The Complex was Complex; The Five Points Wellness Complex. $200, a credit card, and a God Wink.


      THE COMPLEX WAS COMPLEX , a true story of Joyce Godwin Grubbs before she became an Author.

The time had come to be bold and take a risk! My husband retired from a full career of teaching. A born teacher and loving it.

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 The decision to take early retirement and pursue a “late in life career change” after some R & R, was not panning out quite the way we had envisioned it. “Healthy as a horse” all the years of his teaching career, he often ran 3 miles, or up to 5 miles for “fun.” 

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Shown here #444 wearing his traditional Oklahoma Sooners gear. Oklahoma State University was his alma mater, but like many Oklahoma kids, he was spoon-fed the Sooner’s football pride with the great Bud Wilkinson’s winning streak of 47 games and OU ruled the 50’s.

However he was not enjoying teaching in the end as much as he had in past years ,as he was increasingly fatigued to a point it was affecting his quality of life. He decided it was time to make the change.  He didn’t want to become one of the “sour old curmudgeons” he had seen in his years of teaching, who would not let go, to the dismay of many students.

 The choice to retire early carried a penalty which meant he had forfeited more than a year of accumulated sick days as he rarely missed a day of teaching in his entire career.   He got a pre-retirement physical to optimize being at his best to enjoy the new freedoms of retirement. As fate would have it, the week AFTER retiring, he was given health news that would alter our course and lives.  

I had been semi-retired having left nursing behind to pursue my own “late in life career change” returning to school to become a massage therapist Giving up nursing and going in to the massage therapy had been a long time goal and I was very content with it. I  practiced in my step-dad’s chiropractic clinic and  assisted with the cares of my mother. .

With the fears that I might conceivably lose my husband and be on my own,  I was totally in shock. He had continued to be the healthy one as we grew older;  the runner and living proof a man can maintain his body in a youthful way by exercising. I on the other hand was the couch potato, diabetic, pamper myself kind person who would not have been surprised by a serious diagnosis.

A strong reality that we faced was that his health insurance would stop after his COBRA ran out. I knew I needed to return to full time work that would provide benefits if I lost his. One problem was, I had no money saved up to do anything creative and wouldn’t touch “ours” in case we needed it.

I made a unilateral executive decision; It wouldn’t hurt to check out what it would cost to open and manage my own private massage practice. I made a modest 5 year plan for a private practice and how I would manage it. I looked in the paper for a location and happened upon one that seemed ideal. Just for fun and practice, I decided to call about it.

Now it has long been my experience that when things are right and you’re heading the direction God has in mind, things work out. If you have to manipulate and make things happen, then you best not proceed, as I can guarantee it will not work out.

It turned out the couple with the property, Dr, Patrick and Darlene Traynor were colleagues; friends and patients of my dad’s. Both Patrick and Darlene were my dad’s age and in fact Patrick had gone through Palmer College of Chiropractic with my dad and retired from a prestigious private practice of his own. 

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My father, Dr. Willard M. Smith and Dr. Patrick Traynor shake hands at a social event and Darlene Traynor looks on.

Patrick was now retired to a “late in life career change with his wife Darlene”. (Sound familiar?) They had an antique store that adjoined the property they were offering for rent. The property  had already been an occupied space set up for a massage practice.   I went to visit and it was perfect with the exception of too much space (1400 sq. ft). A beauty shop with two beauticians was included in the space and expected to be “income” for the massage clinic as the two beauticians wanted to stay in place and the salon was in the back area of the office space. The equipment in the salon had been bought by the Traynor’s when the massage tenant left.  Even with that incentive,  it  was more rent than I could hope to pay. Utilities weren’t even included.

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Taken in front of their Antique Store during one of the celebrations of a milestone anniversary of my Five Points Wellness Complex. Beautiful, beautiful people.

I had to level with the sweet couple and tell them I was sorry, but I had really come on a wing and a prayer just to see the property.  It was perfectly located at a well traveled five point intersection, well known, and parking available.  The massage area  was also already laid out in rooms that accommodated a small gift shop, two very large massage rooms, two bathrooms,  a light therapy room, and very inviting waiting area.

I explained to them again that my intention had been just to rent space as an independent therapist in my own practice. I told them I not only didn’t have that kind of rent, I did not have deposit money.

There was never a time I entertained borrowing the money, especially from my dad as they might have expected I would. I did have $200 and a credit card and projected I could earn enough with my clients from my part time practice to cover my start-up.

The Traynor’s wanted the building to continue as a health connection with massage and did not want the beauticians to be put out.  They were willing to work with me even ignoring my offer to be their paid therapist and work for them . Their answer was NO, but…………..

Everything moved swiftly from that moment forward. Stepping out in faith after an incredible show of “meant to be” was there on their part.  They were as supportive as I was overwhelmed. They would let me “take over” and the deposit could be made incrementally.

The occupancy was immediate and preparation of the rooms, furnishings and style began a complete new look which was a labor of love. Good thing I was a gifted buyer at auctions and scavenger.

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My husband was hands on during the renovation and planning of the new business, which was now known as “The Five Points Wellness Complex” in Moline, Il.

 

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Arnie was willing to work as a jack of all trades and take his “pay” in bartered massage. He got my office up and running.

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I was blessed with older women friends who wanted to be a part of the Complex and made a schedule to cover the office and phones. Theirs was a beautiful addition as they pampered the clients, helped oversee the waiting room which served juices and refreshments, and they provided a “social atmosphere that was unequaled.” When 9/11 happened and so many people were anxious, and some alone, they showed up at the Complex to keep company. The volunteers served refreshments and gave them a wonderful place to share. Channel 8’s television station showed up to see how we were faring and what we thought as we had put out the very first sign in the QCA which simply said God Bless America and had a red, white and blue bow on it. It actually became an “anniversary visit” at 6 months, 1 year, etc. after 9/11 we’d be interviewed again.

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The volunteers had been professional women and missed working but enjoyed being back in a mode of involvement that gave them the best of all worlds. They were the “heart “of the Complex and would do everything from help launder the linens, to make appointments and entertain the clients who began to routinely come early for appointments.

 

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Our outdoor signage expanded thanks to Rich Clark,  so we could accommodate messages of public interest. We also would give free massages to returning soldiers who served.

Being located at a very busy five point intersection, I was very high traffic and soon the signs were used on news broadcast and for editorial purposes. I was known and written up in the paper as “The Sign Lady” and proudly felt that it was a “morale thing” I could do. I felt I was the American version of Tokyo Rose in the 21st century, only on the “good” side.

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New signs went up on the building’s exterior done by Rich Clark, in my estimation the best sign maker in the QCA.

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We rented space on the community merchant sign and supported the troops again.

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Rich Clark did my van up to look professional and soon it was known all over the QCA. Did I mention Rich was very accommodating to help a new struggling business person get started.

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Here you see the back of my van and Rich’s sign shop in front. It was “serendipity” that we were neighboring businesses and thus worked to support each other’s business with good pricing and immediate services when changes had to be made. But note on the back of the van, it says : We’re back, then it has the OU SOONERS on it. That was a little something for my husband.

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And my personal favorite was a commercial we shot with Channel 8 in Moline, Il who made it so easy and reasonable. The two children were part of the script and there were also some clients who participated. Justin Grubbs made his acting debut and now is a bona fide actor/writer in his own right. And yes, they were consummate actors, but also my grandchildren.Olivia loved that she got to be made up by the two stylists in the Salon.

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We added a larger flag as time went by and the 9/11 fervor ebbed and flowed. The townspeople sent us notes of support, thanked us, and one parent called to say she drove out of her way taking her kids to school just to see what the message would be on our board which was changed daily to support the troops and often used cryptic Haiku poems. It became a QCA designated landmark for the morale of the troops, and I became referred to as “The Sign Lady” in various news articles and media coverage.

Finally after months of delay from the start of the Complex, we were ready for an Open House.

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I had presented a five year business plan . Within the first month I was paying full rent and had paid the deposit. In two and a half years I reached the five year goal. But what I created became more than a business; it became a landmark in the business community. Many unbelievable things happened there. My dream was fulfilled, and I always said to everyone I told about the business my personal belief:

“Even if I might not have it long, having started the business at the age of 56, at least I had it.”

The Five Points Wellness Complex was beautiful. It had a wonderful waiting room which was personally decorated by me. Eclectic but not “New Age”. It was more of an English library room with books, an iron lion’s head fountain, and dark green walls with fourteen foot ceilings. It had comfortable stuffed chairs and a beautiful carved-wood buffet stocked with fruits, juices, chocolate and various breaded offerings at any given time. (I can hear the traditionalist of massage cringing;) but we were there to offer more than the massage therapy. We were there to become a “safe” and quiet retreat with an optional reading space to relax. There was always a bowl of fresh roses or flowers of varying colors on the table to be enjoyed by clients. They were often allowed to take one or more home with them. Our florist across the road was always generous with discounts.

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Patrons would often receive roses on special occasions, but they were always welcome to the many juices, fruits, and treats.

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            Enter into the Complex picture, a mascot. His name was Dex, and he was the greyhound we adopted just two days after my husband retired and had plans for the two of them to be running partners and spend their days roaming the Mississippi River together and to be busy with each other in the yard (my husband’s favorite place as he was a determined gardener.) The timing was so ironic with my husband’s retirement, two days later rescuing and adopting Dex, a retired racer, followed two days later by the accursed news of my husband’s illness. There was, of course the struggle as to whether we should return him in fairness to him, but ultimately, this would become a man and dog bond like few others would ever know. 

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On occasion however, he would come to “work” with me and it was in the new Complex, he came to enjoy time with me.

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Men especially loved the waiting room. After the massage they would relax with the soft music, indirect lights and those who wished to relax and read, used the antique reading lamps. They would make the comment that it was feminine, but also very male oriented. They enjoyed sitting with hot cider in hand in the winter and cold juices in the summer. I have seen more than one chess game develop.

The aquarium had a star resident named “Ugly Bugly” (a huge apple snail) who lived many years along with many special fish.) Ugly Bugly truly seemed to have a personality and people came just to see him because friends had told them about him. We were even visited by class rooms of children at a nearby grade school. When I closed the Complex, he came home with me to the delight of my grandchildren.

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Among the other unique features was our welcoming host in our entry area, Gus. He was a beautiful blue and red beta who swam in his special vase with clear marbles at the bottom. He was among the celebrated features of our beautiful entry hall which had a white two feet high picket fence with artistic flowers the full length of the Complex hallway on both sides. It continued to the beauty shop. People were always “in a new place” the minute they entered. They truly loved it and frequently commented on “entering an enchanted place free from the cares of the outside world.”

A doctor came to the Complex part time to do Biofeedback therapy and there were light boxes for those who needed help with Seasonal Affective Disorder. While this was done more for the therapies provided, it also offered more diversity in the wellness opportunities and opened up a dialogue about health care alternatives.

Five part time therapists worked with varying techniques to meet the demands of clients ranging in ages from five to 87. Male and female clients were about even in numbers and we had a large room where we could do couple massage, or group massage for special occasions; like wedding parties of the bride and bridesmaids.

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 The beauty shop (styling salon) flourished and grew. The ladies were pleased when I added on their very own waiting room for their area with a play area for the children who came. When I named the salon, “A Beauty Within”, I prayed it would be, and would always help the clients find their personal inward beauty. 

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The gift shop had unique items and one of a kind art and jewelry available.

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Our gift shop hosted Calligraphy Artist Lynn Norton, daughter of famous water color artist, Paul Norton. We also carried his prints from the antique store.

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We enjoyed a great open house and the refreshments and ice sculptures were gifts from staff, volunteers and patrons, a special feature which constantly drew raves were the uncharacteristic bathrooms and their unusual paint decor. I couldn’t take full credit as the painting was already done. I just added unusual items in the rooms to take them to a new level. People seemed to appreciate the restful atmosphere and never rushed in or out. The curiosities on the walls and countertops were always great conversation pieces.

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All of this was an absolute answer to prayer. I had volunteers who came and acted as hostesses to serve the juices and visit with the clients before and after their massages. It became a place where you could drop in, even on days you weren’t there for your massage or services.

All in all the “Complex” years were the best years of my life, bar none. At least on a personal level. The clients were wonderful. We focused on making the complex, “about them”.

There were joyous reunions of friends who were reunited when we learned they had known each other as children and lost touch for fifty years. We arranged a surprise tea for them at the Complex. There were many times people just met and talked, and enjoyed.

On one occasion a father and his estranged son were brought back together after fifteen years. Later, at Christmas, the son wheeled the father in his wheel chair, and we arranged for his father to have a brand new shipping hat like the one he wore as a trademark for so many years, it literally rotted from age and hair oil. We special ordered it as he had an unusually big head size. He wept from the joy of receiving the gift, and from the realization, he was “himself” again.

Joseph was brought to the party by his son and in a wheel chair. He had no idea Santa would be there for him. We had special ordered from Massachusetts the very hat that had “disintegrated” from long years of wear. It had been his trademark look for many years, and having Santa bring it was the epitome of Christmas shock to someone who thought that Christmas magic was long gone from his life.

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Joseph “bloomed “after his encounter with Santa. His weekly massage sessions became serious work for him and he gained strength and momentum from them.

 

There were Christmas parties with Santa and Mrs. Claus, with gifts for every child. A photographer was present to take group and individual pictures to be presented to them later. Sets of holiday elves and scenes were staged for pictures as well as Santa’s lap and Mrs. Claus’s hugs. We had so much food and fun, jumping games. There were from 200 guests-UP in attendance at the parties.

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The anniversary celebrations for the Complex were held at the local Comedy Club with invitations to all the families of all the employees and therapists. From the youngest children who sneaked up on stage before the start of the program and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, to the oldest guests in their seventies, there was laughter and shared joy.

In the end, tragedy would close the wonderful landmark place. While caring for my sister in the hospital during her last days of fighting her breast cancer, I reinjured a long term shoulder condition. Following her funeral and a bout with double pneumonia, I finally bowed to my doctor’s wishes and concerns by going for tests to determine the state of the shoulder.The radiologist made a terrible mistake injecting me with three times the amount of dye solution for the test and failing to get into the joint. The results would be career ending for me .

A long story long, I ended up unable to rehab the shoulder, and after a year of paying therapists to take care of my clients it became financial suicide. Knowing the “character” of the Complex was really a reflection of who I was, I closed it; passing  on the client list and equipment for private practice to a young therapist in a smaller setting she could handle.

So, in saluting this wonderful place,  I would say we achieved “community” at the core of its meaning. We blended together, in love and respect, people of different religions, politics, cultures, races and belief systems. We pooled our positive energies and we brought about healing, hope and inspiration. And as I said so often during that time; “I may not have it long, but at least I had it.”

Thanks to all who shared it with me.

And to my mentors; thank you for allowing me to embody the lessons of my entrepreneur mother and utilize her fearless pursuit and risk taking to dare to dream, and to dare to “go for it”. I was so proud that I could present to Darlene Traynor the Business Person of the year award through the local chapter of American Business Women’s Association I had nominated her for as her husband Patrick beams in appreciation.

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I moved on in my life choices to fill my needs and obligations. With months of closing my association with the Complex, I was gainfully employed as a Domestic Violence and Rape Sexual Assault counselor and working the crisis line.  I began to write the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series which when published, established me as the Author from the Grassroots. 

I will always know the Complex was God’s gift to me. It was my oasis of peace giving me respite from years of serving terminal patients, championing the underdogs and reaching out to the poor and homeless. I think God had seen my pain and fatigue, and gave me that time to regroup and recharge.

I believe I built the Complex on the legacy of my mother’s work ethic and belief in hard work and letting nothing hold you back. And that, is a legacy I hope I passed on.

margueriteAND MOST OF ALL, THANK GOD FOR HELPING MY HUSBAND MANAGE HIS HEALTH IN SUCH AN AMAZING WAY THAT WE ARE STILL HERE, TOGETHER IN OUR MID 70’S.

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My hubby and I in retirement; both of us. Of course, I ended up retiring 4 times and I tell everyone I am not RETIRED but that I am REFIRED.

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©2006

 

 

 

 

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UPDATE; ON THE STORY OF THE APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES; DR JERRY GALLOWAY, M.D. AND MISSIONHURST BROTHER TO ZAIRE (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO). GUEST POST INCLUDED BY KENT GALLOWAY.


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An enigma to many, a rock to all.

JERRY GALLOWAY M.D. WHEN HE WAS CONFIRMED AS A MISSIONHURST BROTHER AND SENT TO SERVE IN ZAIRE                                                                                                                                            Jerry was an enigma to many, a rock to all.

 

As Dr. Galloway’s nurse here in the U.S. I’ve shared my story of our meeting and parting, and it has been viewed all over the world. Now, all these years later I have exciting news about the eventual release of a book of more than 27 years of letters written by Jerry. It is being done by his nephew, Kent Galloway. A labor of love and of mission.

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Kent Galloway, nephew of Dr. Jerry Galloway. He and his family have extensive time and investment to many mission trips to Africa and as one who knew Dr. Galloway well, I can say that Kent exudes the spirit and commitment of his uncle. His joy shines through with pictures of his visits there.

In Kent’s own words;

From 1974-1977, Dr Jerry Galloway worked for the Peace Corps in the Congo. When he joined, he was angry about many things in America. But, while there he found his life’s calling. He returned in 1980 to begin in life’s work with the pygmies. Jerry wrote 100’s of letters during his 27 years there. Jerry was a man of true grit. I believe his story is still meant to be shared with many, so I am compiling the letters into a book. I have drafted 200 pages.

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Dr. Jerry Galloway visiting from Zaire (later the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) He is visiting his former nurse and her family in Davenport, Iowa where he practiced medicine at the first Community Care clinic and was the Director of the clinic.

 

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I am seated with Jerry’s parents at their 50th golden wedding anniversary as a proud “stand in” for Jerry who was at Mission Pendjua in Zaire. It was such a privilege, and such fun to know his parents and spend time in their home. I imagine I gave them a good indication of why Jerry thought I was such a chatterbox, and probably tried to imagine the two of us working together harmoniously.

My comments upon hearing about the release of the letters:  ” It goes without saying his life is worth preserving in print and as a legacy and heritage for all mission conscious people of all faiths. Jerry was a Missionhurst Catholic Brother and I was his fundamentalist nurse; we had many adventures together in the states working at a clinic for patients needing sliding scale fees but excellent health care. His life and mine changed forever after his being there and he continued to visit in our home as “family” whenever in the states over all those next 27  years. My husband often said having met Jerry he felt he had met Christ in the flesh. High praise indeed from a man who had met many “pretenders to the throne”.

When this book is published it will be a resource, a startling introduction to real mission work, love, heartbreak, murder and mysteries. Witch Doctor interference, kidnapping, humor, hope, faithful searching, doubt, reconciliation and above all, the salvation true and real that was found and carried him through. It is real, truthful and meant to become ‘a light unto your feet.”

Joyce Godwin Grubbs Jerry’s nurse and friend for life from the 1970’s until we meet up again and can rejoice in all that we learned and did.”

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What is the author’s “platform” to write the book and give it substance? His only claim to entitlement is not just that he is related and a long time admirer of his uncle’s work, but it is that he too has lived out his call to serve. While Dr. Galloway was an internal medicine specialist trained at Johns Hopkins, Kent has very specific high tech skills which he utilizes with volunteers in the computer field to refurbish computers and get them to the schools in the countries he serves. He also has utilized that same tactic his uncle did in introducing and utilizing soccer. While Jerry’s approach was simplistic and the funding was lean for just a few shirts and only a ball, Kent and his fellow devotees have created a sophisticated soccer program that elevates the appeal to be real “possibilities” for young people to realize dreams of competition and winning. A 21st century approach.

Library of on site pictures of Kent in Africa.

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Soccer is the language that draws in the masses, and their hunger for the Word of God is what sustains them and grows the outreaches.

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Kent with the International Omega Ministries.

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Selfies with and for the kids.

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There is no shortage of young people to hear the word and participate in the programs.

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Uganda is another “field ripe unto harvest”.

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Where one or two are gathered in His name, he is there also.”

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One is as important as a dozen. Achievement and blessings abound and last.

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This will be a wonderful book of a truly inspiring mission outreach by a man, Dr. Jerry Galloway,  who lived simply, quietly and yet could walk into the capitol of Zaire and command respect and see the high ranking officials. He was known to have powerful influence at the grassroots and those who tried to usurp his work and reputation, soon found themselves in the hot seat and had to stand down. He saved lives in the clinics, and he saved lives by insisting that no one be harmed, railroaded or injured, taken or molested by the military. He made a Master tribe capitulate to his rules that they could not keep the slave tribe of pygmies from learning and achieving. HE CHANGED THINGS FOR THE BETTER WITH THE HELP OF HIS GOD.

I look forward Kent Galloway achieving his dream of bringing this book to the written word available to all. God Speed, Kent.

A special update from the public.     Don Foster : Loqwa (AKA Batwa) Pygmies still remember Jerry Galloway. They even remember the day he died in 2007 and that he served there for 27 years. Last week i was in Kiri* and met Loqwa men who had graduated university because of him and his boarding school. Some were teachers. About 40 were police officers. I did not go into depth to study his legacy. I just found this out without trying. His life is definitely a significant chapter in the development of the Loqwa Pygmies.     Received February 2017                                                                          

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God Wink: A to Z. Birth to Death. Viewing life as a Snowflake, is Best


My friends, you are about to be led into the unique world of Keith Bonnstetter, Master of Snowflakes and Mystic of the stories they tell. And it would not be a “Joyce Godwin Grubbs” blog piece if there wasn’t a personal and revealing story about why I would write about this creative author.  First and foremost there is a “miracle” in the story x’s three so just hang on for the ride.

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(Shown with permission of the artist.) A donation to Animal Family Veterinary Care Center from Snickers in honor of Cubby. Do you see what I see? doghouse with A F and pawprint, dog, giraffe face, giraffe, snake, rabbit, sheltie and cat and heart, a Macaw, boxer, iguana, rat, German Shepherd, Lab, guinea pig, Cockatiel, pawprint, Lizard, tarantula, Dachshund, nail clipper and brush, cat laying down, cat walking, fox, ferret, kangaroo, chicken foot, V for veterinarian (Permissions from Keith Bonnstetter for the visual and content explanation. )

In the closing days of 2016 I was surprised, almost shocked, to receive a Christmas gift in the mail from a beautiful friend of many years. Her family was a “peer” family to my son’s and thus I watched as their lives changed as they had their family, and I saw their successes and championed their dreams. When I opened the gift, my life was opened to a whole new concept of 21st century possibilities.  Of all things it revolved around “Snowflakes.”

When I went to the Facebook site of Keith Bonnstetter, it was a revelation of a skill and talent that took his art work beyond “beautiful, unique, and decorative” to having something that is “essential, personally fulfilling and relatable”.  My friend showed me the framed picture she had Keith do of a custom work to memorialize her mother.

A memorial snowflake custom designed for remembering a mother.

 

This settled an issue for me. For some time my daughters have fussed over what to do “with mother’s ashes” when she’s gone. I actually didn’t even want them saved. Now there is a viable and more meaningful way to remember me, and it is a custom snowflake by Keith. Furthermore, it is perfect as I am “that child” who grew up with very little and on the “Wrong/Strong Side of the Tracks” as one of my novels is titled. One of the favorite childhood memories is when our mother would make us “snow ice cream” and we would play from morning to dark creating snow angels, snow forts, having the proverbial snow ball fights. 

We often wondered how God could make all of the snowflakes different as we were told He did. We knew He was good, but wow, never repeating a pattern? It made us feel good because we were told that we were like snowflakes, individually created and loved by God. Actually I’m thinking of turning the tables on my children and having one snowflake done for each of them; making my own memorial is just the kind of thing this old contrary Okie would do.

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Made for a Parish Priest
  1. Hands of God
    Holy Spirit
    angels holding star
    angel appearing to Joseph
    journey to Bethlehem
    Flight into Egypt
    Nativity
    lilies
    wood shavings
    Holy Family
    Joseph had to believe, trust, listen and most importantly ACT!

This is the book I received as my gift. It should not surprise me, although it did, that the author generously provided in the creation of his book, ways for you to have ongoing patterns at no cost by taking the patterns and recreating them as desired. As an author I still respect and appreciate receiving books with the author’s autograph. It is our stamp of appreciation and also our “thanks” for you buying our books. So thank you again, Keith Bonnstetter.

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Sitting in a window so Christmas strollers can watch Keith in action, and even come into the store to see how it is done.  There are reasons, or maybe I should say miracles which give him a resume’ which includes being on the Martha Stewart Show,  newspapers, and various opportunities for interviews.

One might even get to hear some of his Snowflake Story, or just read it right here.  Miracles flow.

 

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Permission for use of excerpt from Keith Bonnstetter

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My sister, Police Officer Trula Ann Godwin, would have had to have this one. Throughout her life as an individual, author,  or as a police officer she always signed her name with the peace symbol at the end.

 

 

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One of Keith’s first and his favorite. I believe there are 40 Snowmen on here.

 

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Multiple snowflakes and with his book, you too can begin to “branch out”.

Keith can be found on Facebook and his products on Etsy.  His business is: Clear Visions Snowflakes.  As a teacher he uses his snowflakes to bond with students, and also with other teachers. That is how I got my book; my friend teaches with Keith and she knew it would be a good fit as I am now “home-bound” and need to be “hands on” with some activities to stay sane. Also I am about always doing/being unique in all that I do.

Whether you are just intrigued, or possibly seeing a “cottage industry” in your future, you cannot go wrong acquainting yourself with all the outstanding items and ideas of Keith Bonnstetter.  I could not possibly show you all of his fantastic pieces, so please take time to go to the sites and see for yourself. You know I always pick “winners.”

 

 

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Permission for excerpt from Keith Bonnstetter

 

May the beauty of your outreach in snowflakes continue to bless you and your family Keith. And may those touched by your story and your snowflakes see the bigger picture as we rejoice in Miracles and God Winks . It is fitting I believe, that I close this post with my standard author’s signature:

                                        Believe You Can

                                                                      Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs.

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Posted in Cottage Industry, new skills, shut in and home bound opportunities, Keith Bonnstetter, Snowflakes, uncommon ways to make snowflakes, Mayo Clinic, chiropractor, Dr. J. Richard Burns, financial medical , GOD WINK, Healing,, Storytellers, Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner), Uncategorized | 4 Comments

THE COLOR OF CHRISTMAS IS PURPLE ONCE AGAIN


Dedicated to Police Officer Trula Ann Godwin

Her first day following her swearing in ceremony for the Davenport Police Department in Davenport, Iowa.

When I think of one of the holiday presents that has meant the most to me, it is one that I received,  almost as a “posthumous gift” or God Wink from my sister. After her death and after a career change for me to return to work as an advocate/counselor for domestic violence and rape sexual assault victims at a confidentially located shelter, I found myself preparing for the Christmas holidays. I had been melancholy and really having to reach deep inside to pump myself up for the festivities. This was very unusual for me when it comes to Christmas but I was now working for high risk families and the circumstances of their lives could not help but impact my own.

One night working third shift and thinking of the Christmas gifts needed to see to it that all the children in the shelter would get one, and also include their mothers, I considered that perhaps the mother’s need one equally as bad as the children.   If anyone needed to experience the spirit and meaning of Christmas, it was these moms. I had seen  domestic violence situations play out for years. First, in my early life and then in my career working with people through advocacy and nursing. Christmas was a tough time if you were too old to believe in Santa.

I believe my sister was looking over me that night as I was tried to focus on the holidays and how to help the children. Almost an impossible task, was my thought at that point. Then, while leafing through some papers I had brought with me from my sludge-fund collection of old newspapers , my eyes lighted up as I saw the headline of a small human interest article from a news paper.

The story had been written by a humorist and personal story teller of great repute in our area. He had been a friend of ours   and as a police officer my sister Trula gave him many stories over the years. He also wrote on many of my previous clients in my work as an activist and  advocate to the homeless. This current human interest story was recounting a Christmas incident my sister had told me about many years before. It was  written from the perspective of her partner during that time, recounting his memories of that night. Suddenly, I knew it was the key to my holiday and had something powerful to offer in creating a momentum for the holiday ahead.

The story was written in the humorist’s unique style and was meant to be both heart warming and heart wrenching. It was both. But in truth, the story as told to me by my sister and now by her partner to the humorist, needed no embellishments and the simple truth of the facts spoke volumes.

Trula told me the story by way of explaining her absence from our holiday meal. She usually worked the busy holidays and always made time to go to an inner city bar in the heart of her beat to serve meals to the street people and the down and out folks of the neighborhood.  She would  drop by to share a bite with us but this holiday she had missed.

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This Christmas took place years ago and she would have only been on the force a few years. She was riding with an officer that over the long haul became one of her favorite friends in the department. She loved his red hair and bad boy attitude. Like her, he took no guff and nothing over the next years as he moved into the detective bureau would change . That is, nothing except my sister “T” who had seen his other side and knew the secret he carried around for those next twenty years they worked together in the department.

It was Christmas Eve and they’d had an unusually quiet shift and were looking forward to getting off. My sister had five children and Christmas was a hard time for her at best with working and trying to meet family expectations.

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Pictured with 4 of the five children and her husband at home.

A bright spot in their shift had been delivering gifts to kids on the inner city beat. In those days the officers knew who the families were that were likely to have nothing and they would go about collecting gifts and distributing them between calls on Christmas Eve. I have no doubt they had a good story for the children receiving the gifts about Santa needing help and who better to ask than the officers who could run their squad lights to get them delivered fast if need be.

Just before shift change they got a call to an address in a tough neighborhood, for a domestic violence call. Bad enough being that kind of a call, but on Christmas it seemed  to trample the character of the holiday. Reluctantly they went on the call.

They arrived to find the wife had been assaulted and was distraught. After investigating, the dad was sent to the station for processing which another squad handled while the mom was interviewed. The children present were crying, confused and when their dad was removed from the house, they began calling for their dad and couldn’t understand why he was leaving.

Trula  and Billy were doing their best with the children and in truth my sister was very good with kids. The human interest article mentioned that her partner pointed out how she took the children on her lap to calm them down. He stated that she was “wonderful”.

No one could doubt that if you are witness to your mother being beaten, your dad leaving in a squad car with officers who handcuffed him, you are definitely having a bad Christmas. Never-the-less, the children began to settle in.

It now was near Christmas as it was close to midnight. “T” and Billy tried to help the mom by spending time with the children so she could collect her thoughts and decide what to do and who to call. They had time to really take in the scene and realized at about the same time, there was no Christmas tree. No sign of Christmas could be seen. Too late, her partner had already asked the oldest child, about age six, if “Santa had been good” to him.

The little boy responded to the attention and the question by moving across the room and bringing to the big burly police officer a plastic sandwich bag. It was apparently the only gift the children had received. It was merely a sandwich bag of hard candy. The biggest thing in the bag was a lone purple lollipop and  it was the thing the little boy was most proud of.

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I am sure both officers thought of the gifts they had been able to give out so liberally earlier in their shift, leaving not even one to be had now. It was too late to go to store and buy something. No Walmarts in those days and even the small convenience stores were closed for Christmas.

The tough and seasoned officer  literally thought to himself, “God I wish I had some gifts to give to these kids”. Especially these kids whose Christmas had been so devastated by all that had gone on with their parents.

Suddenly the officer had a thought. He knew of a promotional items businessman that was always good for a donation to fundraisers and police events. As late as it was, he took the chance and called him. He simply stated the facts. There were kids with no gifts, no visit from Santa, and not even a tree. The business man said without hesitation, ‘meet me at my business’.

The officer met the business man, but on the way there,  realized that he was between paychecks and wouldn’t be able to buy much or to pay for it right then. The business man told him to ‘forget it’ entirely and loaded the squad car with toys.

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Returning to the house Billy and “T”, now off shift, sat on the floor and played with the children and their toys. He relates in the telling of the story that they had been given toys the children had never even seen before. The cache included a train-set he and the six year old boy set up together.

As the officers prepared to leave the house the little boy pressed the purple lollipop into the big hand of the officer and simply said, “Here” and “Thanks”. The officer admittedly wept.

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In these twenty years since that night, the officer reported my sister kept after him (and knowing her, harped on him) to share that story. He had been too private to do this, despite the fact that he has carried that purple lollipop in it’s original wrapper inside a plastic sandwich bag in his uniform vest pocket, daily ever since. He only makes an exception when the weather is too warm and might damage it.

So why did it appear in the paper after twenty long years? He decided to tell the story because he said it was to “acknowledge “T” and that night, because she died on December 23, just a couple of days before Christmas the year before. She had begged him to tell the story, but in twenty years he’d never told it to anyone.” Now he did it for her.

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Billy said the lollipop is a sign of faith for him when life seems like crap. He pulls it out and looks at it. He has never encountered the family again but he has never forgotten the “night of the purple lollipop“, or the officer and friend who shared it with him.

The renewal of that story and memory of her telling me about it absolutely renewed my enthusiasm for the hope and faith that is Christmas. I remembered it isn’t about me or my dreary attitude, it is about the children. And here I was, blessed to be surrounded by several families, moms and kids in that same situation.

Our Shelter toys went further on Christmas than anyone could have believed and with the over-flow, we even served at risk families outside of shelter that were very much in need. The moms in the shelter received surprise gifts as did each family, for Santa had found his way into each shelter room. I also made sure that staff and families got copies of the news story and a purple lollipop.

I felt a special bond with my sister Trula that Christmas and I treasure the memory. The next Christmas my new boss gave me a purple lollipop at Christmas and once again I was touched by the true meaning of Christmas and the purple lollipop ,my sister, and how the color purple plays into the holiday in sad and in-welcome ways.

I wore this to most of my talks, book signings and still have it by my computer.

I wore this to most of my talks on domestic violence, book signings and still have it by my computer as I write this story.

When I think of Christmas now, I think of the color purple and the legacy of the little boy’s purple lollipop. I also finally connected the fact that the ribbon which designates hope for domestic violence to end and the victims to heal, is purple.

 

Trula on Christmas dropping by to wish us a Merry Christmas as she was on night shift and didn't make Christmas dinner. She loved Christmas, and ironically would die the 23rd of December, 2002.

Trula years later, dropping by on Christmas  to wish us a Merry Christmas.  She was on night shift and didn’t make Christmas dinner again. She loved Christmas, and ironically would die of breast cancer the 23rd of December, 2002.

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trula-with-the-kids-at-christmas-on-ricker-hill-rdThe last time Trula dropped by on Christmas with all five of the kids with her.
Author pic with books orangeYes Christmas is still a deeply moving time for me and my heart is always with those I love, but also with the families enduring domestic violence. Please keep in  your heart and mind all of these and at each season, make time to make a gift of money or items for those in need. “As ye have given to the least of these, ye have given unto me.” Jesus, and it doesn’t get much better than that. A BLESSED SEASON OF LOVE TO EACH OF YOU.

Believe………..you can ! Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs

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WALLS TALK AND TABLES WITNESS; SLEEPWALKING, A RAPIST AND TRAVEL WERE PART OF THE LEGACIES OF OUR FAMILY TABLE..


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The traveling table in our family for over 50 years. 4 households embracing the lives of 13 children and the saga of many lives changed and challenged.

The need to tell the tales was brought home to me recently when a high school friend, Phillis Crawford-Dickey, contacted me about our upcoming high school reunion and stated that she “wished we could sit down together and have a cup of coffee and just talk.” Sadly I had to decline for reasons of health, but it did make me think of all the times I have sat around the very table pictured above.

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One of the first events at the table was to celebrate the 6th birthday of Trula Dee Ann Grubbs who chose a “Purple Party” which included a “real doll cake” with purple icing dress. From left to right are: Steven Grubbs, Darrin Tanner, Trula Grubbs, (seated in red) Shannon Grubbs, Behind her, Amy Tanner, and then Bradley Tanner.  This was when the table started serving its duties for the family and was with grandparents, Dr. Willard Smith and Marguerite Smith.

Of course when it was new there were six chairs, two with arms. The picture above depicts it as it is today. Two benches lovingly crafted by my husband to replace the chairs that finally fell apart after the grandchildren made good use of them and the boys became over six feet tall. They have replaced four chairs, and the table recently received a loving restoration from a grandson who was born years after it came into the family; Steven Hensler. Now grown  sitting at this table his entire life time he was able to sit while planning his wedding and establishing his career choices.

*****A Humorous Memory**********

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Our son Steven and sister Shannon at his “graduation from pre-school”. It was the just in the months before this picture that his “sleepwalking” adventure witnessed by The Table took place.

An early memory when the table was new happened the first time we sat at it. It belonged to my parents Dr. Willard and Marguerite Smith, in their new home in Iowa and we were visiting there from Kansas. With the children in bed we visited with the usual “catch us all up” kind of conversations. At about 9 p.m. my almost 4 year old son came wandering down the hallway from the bedroom and glanced at the 4 of us sitting there in relaxed conversation. He had a smile on his face as he kept walking, passing us at the table and turning into the galley kitchen. He stopped in front of the stove and pulled down the oven door. Not missing a beat he pushed his undershorts down and grabbed hold of his “utensil” (as his grandmother referred to his male anatomy) As we sat shocked into amazed silence, he allowed a stream of urine to shoot out of his utensil and he began to turn round and round. The urine of course then went into the oven, toward us at the table, then hit the lower cabinets under the sink, and shot toward the back door as he completed the circle. Then he repeated until he was depleted of urine. He calmly pulled up his undershorts, gave us a relaxed glance while turning his eyes to his return path to the bedroom.

Momentarily we sat not speaking and then a rush of conversation began. My parents insisted he was awake when he did that and I could see where they were going with the whole “that wasn’t funny” and “he might need some discipline” attitude. It compelled me to tell them this was a Grubbs family trait. My husband, who sat near enough to have witnessed it and attest to the facts, was a trusted member of the family. I on the other hand apparently had no “street creds” with my parents.

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Taken weeks before our wedding at the apartment we would rent, which on this night, was New Year’s Eve 1961 in Stillwater, Ok. . When we rented it I moved the bed so the headboard was against the window and wall and the vanity I was using there to comb my hair, was moved to the other side of the room and doorway. You could see the greater portion of the bed from the living room. (Yes, that’s my hubby-to-be sitting there waiting for me to come back and finish the card game with my Aunt Danita and Uncle Phil.

I continued to tell them that the first week we were married, I awoke during the night feeling the bed in motion and hearing my husband talking. I opened my eyes to behold him at the foot of the bed, down in a football stance shouting, “Down” (hesitation) “Set” (hesitation) and I suddenly knew what would follow if he said “Hut”. He would forge forward with his imaginary football he had tucked in one arm.

The problem was further complicated by the fact he would make a powerful lunge and hit the wall or window in back of our low headboard and either break his neck or go out the window of our second floor apartment. Instinctively I raised my leg quickly placing my foot against his chest and shoved with all my might. He went flying out of the bed backwards and through the bedroom door which sat just not quite 3 feet from the bottom of the bed. Let me just say he would not accept my explanation that he was asleep or playing football, but then he also could not understand why he would be in a vulnerable positon for his 100# wife to be able to kick him into another room, or why she would even want too.

For years to come, there would be hilarious and scary sleep walking events to be traversed in the middle of the night. From grabbing me in the night warning me in a conspiratol whisper, “Stay quiet. We have to get out of here before they see us.” His grip would be powerful and I knew he was deadly serious. Or the times he would jump out of bed and rush through the house, going into the yard (even in the rain once) and walking around the house’s perimeter believing the house was sinking.

For years both father and son (who inherited some Grubbs genetics) would entertain us over and over with their somnambulist expeditions and be furious refusing to believe we told the truth about it. My husband’s nephew Tom was also  quite a sleepwalker.  His parents had to put furniture and other impediments in front of the doors at nights (he would always find a way to unlock the doors). They lived in a small community, Billings, Ok.  with a main street and just a few side streets.

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Herman Grubbs and granddaughter Aspen standing on the newly improved streets (with lights) in Billings Oklahoma.  When the next story takes place, there were not street lights, and the road though paved was not a “quality” street. When it got to the furthest end where you can see Trees, the road to the left was dirt. And that’s where the story begins.

At one point, the family of Jack, Lynda and Tom Grubbs were living in the opposite ends of the town from his family, Bill and Rosa Grubbs. It became a problem when Tom, barely in grade school, would “escape” in the middle of the night from the trailer , often in his t-shirt and underwear, no shoes, and sound asleep but eyes wide open, would get out without his parents hearing him. More than once the town’s night watchman who patrolled the small community would spot Tom walking in the very middle of town, in the middle of the street, lit only by moonlight. (No street lights in those years.) The night watchman knew the story and not to wake him and freak him out. He would slowly follow at a distance until Tom safely reached his grandparents. Because their doors were never locked, he would watch Tom enter then figure his work was done and go about his business.

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The Grubbs house (grandparents) in Billings Oklahoma where Tom would sleepwalk to in the night hours. It was on a dirt road and from where he started his walk would be approximately 9 blocks.

Over the years all the “sleepwalkers” have entertained us but refused to believe they are guilty and believe us to be just punking them.

*****A Terrifying Memory*****

The Table witnessed one of the most terrifying life events in our collective family history. My parents had “moved on” from the new house and moved across the Mississippi River to Rock Island, Il. where they bought a building with a specialized handicapped residence built above as my mother’s health was declining. The chiropractic clinic already built below it was perfect for my dad to expand his practice and still teach at Palmer College of Chiropractic just commuting the bridge daily. They left The Table at the house for my sister Trula’s family which was  soon to be five children. One can imagine all the birthdays and holidays celebrated on it, and my grandson Bradley sitting there trying to gag down his broccoli.

It was after the birth of the fifth child that my sister had to go in the hospital for surgery overnight. My mother came and stayed with the children and was diligent to see the house was secured, locking the doors, checking the windows. My sister’s purse had been stolen a few weeks before as she had a habit of leaving it on the kitchen counter just inside the back interior door, which after two steps down, one could access the back door which led outside. 

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The four generations picture shows me standing (author Joyce Godwin Grubbs), my young daughter Trula Dee, then far left, Grandma Rhoda Marrs and far right my mother, Marguerite Marrs Godwin. The photo was taken in my parents house with “The Table” witnessing the picture as it was taken by the photographer my mother hired to come to the house for a portrait of family.

The next night mother stayed to feed the children their supper and put them to bed before leaving for home. My sister was miserable with a very sore abdomen and was using cold packs and taking pain meds so she went to bed as soon as mother left. At two in the morning, she was uncomfortable again and got up to get some pain medication and renew the cold pack. She went back to bed leaving the hall light on so the children could get up and go to the bathroom and her daughter Amy who was scared of the dark would not have a problem and call to her to take her to the bathroom. Amy strongly believed there was a “witch in the house” at night that would get her.

We would learn later that my sister’s rapist came in the back door (locked) and passed The Table, to get to the hallway and bedrooms. A silent witness who would never be able to divulge the identity of the attacker. A witness who would hear her fearful gasp when she saw him in the doorway of her darkened room, and lit by the back light of the hallway he would look like a witch with a pointed hat. The silent witness, who with my sister realized it was a man in a pointed hooded sweat shirt. The instructions to her, the warnings to her about not reporting the rape and the warning that he would come back and kill the kids and her, were forever contained in the inanimate witness.

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Trula Godwin (Tanner) with her children at Christmas after she had been on the force a about 12 years. Each child was affected in negative ways by the rape and eventual dissolution of marriage, but each struggle to have their maternal family unit remain in tact.

Terror had come to the family and The Table bore witness, but could not tell.

The Walls? They really do not talk.

*****The Table Travels*****

And so the table began it’s odyssey of travels in the family. My sister’s life was forever changed and challenged and her marriage could not be sustained against the pressures brought about by “Rape Trauma Syndrome.” Neither she nor her husband could come to terms about the man who went on to rape 9 more women in home invasion rapes, each one more violent than the last. While her “coping” method was a positive effort as she returned to college taking Criminal Justice courses, and then became the second female police officer on the Davenport, Iowa force, it only furthered the chasm between husband and wife. She became a sex crime expert and the next 28 years her job would become all-consuming and the family dynamics would shift time and again.

The Family of five, all grown up. They all had to admit they were never the same after the night of the rape, and each had their own way of being affected. In the bottom right corner is Charles "Chuck" Wright, who was the Chief of Police who hired Trula and later went on to be Mayor.

The Family of five, all grown up. They all had to admit they were never the same after the night of the rape, and each had their own way of being affected. In the bottom right corner is Charles “Chuck” Wright, who was the Chief of Police who hired Trula and later went on to be Mayor.

The Table was left behind when the family  left the house as the parents divorced, and it then went to my house for a few years. Our family of five did not need that large of a table and chairs, but our adolescents were creating a dynamic of “company” that was ongoing so it served its purpose.  Truth be told, in those years I was glad The Table was a silent “witness”.

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Trula Dee’s family a few years after they received The Table for their new home.

When our daughter Trula Dee got her first home in Wisconsin she had her own “gang of five” like the Aunt for whom she was named. The Table went through many years of which a remarkable book could be written about family, life, love, and challenges of health issues overcome that could teach many lessons about resilience and reliance on God.  Through all the 25 years it has been there with them in Wisconsin, The Table has served them well. When it got its most recent refinishing job by the grandson Steven, there was a great deal of loving care given to what had now become a focal point of “family”. 

Each person could tell stories about The Table and things it had witnessed. They would honestly point out, some would be “the good, the bad and the ugly” as could each former caretaker of The Table.

*****In Summation******

Let us realize that this table is still in use and Trula Dee is now  a grandmother for the first time and it will be a opportunity for even greater bonding around The Table. As for me,  a  great-grandmother for the first time, it will bring back memories of the occasions of welcoming my first grandchild when it was at my home, as she will her first grandchild at her home. 

And while my mother Marguerite is gone, it would do her frugal heart good to know The Table still serves her family and within the elements of the table are the memories of over 50 years of family history.

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My 72 birthday with my daughter Trula Dee.

Life doesn’t get more real than that.

 

 

 

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Imagine a Writer’s World and an Editor Who Loves to Edit; Experience counts, rapport makes the difference.


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← LET ME TAKE YOU ALONG TO THE RIVER WITH MY WRITINGSNO MAN IS AN ISLAND: NO AUTHOR IS ALONE by guest writer Joyce Godwin Grubbs IMAGINE A WRITER’S WORLD AND A MAN WHO LOVES TO EDIT : IN MEMORIAM, AUTHOR,EDITOR, LYLE ERNST 2016)

 

LYLE ERNST WAS A TRUE ENIGMA:  His motto was, Experience counts, rapport makes the difference.

Rarely do you hear any writer say they love to edit, but if there was a business called “Editing ‘R’ Us”, Lyle Ernst would be the CEO.

No matter the content, or genre, he was there for the writer. He made himself available personally and one to one with any author he worked with.  His patience was part of the package deal when he was working with clients and his passion kept them on track. No such thing as writer’s block in his world. His fees did not reflect his talent and ability, but rather the fees told the story of a man who loved the written word and wanted to mentor and encourage any writer, of any level, to keep writing.

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 Testimonial:

Imagine saving a lifetime of accumulated writings and thinking when you retire it will all come together and you would be published. I was such a dreamer. I found myself incredibly frustrated when I wanted to submit my works to editors, and found the expectations of submissions had gone “high tech, and meticulous”. Those weren’t anywhere close to describing my writings.

 I met Lyle at a writer’s conference and immediately contacted him.We met at his favorite business office, the Village Inn in Davenport, Iowa. I showed him my writing and my dilemma. I couldn’t even imagine trying to get queries, synopsis, and chapters ready for my novels submissions.

For his part, he admitted to being a little amazed at the number of completed books I had written and immediately set out to help me formulate a plan to reach out to publishers/editors ,and agents. He did some “Reality Therapy for a Writer 101″ per Lyle Ernst, and helped me through.

Today, Lyle has done edits on seven of my 15 books and helped me find “pro-bono” editing for my military book to salute pre-deployment issues on behalf of soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan. He helped me realize content needs and basic editing needs,  and was a resource for seeking out editors, agents, and submission planning. I don’t know where I would be without him, but I think the word “unpublished” would cover it. He helped me engage my writings into a photo journalism sideline, creating areas to fill my need for more “immediate gratification” than novels bring.

The thing that stands out is that you could multiply my experience by scores of other writer “wanna be’s” and struggling writers who needed the mentoring hand of an experienced and caring man. Thus, the “Literary Godfather” Lyle Ernst came to be.

I wanted to give this testimonial  so others  know he was the ‘real deal’ and for anyone beginning their career as a writer there was no one better. He created a very high bar in “paying it forward”. And so I salute Author Lyle Ernst for his caring beyond himself to mentoring other authors. I personally wish to thank him, knowing that without his intense encouragement and leadership, I would not be published today.

Lyle was many things to many people: I offer this photo album of pictures for those who knew and loved him, and for those who would have wanted too, had they known it.

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The “River Man” loved all rivers, but the Mighty Mississippi was his passion, and in particular, the area of Prairie du Chien.

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Lyle was one of the co-founders of the Mississippi River Writers and it was a catalyst to even more mentoring and expanding his involvement in helping writers “take the plunge.”

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With the many hours he devoted to editing and mentoring, he still had time to fulfill his love of writing and his favorite writing partner was Ojibway author Kimberly Sigafus (McIver). Awards found there way to their writing series.

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Lyle and Kimberly had just finished their release of the second book of the Mida series.

 

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Lyle was one of the most avid readers and in many genres. How he was able to consume the volumes weekly that he did only added to the mystique of this Author, Editor, Mentor, Reader, Workshop presenter, News reporter, photo journalist, and husband, father, and friend extraordinaire.

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Our last words are of thanks to Pat Jeffers Ernst. Thank you Pat for the many hours you shared Lyle with all of us. Thank you for your gentle spirit and loving care on his behalf. You my friend were the one who gave him encouragement, inspiration, and as he always said, “She’s my best content reader,” (and we all know how he valued and was inspired by that.) He credited you with his life’s success as you stayed at his side encouraging and believing in him.

 

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Author, Editor, Lyle Ernst. Dream Taskmaster to the Literary-dreamers, and Champion to the “Indies’ ” successes


When your best buddy puts on Facebook that he has Stage 4 lung cancer and won’t be on Facebook while “fighting the good fight,” a get well card just doesn’t cut it.

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Lyle and I were an “unlikely” couple to become best buddies but we did because we both have this piece of common ground. “At the end of the day, we love people who love to write.” Those who want to be published, want to share their ideas and stories, and those who are willing to WORK to make it happen.  Whatever the hold-up; money, editing, lack of confidence, a need to be “traditionally published only”, and those, like me, who just want to be read so voices and stories of the un-sung heroes and sheroes of the victims and survivors do not die.

(“See how long that sentence was? Where’s my editor when I need him??? Lyle?)

Let me take you back to our first meeting and bring it forward. You might understand us better after you can see our friendship as it came together. 

It was so cold and I was nervous as I grabbed my leather portfolio and hurried to my appointment, struggling in heels across the icy parking lot of the Village Inn in Davenport. So many meetings in my career had been held there, day and night. It was like a “safe place” to meet and not be shooed out the door by staff, many of whom I’d known on a first name basis for almost 20 years.  Confession is good for the soul and makes me admit that my meetings often went on for hours. I am a talker. I am a stickler for research, and I have to know the people I am involved with. With this new man, Lyle Ernst, I was headed into uncharted waters as I entered and scanned the room. Then I spotted him and the wait staff smiled and nodded toward him. “He’s been waiting for you.”

I had seen pictures on the internet when I googled him and had a preconceived notion as to what he was going to be like. However, nothing could have prepared me for “Editor, Author, Lyle Ernst”. The first words out of his mouth were not words; the sound was laughter. “I saw you getting out of your vehicle and didn’t know whether to come help or watch you blow away from the wind.”  Full laughter now.

 

Lyle's laugh is the most identifiable and memorable thing about him. It is infectious and yet reassuring as it comes from a good place and is sincere. Few people have ever gained my trust because of their laugh. Lyle ranks #1

Lyle’s laugh is the most identifiable and memorable thing about him. It is infectious and yet reassuring as it comes from a good place and is sincere. Few people have ever gained my trust because of their laugh. Lyle ranks #1

 

I tried to project my business-like persona but he kept coming up with these side-ways zingers and laughing as though it didn’t matter if I did or not. He had short grey hair that still boasted some reddish-brown top hair. Glasses and a beard made me think they were the only “sedate” thing about him, and his glasses were a necessity but the beard was just that touch that rounded out his “cocky” look. At his side on the seat of the booth was a hat he undoubtedly wore fondly. It was what I called a “cocky hat” and the fact it came from Oklahoma made it all the more notable to an Okie like me. I had already identified him as a “grizzled, rascal of a newsman” and I was not disappointed. He could have been a character in one of my books. 

lyle-with-cocky-hat

In his signature hat, with his eye’s twinkling, we spent so many hours conferring at “our office” (The Village Inn) where he drove the waitresses into fits of laughter, and always ordering a Miller Lite and being shocked “they were out”.

I had already written 4 novels and was here to get his input on how to get them “out there.”  I didn’t write a best-seller, I knew that. But I did write to champion victims and survivors of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence. I wrote to champion the men and women who struggle with those issues, and those who help them and guide the highest risk victims underground. I wanted to “inform” and help people who know nothing about the hurt and pain of victims, to learn to empathize and perhaps be drawn in to help. Mostly, I just needed to be read to accomplish all of that.

I needed Lyle to guide me through the process of publication, perhaps help me write a more appealing cover letter, and most of all, I needed a trustworthy, experienced, and aggressive ally to help me counter the way my work was perceived. Now to find out if he was the one.

Already 60 I knew my viable years as an author were limited. I also was aware my health would be strained to the limits making book signings which are crucial to the success of any author and especially one who didn’t have “time” in the 21st century timeline to traverse the maze of publicists and the hoops one had to jump through just to be screened. I had already had some responses from some of my submissions, but despite a cover letter revealing the clear disclosure that the events in the books were all from real cases though “disguised” through creative fiction, I would receive back good responses but inevitably somewhere it would point out some part in the book and say “this would never happen.” In the beginning I would be indignant and write back “if it was in the book, as the cover letter said,  it has already happened in a real case . These are the voices of the victims/survivors.”

Author pic with books orange

Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs after Lyle Ernst helped her get more than a dozen novels “out there.” He was everything needed; at times editor, at times content reader, at times a sounding board, and at all times, my friend and champion.

 

That was the beginning of a now, 12 year friendship and a most amazing find in my long years of people watching and working with the “good, the bad, and the ugly.” I did not know it then, but I had just scored a lifelong friend that at no time in my years of knowing him, ever exhibited any self-promoting or selfish desires for himself. I had been thrown into the “world according to Lyle.”

When I had a stroke while writing Footsteps Out of Darkness, a memoir with Annabelle Kindig, I had trouble completing some interviews. Lyle to the rescue and he became an important team member and instrumental in helping us wrap up the story in the promised time-line to meet distribution needs for the 40th anniversary of MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) in Boulder, Co. He kept Annabelle and I laughing to the very end of a very tense, highly-risky. timeline. 10 months, beginning to end.

annabelle 3 optimists

I believe Margaret Atwood’s quote was the only one that fit our mindset about the completion of Footsteps Out of Darkness; the Annabelle Kindig Story.

An elegant affair which had to change venues to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Ironically it was an overflow crowd with many of the organizers choosing to stand along a back wall for the presentations, to accommodate the over-flow crowd.

An elegant affair which had to change venues to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Ironically it was an overflow crowd with many of the organizers choosing to stand along a back wall for the presentations, to accommodate the over-flow crowd.

LYLE, HERE ARE SOME REMINDERS OF ALL THOSE YOU HELPED AND MANY THAT YOU WORKED WITH, AND ESPECIALLY MANY YOU LOVE; SO FIGHT, LYLE,FIGHT.

lyle-with-matthew

YOUR “BUDDY” GRANDSON MATTHEW; YOUR PRIDE AND JOY.

 

lyle-ernst-cubs

YOUR CUBS, YOU’VE BROUGHT THEM THIS FAR, LET’S GO FOR THE WIN !

lyle-and-pat-at-style

THAT BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO LIGHTS UP THE ROOM FOR YOU. YOU TWO WERE CERTAINLY “STYLING” THAT DAY.

lyle-and-tony

YOUR FELLOW AUTHORS LIKE TONY STILL NEED YOUR “TWO CENTS WORTH”

lyle-indian-book

lyle2

For Lyle, it was never about the money when helping others to write, edit, market, encourage or guide those needing help. He wrote for the love of writing, and did so with gusto. He was a news reporter, a non-fiction and fiction writer and known to most of us as “The River Man.”

YOU AND KIM HAVE MANY MORE BOOKS TO WRITE AND FINISH; the-mida-2

And while many would recognize you more readily in casual clothes, they would love to see you with your books and collections.

lyle-suit-and-book-cases

lyle-bd-collage

AND I FULLY INTEND TO SEE YOU ENJOY ANOTHER OF MY WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY COLLAGES OCTOBER 31 WHILE SIPPING MILLER LITE.

lyle-mississippi-writers

lyle-3-color-announcement

lyle-banner

AND THIS, YOUR LABOR OF LOVE FOR SO MANY YEARS, READY TO GO; I THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO BE A CONTENT READER AND WORK ON THIS WITH YOU. IT WAS MY HONOR AND A TIME OF FUN AND PRIDE IN SEEING WHAT YOU HAD ACHIEVED. YOU MY FRIEND SHOWED ME WHAT IT MEANT TO WRITE OUT OF PURE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.

 

lyle-river-man

Lyle’s love of the Mississippi River is legendary. He also has a love of writing about rivers and their small towns that cluster near them. That is why to many he is known as “The River Man.”

 

And above all Lyle, when we talk about fighting the evil “C” word, keep in mind the words of Robert Frost.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

http://www.editorwriterfreelanceauthor.webs.com/

 

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