Peebles Elementary hosts PBIS showcase NAES student starting Christmas Card project Try and tell them that nobody cares Senior Profile: Ethan Thompson 15-point lead vanishes, Hounds fall in season opener Deer Gun Season results down all across Ohio Hometown Christmas in Peebles rings in the holiday season Manchester Elementary receives 2016 Momentum Award Drug bust in West Union Stephen C Foster Donna Rivers WUES students perform as part of Honor Choir Ohio Brush Creek Canoe/Kayak access completed Hall of Fame Christmas in Portsmouth Thyme to trim the Christmas Tree Junior High Lady Hounds get season-opening sweep Lady Devils roll past Paint Valley in season opener Senior Profile: Jessica Johnson Michael E Roberts Sr Evelyn L Jones Thomas M Calvert Ryan, Sowards lead Lady Indians to easy win in season opener, 57-36 over Felicity Senior Profile: Wes Hayslip Justice off to hot start at VSU County boys’ squads on display in annual SHAC Preview Night ‘Operation Christmas Child’ collects 1,707 shoe boxes for needy children Two animal cruelty cases investigated in Adams County DP&L considers closing power-generating plants in county Holiday spirit makes an early appearance in Adams County Chester A Mann Jeffrey A Daley Sr Michael G Tincher DAR sponsors Good Citizen Award Ohio’s young hunters harvest nearly 6,000 deer during Youth Gun Season Senior Profile: Kayle Thomas Helen N Hiestand Rev Walter R Egnor Sr Betty Beam Jamie L Corrill Jeffrey L Heppard Edsel L Massey Jr It is time to stop and take time to give thanks on a special day Another year to be very thankful for Senior Profile: Savannah McCoy McCoy signs to continue golf career at SSU North Adams hosts SHAC Girls Preview DAR commemorates 50th anniversary of Vietnam War Historical Society honors veterans Star Wars routine leads Fancy Free Cloggers to ‘America’s Got Talent’ A Day at the Opera Eagle Creek draws community to Thanksgiving celebration Ward ekes out victory over Worley in county commissioner race Mary A Garman Ronald L Palmer Joseph S McClanahan II Emma O Hayslip Devils slip by Georgetown in Foundation Game Hupp, Hunter, Wolke named OSSCA Second Team All-State Senior Profile: Kain Turner Lady Devils romp in Foundation Game Oh, those aromas coming from Mom’s kitchen What Became My Biggest Project Deer gun season set to begin ‘Trees to Textbooks’ shares revenues with local schools and communities BREAKING NEWS Winchester’s Baxter wins Miss Ohio USA 2017 pageant Genny Elkins Pauline S Stevenson Donald E Lewis Sr Charlotte R Seaman Ruth Prater Bennie Skaggs Gertrude Swayne West Union High School hosts impressive Veterans Day ceremonies Peebles Elementary hosts ceremony to honor local veterans Duke Energy exits Killen and Stuart Plants GE Aviation hosts annual Veterans Day celebration Senior Profile: Logan Gordley Jeffrey A Brown Sr Peebles Library welcomes local author and survivor on Nov. 19 Homer C Eldridge Robert W Schomberg One Commissioner race too close to call in unofficial count Voters approve majority of county levies on Tuesday’s election ballot NAES Sixth Graders practice the democratic process Honoring one who gave the ‘last full measure of devotion’ Overcoming adversity, veteran of Iraq War opens local business Senior Profile: Ben Figgins Senior Profile: Macy Mullenix SHAC Basketball Previews are set for Nov. 18 and 25 Trio of local golfers finish careers with trip to the highest level of high school competition Peebles sophomore Jenny Seas finishes sixth in OHSAA state cross-country meet Upset win sends Trump to the White House ACRMC awarded plaque for 50 years of service Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for First Nine Week Grading Period BREAKING ELECTION NEWS! Senior Profile: Jordyn Kell Orlie H Kirker Military homecoming at NAES
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Their walk to remember

My daughter Julia had childhood apraxia until she was about five years old, which made it very difficult for her to form sounds and syllables correctly in order to speak so that she could be understood. She was very intelligent and knew exactly what she wanted to say, but her speech disorder would not allow her to do so. This eventually led to tantrums and crying fits because she would get so frustrated that nobody understood her. She went to speech therapy, a special preschool class, and learned sign language to try to bridge the communication gap, but still, my little brown eyed girl often had tear-filled eyes.

During this same time, one of our dear family friends suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. She was at the stage where she understood what you were talking about and could answer yes or no questions, but had much difficulty trying to verbally communicate beyond that. One warm summer day, I found myself with some free time with just Julia, so we decided to go pick up our friend and go for a walk around the path in our home town. Our path is just over a mile long, so I figured I could push Julia in the stroller and it wouldn’t take us too long to get around it.

We started off with our friend walking beside me and Julia swinging her chubby little legs from the seat of the stroller. Several minutes later, Julia reached up and grabbed our friend’s hand. I immediately saw her face brighten, and her expression change. The touch of my child’s hand was comfort to her soul. Julia turned and motioned to me that she wanted to get down out of the stroller. She had just turned three years old at the time, and I just knew her little legs would get tired, but I got her out and let her walk.

It took us an hour and a half to walk ¾ of a mile, but the view was spectacular. They were two peas in a pod. They walked hand in hand, but stopped every few steps to admire each pretty rock, to rescue every stray worm off the hot blacktop, to look at their reflections in every puddle, to chase every butterfly, to pick every flower. Neither one could verbally speak very well, but they spoke volumes to one another. They understood each other perfectly. They followed each other’s hand gestures as they pointed to fuzzy caterpillars, chalk drawings, and baby frogs. They watched each other’s sparkling eyes to communicate their delight at finding each new treasure. They saw happiness there. Patience. Contentment.

I’m certain they forgot I was even behind them, but as I watched this unfold in front of me, my heart smiled. Our friend had given my daughter something I couldn’t, understanding. She knew exactly what it was like to have great thoughts and ideas and not be able to express them. Each understood the frustration that the other was feeling when the world didn’t understand. Each gave the other permission to take as long as they needed to get the point across. Each laughed in the same language-pure, innocent, love-filled laughter that I wished I could put in my shirt pocket to pull out on days when I was sad or unsure of myself.

Such great teachers! To do an act as simple as to look into someone’s eyes when they are speaking lets them know that what they are saying is important. To give them time that is just theirs confirms that their thoughts and ideas are worth listening to. To give them time to express it in their own way, even if it feels long and labored, is a gift. In that moment, you see them for who they are and see past the labels the world may have put on them. In that moment, they are themselves. Not a child with a speech impediment. Not an adult with a debilitating disease. Not a teenager who feels misunderstood. Not an elderly person who cannot remember the words they are looking for. Not a frazzled, sleep-deprived parent. Not someone who is battling depression. For that moment, you have given them validation that what they are saying is important enough to exchange a few moments of your life to hear what they have to say. You might be the only person who gave them such an important gift that day.

Friends, may you find God’s blessings all around you this week. May you not be rushed. May you recognize God’s treasures in the form of funny-shaped clouds and colors of the sunset. May you be on both the giving and receiving ends of feeling important to another person. Those are the things that make life worth living. Live it well.

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Denae Jones

Contributing Columnist

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2016 People's Defender