T.W. Burger

My new hobby of photography is providing me with some important life lessons. It may be more accurate to say photography is reminding of lessons I learned long ago but got busy and forgot.

We have this thing we do in our culture called multitasking.

Researchers have found out that it does not really work well. It’s like slicing up a pie into, say, 10 slices and claiming that you have made more pie.

Back when I worked full-time in newsrooms, it was not unusual to be typing up an interview while I had my interviewee on the phone, keeping an ear out for disasters on the police/fire scanner, and trying to understand (1) what my editor, who was standing in front of me, was saying and (2) wondering if the significance of my talking on the phone might suddenly occur to him.

Back in the day, people in journalism were more prone than other people to have substance abuse problems. This is why.

But I digress.

Out of long habit, I tend to let my mind wander while I’m doing something else. A prime example is chugging along back roads, camera in hand, as I look for critters to capture in the device.

It requires, you should excuse the term, focus.

My brain, used to dancing through the hubbub of daily deadlines, goes scampering off, thinking about the story I’ll be working on in a couple of hours, or thinking about dinner, or…. wait, what was that?

Oh. That was a bald eagle. Or a heron. Or a red-tailed hawk, or a fox, standing or perching somewhere in a beam of sunlight in a perfect National Geographic moment…as I motor by with my mind on something else.

It’s very much like hunting for game, something I did a very long time ago. Some activities are jealous, and do not forgive allowing your focus to drift.

Oddly enough, allowing that one thing, the search for suitable subjects for the camera, to the exclusion of anything else, is tremendously liberating, a kind of meditation.

To conclude, I would love to say that I return home after a photographic expedition with a clear mind and a renewed sense of purpose for my work.

But, in truth, I usually take a nap. Hey, I’m retired.

Michael Cooper-White

Memories of Mom flood the hearts and minds of so many this Mother’s Day weekend. For all of us whose moms have moved along into the larger life beyond this realm, memories are all we have. I’ll share just one.

Lost in the mist of time are the reasons why I was being reprimanded and sent to bed early. But I do recall being quite repentant and remorseful. I was worried that my transgressions had so disappointed Mom that I might never be forgiven.

When she left the house to complete her evening chores down in the barn, I scrawled a note in my best printed penmanship on a piece of my lined tablet paper.

Taping my first-grade school picture—missing teeth, tousled hair and all—to that paper, I drew an arrow to it from my note, which read simply, “Mom, do you still love this boy?” Leaving my plea on the kitchen table, I trudged up to bed.

A while later, still lying awake and worried, I heard soft footsteps on the stairway, then the door to my darkened room creaking open.

Mom crept in, bent over and with a gentle kiss whispered, “Oh, yes, I’ll always love this boy. Now go to sleep.”

It was enough then. It’s been enough to get me through many a worried night or season. It’s enough now. Thanks, Mom!

Mary Grace Keller

The parents are in town.

They took a little weekend getaway to celebrate their 29th anniversary. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate my parents’ humor more and to laugh at their quirks.

They stopped in for lunch today. When I pulled a bag of baby carrots out of the fridge, mom told me to drain the water and put the carrots in a resealable plastic bag.

I don’t have plastic bags, I told her.

Why not? she asked.

Because they’re bad for environment, I said.

That was the end of the conversation.

I told mom about the sale going on at Kennie’s because I know she loves a good deal. Dad rolled his eyes and questioned why they’d go grocery shopping on vacation. Mom hugged him and said something like, Because it makes me happy. Dad made the face many husbands make. The “I’m annoyed but I love you anyway” face.

Dad texted me later and said mom bought me a “present” at Kennie’s. Lo and behold, when I got home I saw a box of plastic baggies on my kitchen table next to a note with a smiley face.

I also returned home to a fridge full of food, but mom made clear it was for them to take home. They couldn’t keep it at the hotel.

She said I could have ONE deviled egg though.

I have to laugh. My parents are something.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom! I love you.

Holly Fletcher

On the radio this week, the hosts were asking people to call in and share a memory of their mom, in recognition of Mother’s Day on Sunday.

I’d have a hard time coming up with just one memory. From giving me home perms, teaching me to bake, always being in the audience at school concerts and sporting events, telling a tall young man about her eligible daughter and then cheering at their wedding, and loving up on all her grandkids ... the list is long.

But the one thing that really stands out about my mom is her laughter. She is a happy person. As is my mom-in-law. They both have a light inside that shines through — in their smiles and in their genuine concern for others. I hope to be half (and not just because I’m short) the mom they have been and continue to be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the soon-to-be-moms, new moms, experienced moms, step-moms, adoptive moms, moms of one, moms of many, and all the wonderful women who provide mom-like qualities to those they love.

We love you. God Bless!

Vanessa Pellechio

On Friday, I got to tour Gettysburg Montessori Charter School for the first time with an enthusiastic student named Jackson Parks and his mother Megan Freeman-Parks. To say his energy can change the dynamic of a room is an understatement.

Parks, who has missed school because of complications from his second open heart surgery, was still the light in the room with his classmates taking turns to give him hugs.

At one point, I told him we were going to be best friends, and he turned to me in shock.

“Really?” he said with a smile.

He gave me a big hug.

Jackson was excited to show Gettysburg Times photographer Darryl Wheeler and me his school, and he shared he loves that his mom works there, too.

When he came back to school this past Tuesday, he wore a crown and a cape and felt like a superhero with his classmates cheering him on in the hallways. Kindergarten students sang to him.

In the future, he hopes to one day be a police officer to help keep people safe, he said.

It was an honor to be able to meet Jackson.

He is making a difference, and he reminded me why I love my job here. I get the chance to share special stories like this.

Alex J. Hayes

A high school friend posted on Facebook “It’s nurses’ week and teacher appreciation week... can we condense them and just call it under-appreciated professionals week?”

Makes sense, considering the week ends on Mother’s Day, the queen of under-appreciated people.

When I was in high school, I attended a summer program for students aspiring to be first-generation college graduates. We lived in a Bloomsburg University dorm for six weeks and attended classes to prepare us for college.

I was required to write an essay about someone who inspired me. I pounded out the required number of words about my mother. Dad had died a little more than a year ago and she was caring for two teenage boys while dealing with suddenly losing her husband. I didn’t think much about the assignment. Honestly, I probably only chose mom because it was a topic I knew well and I was too lazy to research someone more famous. Fifteen-year-old Alex was more interested in hanging out with friends than homework. I only signed up for the Upward Bound program because my high school German tutor was enrolled and she made my teenage hormones go wild.

I remember sitting at the end-of-summer banquet with mom, just itching to get the heck out of there and see my friends back in Shamokin. The writing teacher read my essay in front of everyone. Mom started crying. I was completely embarrassed and wanted to steal her car keys, figure out how to drive myself home and not worry about how she was going to get there. The German tutor was dating some other guy so she was out of my focus.

Many years later, I am glad the teacher took time to encourage me to write and mom had the opportunity to know how I felt.

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