFAR is a leading nonprofit dedicated to advancing healthy aging through biomedical research. The goal of this program, according to AFAR, is to provide portable and flexible transitional funding for senior postdoctoral fellows as they develop and negotiate for faculty positions and research programs. The award provides full-time research training and grant support.
Founded in 1981, AFAR has awarded more than $175 million in grants to investigators and students across the U.S., Ireland, Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom.
“By giving these postdoctoral fellows this extra boost at a critical moment in their career path, AFAR is helping create a research pipeline that is essential to advancing better therapies for age-related diseases and discoveries that will help us all live healthier and longer,” said Jeremy Walston, M.D., Chair of the 2017 Selection Committee for the Irene Diamond Fund/AFAR Postdoctoral Transition Awards in Aging.
At OMRF, Qaisar works in the Aging and Metabolism Research Program with under the guidance of Program Chair Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D. looking specifically at the role of oxidative stress, or free radicals, in the long-term deterioration of muscle. Qaisar researches potential interventions for the disease pathways for sarcopenia, specifically the activation of the SERCA ATPase.
Qaisar earned his Ph.D. at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. His academic focus was looking at the mechanisms of muscle aging, and evaluating potential therapies to counter age-related weakness and muscle loss.
“I am extremely grateful and honored to receive this award,” said Qaisar. “This funding will provide me with a real opportunity to push my research forward and make a difference for our aging population.”

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